New Hampshire Divorce Resources

By WomansDivorce

Getting divorced is tough, no matter if it is a mutual decision or not. Here you can get the New Hampshire divorce and separation information you need, from selecting a divorce lawyer to finding the support services to help you get through everything.

New Hampshire Divorce Laws

Residency and jurisdiction: Before an action for divorce can proceed, domicile needs to be established. A divorce can begin if at least one spouse has lived in New Hampshire for at least a year before the petition is filed. A petition for divorce may be filed with the appropriate court in the county in which either party lives. 

Legal separation- A couple can get a legal separation in any situation for which a divorce would be granted. The separation can address all the same issues as a divorce except the spouses will not be free to marry someone else. Either spouse may petition to have the separation amended to divorce later on. 

Divorce grounds - A couple can get a no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, without consideration of the fault of either party. New Hampshire also recognizes fault grounds for divorce, such as: 

  • Adultery 
  • Impotency 
  • Extreme cruelty 
  • Domestic abuse 
  • Imprisonment for more than a year 
  • Refusal to cohabit for at least 2 years without sufficient cause 
  • Uninterrupted abandonment for at least 2 years 
  • Habitual drunkenness for at least 2 years straight 
  • Refusal to cohabit for at least 6 months due to a spouse joining a religious organization which doesn't recognize marriage.

Reconciliation counseling - The couple may be referred to marriage counseling before a final decree is granted if the court determines a possibility for reconciliation exists. 

Property Settlement - The courts prefer for couples to reach their own property settlement agreements. If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, the court will equitable divide the couples assets and debts. It is important to note that New Hampshire is an "all-property" state. This means the court may consider both marital and separate property (regardless of when it was acquired and if it is owned individually or jointly) when determining the property settlement. 

There is a rebuttable presumption that an equal division of the property is equitable. If the court finds that an equal division wouldn't be appropriate or fair, it will take into account the factors below to reach an equitable division: 

  • The length of the marriage. 
  • Each party's age, health, needs, financial resources, assets, and liabilities, occupational skills and employability, as well as their future opportunities to acquire capital assets and income. 
  • If the fault of a spouse cause the breakdown of the marriage and either resulted in a significant economic loss to the marital estate or the injured party or caused substantial physical or mental pain and suffering of the injured party. 
  • The custodial parent's need to occupy the marital home, as well as his or her ability to be gainfully employed while still caring for any minor children. 
  • Each spouse's contributions during the marriage, including that as a homemaker, caring for the children of the marriage, and contributing to the enhancement of the other spouse's career. 
  • Each spouses contribution to the growth or decrease in value of both marital and separate property. 
  • The value of separate property, including that acquired by gift or inheritance, acquired in exchange for premarital property, and set aside by a valid prenuptial agreement. 
  • Pension or retirement rights acquired prior to or during the marriage. 
  • Each party's tax consequences as a result of the property distribution.

Alimony provisions - Alimony may be awarded in New Hampshire to a spouse lacking sufficient income and/or property to support his or her reasonable needs, taking into consideration the other spouse's ability to pay alimony. Alimony may be awarded to either spouse and is considered taxable income for the recipient and is deductible on taxes for the paying spouse. 

When determining the amount of alimony to award, the court considers the duration of marriage, the age, health, social or economic status, amount and sources of income, estate, liabilities, occupation, vocational skills, employability, the property awarded pursuant to the divorce, and needs of each of the parties as well as their future opportunities to acquire assets and income; the fault of either spouse; and the federal tax consequences due to alimony. 

Alimony may be awarded as a lump sum, periodic payments, or both. The amount and duration is determined based on the individual factors of each case. Even if alimony wasn't originally ordered at the time of a divorce, either spouse has the right to petition for alimony within 5 years of the date of the divorce decree. Alimony generally ceases when the recipient remarries or when either party dies.

Name change - The court may restore a spouse's former name when a decree of divorce or nullity is made.

Child custody - If parents can't agree on custody issues, a judge will determine parental rights and responsibilities based upon what is in the "best interest" of the child, using the factors listed in NH Statutes - Domestic Relations Chapter 461-A:6. The court may also take into consideration the preferences of a child if he or she is of sufficient maturity to make a sound judgment. The court doesn't consider the gender of the child or parents, or a parent's financial resources when making its determination. 

Parental rights and responsibilities encompass two categories: residential responsibility and decision-making responsibility. Residential responsibility refers to where the child will resides. Either parent may be the residential parent or the child may stay with both parents for relatively equal amounts of time. Decision-making responsibility refers to making decisions about a child's education, religion, medical care, activities, etc. The court prefers parents to make decisions jointly unless there has been a history of domestic violence or other circumstances making it difficult for the parents to work together. 

All custody orders require the parents to submit a parenting plan regarding the care of their dependent children. If they're unable to work out such a plan, the court will develop a parenting plan which covers: 

  • Residential and decision-making responsibilities 
  • The legal residence of the child for school purposes 
  • The parenting schedule, including transportation and exchange of the child 
  • Information sharing and access 
  • Stipulations on relocation 
  • Provisions for review, modification, and resolving disputes. 

Child Impact Seminar - Where the parties are involved with child custody and support issues, the parents must attend a 4-hour mandatory seminar on the effects of divorce or separation on children. 

Child support: In New Hampshire, the amount of the child support order is determined according to the combined monthly adjusted gross income of both parents and the number of children to be supported. The party seeking child support will need to complete a child support guideline worksheet to be used in conjunction with the NH child support guidelines table to establish the child support obligation for the payor. 

Either party can seek to modify the child support without having to show a substantial change in circumstances if at least 3 years have passed since the current order was issued. A modification of the support order may also be sought earlier if there has been a proven substantial change in circumstances. Children are entitled to be supported until they reach 18 or graduate from high school, whichever happens later.

Divorce and Custody Lawyers

NH Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service - The New Hampshire Bar Association has a program that only charges a minimal amount for its referral service, and this includes the initial consultation for up to 30 minutes. They also have a reduced fee program which can be accessed from the same page. This program exists to help people who don't qualify for legal aid, but yet can't afford standard legal fees.

Online Divorce Papers

This online service assists you in customizing your divorce papers to your unique situation. Your finished paperwork will be complete and you'll get detailed directions on how to submit the papers with the local courts. You'll also get to access to many e-books and resources about all aspects of divorce. Plus, they offer customer support by phone, e-mail, and online. This is one of the best options for doing your own New Hampshire divorce.

Child Impact Program

All parents who are going through a divorce, custody, or child support action in New Hampshire are required to attend the Child Impact Program. This program provides strategies, ideas and tools to enable parents to help their children deal with their parent's divorce or separation. Both parties must complete the program within 45 days after the petition for divorce or custody is served and they may attend the seminar together or separately. For more information about the seminar and a list of locations and times, please visit the link above.

Domestic Abuse Assistance

NH Coalition Against Domestic Violence