New Hampshire Divorce

State Divorce Laws: New Hampshire

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE: (1) Both spouses must be residents of the state when the divorce is filed for; or (2) the spouse filing for divorce must have been a resident of New Hampshire for 1 year immediately prior to filing for divorce and the other spouse was personally served with process within the state; or (3) the cause of divorce must have arisen in New Hampshire and one of the spouses must be living in New Hampshire when the divorce is filed for. The divorce may be filed for in a county where either spouse resides. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapters 458:5, 458:6, and 458.9].

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE: No-Fault: Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:7] General: (1) impotence; (2) adultery; (3) abandonment and not been heard of for 2 years; (4) imprisonment with a sentence of more than 1 year served; (5) physical abuse or reasonable apprehension of physical abuse; (6) desertion without support of spouse by husband for 2 years; (7) cruel and inhuman treatment; (8) habitual intemperance (drunkenness) for 2 years; (9) living separate and apart without cohabitation (wife left without husband's consent for 2 years); (10) mental abuse; (11) when either spouse has joined a religious society which professes that the relationship of the husband and wife is unlawful and refuses to cohabit with the other for 6 consecutive months; (12) when the wife of any citizen of New Hampshire leaves the state without her husband's consent and lives elsewhere for 10 consecutive years without returning to claim her marriage rights; and (13) when the wife lives in New Hampshire for 2 years and her husband becomes the citizen of a foreign country without supporting the wife. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:7, 458:7a, and 458:26].

NAME OF COURT IN WHICH TO FILE FOR DIVORCE: Superior Court. "The State of New Hampshire, Superior Court in and for __________."

TITLE OF DIVORCE ACTION: Petition for Divorce.

NAME USED TO DESCRIBE SPOUSE FILING FOR DIVORCE: Petitioner.

NAME USED TO DESCRIBE OTHER SPOUSE IN DIVORCE: Respondent.

TITLE OF FINAL DIVORCE PAPERS: Decree of Divorce.

LEGAL SEPARATION: The grounds for legal separation (limited divorce) in New Hampshire are the same as for divorce. (1) The spouse filing for legal separation must have been a resident of New Hampshire for 1 year; or (2) the cause of legal separation must have arisen in New Hampshire and one of the spouses must be living in New Hampshire when the action for legal separation is filed for. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapters 458:5, 458:6, 458:7, 458:7a, and 458:26].

SIMPLIFIED OR SPECIAL DIVORCE PROCEDURES: There are no legal provisions in New Hampshire for simplified divorce procedures.

MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS: At either spouse's request or if the court feels that there is a reasonable chance at reconciliation, it may delay the divorce proceedings and order the spouses to submit to marriage counseling. There are also provisions for voluntary marital mediation of issues involved in the divorce. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapters 458:7B and 458:15-a].

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION: New Hampshire is an "equitable distribution" state. The court will divide all of the spouse's property, including (1) gifts; (2) inheritances; (3) property acquired prior to the marriage; and (4) any retirement or pension benefits, as is equitable and just. An equal division is presumed to be equitable. The factors for consideration specified in the statute are: (1) the length of the marriage; (2) the age and health of the spouses; (3) the occupation of the spouses; (4) the vocational skills of the spouses; (5) the employability of the spouses; (6) the value of each spouse's property; (7) the amount and sources of income of the spouses; (8) the liabilities and needs of each spouse; (9) the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income; (10) the ability of the custodial parent to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of any minor children in custody; (11) the need of the custodial parent to occupy or own the marital residence and any household furnishings; (12) the actions of either spouse during the marriage which contributed to the increase or decrease in value of any property; (13) any significant disparity between the spouses in relation to the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse to the care and education of the children and the care and management of the home; (14) the expectation of any retirement or pension benefits; (15) the federal income tax consequences of the court's division of the property; (16) any marital fault if such fault caused the breakdown of the marriage and caused pain and suffering or economic loss; (17) the value of any property acquired prior to marriage or exchanged for property acquired prior to marriage; (18) the value of any gifts or inheritances; (19) any direct or indirect contribution to the education or career development of the other spouse; (20) any interruption in education or career opportunities to benefit the other's career, the marriage, or any children; (21) the social and economic status of each spouse; (22) any other relevant factor. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:16-a].

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT: Either spouse may be ordered to pay support to the other if: (1) the spouse in need lacks sufficient income or property to provide for reasonable needs, taking into account the standard of living during the marriage; and (2) the spouse to pay is able to meet his or her reasonable needs, taking into account the standard of living during the marriage; and (3) the spouse in need is unable to support him or herself at a reasonable standard of living or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment outside the home. The factors for consideration are: (1) the duration of the marriage; (2) the age of the spouses; (3) the physical and emotional conditions of the spouses; (4) the vocational skills and employability of the spouse seeking support; (5) the tax consequences to each spouse; (6) the amount and sources of income of the spouses; (7) the occupation of the spouses; (8) the value of each spouse's property; (9) the liabilities and needs of each spouse; (10) the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income; (11) any marital fault if such fault caused the breakdown of the marriage and caused pain and suffering or economic loss; (12) the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of the marital property, including any non-economic contributions of each spouse to the family unit; and (13) the social and economic status of each spouse. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:19].

SPOUSE'S NAME: A spouse's former name may be restored in a divorce. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:24].

CHILD CUSTODY: Joint legal custody (joint responsibility for all parental rights and decisions, except physical custody) is presumed to be in the best interests of the child unless there has been child abuse by one of the parents. Custody is awarded based on a consideration of the following factors: (1) preference of the child; (2) the education of the child; (3) any findings or recommendations of a neutral mediator; and (4) any other factors. No preference is given to either parent based on the parent's sex. Repeated and unwarranted interference by a parent with primary custody with the visitation rights of the other parent is now a factor in modifying custody arrangements. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:17].

CHILD SUPPORT: The court may order reasonable provisions for the support and education of a child. There are specific child support guidelines set out in the statute. There is a presumption that the amount set forth in the guidelines is correct, unless it is shown that the amount is unjust or inappropriate under the particular circumstances of a case. The factors for consideration for adjusting the amount up or down which are specified in the statute are: (1) any extraordinary medical, dental, or educational expenses of the child; (2) a significantly higher or lower income of either parent; (3) the economic consequences of the presence of any stepparents or stepchildren; (4) any extraordinary costs associated with physical custody; (5) the economic consequences to either parent of the disposition of the marital home; (6) any state or federal tax consequences; (7) any split or shared custody arrangements; and (8) any other significant factor. The court may order health insurance coverage as a method of support. There are also provisions for wage assignments and wage withholding to secure the payment of any child support. [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapters 458:17, 458:18, 458-C:1-5].

PREMARITAL AGREEMENT: New Hampshire does not have any statutes pertaining to premarital agreements.

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