Divorce in New Hampshire: Everything You Need to Know

1 min readLast updated March 26, 2024by Unbiased team

This article explores all the processes and costs surrounding divorce in the state of New Hampshire.

Summary

  • New Hampshire has both “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorces. 

  • The cost of a divorce in New Hampshire will depend on your unique circumstances, with more complex divorces being more expensive. 

  • Simpler divorces, especially those where couples can agree on key issues like property division and child custody, tend to be less expensive.

  • A financial advisor can help you protect your finances through a divorce and develop a long-term plan to rebuild afterward. 

What are the different types of divorce in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, individuals looking to dissolve their marriage can choose between fault and no-fault divorces, each catering to different situations.

  • No-Fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce does not require the petitioner to prove any wrongdoing on the part of their spouse. Instead, one can simply state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. 

This option is often preferred for its simplicity and for minimizing conflict and stress during the divorce proceedings.

  • Fault Divorce

In contrast, a fault divorce requires the petitioner to prove that their spouse's misconduct caused the marriage to break down. 

Grounds for a fault divorce in New Hampshire include adultery, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, and abandonment, among others.

 Opting for a fault divorce may impact decisions on alimony, child custody, and property division, but it usually involves a more complex and lengthy legal process.

How much does a divorce cost in New Hampshire?

The cost of a divorce in New Hampshire varies, influenced by factors like the dispute's nature and legal representation.

Here are some of the most common costs associated with divorcing in New Hampshire: 

  • Filing Fees: This is the fee you pay to file for divorce with the courts. Typically, this fee is around $250. It increases to $252 for those with minor children, reflecting the complexity of child-related issues.

  • Attorney Fees: These fees generally range from $200 to $300 per hour, depending on the attorney’s experience and case complexity.

  • Mediation Costs: Mediation typically costs around $100 to $300 per hour. While this may seem expensive at first, mediation offers a cost-effective alternative to litigation, which is even more costly. 

  • Miscellaneous Expenses: This can include costs for filing motions and document handling, with potential additional fees for experts if needed.

It's important to note that simpler divorces, especially those where couples can agree on key issues like property division and child custody, tend to be less expensive.

How do you file for divorce in New Hampshire?

Filing for divorce in New Hampshire requires fulfilling specific criteria and submitting the right documents within set timeframes. 

Here are some of the things you need to know when filing for divorce: 

  1. Residency: At least one spouse must have lived in New Hampshire for a year. The residency requirement is waived if both spouses live in New Hampshire and the filing is in the respondent's county of residence.

  2. Documents: Prepare and file the divorce petition, financial affidavits, and, if applicable, documents related to child custody and support. All necessary forms are available on the New Hampshire Judicial Branch website.

  3. Filing and fees: Submit the documents to the county court with a $250 fee ($252 if involving minor children).

  4. Serve your spouse: Notify your spouse by serving the divorce papers, giving them the chance to respond.

  5. Response time: The respondent has 30 days to answer the petition and file any counterclaims.

  6. Next steps: Participate in required mediation or hearings as directed by the court.

  7. Finalization: After resolving all matters, the court issues the final divorce decree, legally ending the marriage.

How do you split assets in a divorce in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, the division of assets during a divorce follows the equitable distribution model, which aims to divide marital property fairly, though not necessarily equally. 

The steps and factors considered in this process include:

  1. Identification of assets: First, all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are identified. This includes everything from real estate and retirement accounts to personal property and debts.

  2. Classification of assets: Assets are classified as either marital or separate. Marital assets are those acquired during the marriage, while separate assets are those owned before the marriage or received as gifts or inheritances by one spouse.

  3. Valuation of assets: Once classified, assets are then valued, typically based on their current market value.

  4. Division of assets: The court considers several factors in dividing assets, such as:

    • The duration of the marriage.

    • Each spouse's age, health, and economic and non-economic contributions to the marriage.

    • Each spouse’s earning capacity, including educational background and employment skills.

    • The need for a custodial parent to occupy or own the marital home.

This process ensures that the division is conducted in a manner deemed fair by the court, taking into account each case's specific circumstances.

How does alimony work in New Hampshire?

Alimony, or spousal support, is a payment from one spouse to the other to maintain a semblance of the lifestyle they had during the marriage. 

In New Hampshire, alimony is awarded based on need and the ability to pay, with several factors influencing its determination:

  • The length of the marriage.

  • The age, health, and social or economic status of each spouse.

  • The occupation, amount and sources of income, the property awarded in the divorce, and the vocational skills of each spouse.

  • The opportunity for each spouse to acquire capital assets and income.

  • The fault of either spouse in the breakdown of the marriage.

Depending on these factors, alimony can be temporary, for a fixed period, or permanent. 

What happens to children during a divorce in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, child custody and support decisions are made with the child’s best interests as the foremost priority. Factors the court will consider include:

  • The relationship of the child with each parent.

  • Each parent's ability to provide care, love, and guidance.

  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community.

  • The health, both mental and physical, of all individuals involved.

  • The parent's willingness to foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.

Custody arrangements can be joint or sole, encompassing both physical and legal custody. Child support, meanwhile, is determined using a formula that factors in both parents' incomes, the child's needs, and any extraordinary expenses.

Steps for determining child custody and support:

  1. Filing a petition: Either parent can file a petition for child custody and support as part of the divorce proceedings.

  2. Mediation or court intervention: Parents are encouraged to reach an agreement on custody and support through mediation. If an agreement can't be reached, the court will intervene.

  3. Court decision: The court makes a decision based on the best interests of the child, considering the factors listed above.

  4. Issuance of orders: Finally, the court issues custody and support orders, which may be modified in the future if circumstances change.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor suited to meet your needs. 

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