Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide


New Hampshire Divorce Laws



Residency Requirements for Divorce in New Hampshire
  1. Both spouses must be residents of the state when the divorce is filed for
  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 1 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 in New Hampshire

  1. No Fault Divorce: Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
    [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 487:7a]
  2. General Divorce:
    1. Impotence
    2. Adultery
    3. Abandonment and not being 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. Extreme cruelty
    8. Habitual intemperance (drunkenness) for 2 years
    9. Living separate and apart without cohabitation for 2 years
    10. Mental abuse
    [New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapters 458:7, 458:7a, and 458:26].
Legal Separation in New Hampshire
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 1 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/Special Divorce Procedures in New Hampshire
There are no legal provisions in New Hampshire for simplified divorce procedures.

Divorce 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 458:6, 458:7B, and 458:15-a].

Divorce 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
  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 and 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
  2. The spouse to pay is able to meet his or her reasonable needs, taking into account the standard of living during the marriage
  3. The spouse in need is unable to support himself 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
  13. The social and economic status of each spouse
[New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:19].

Spouse's Name After Divorce
A spouse's former name may be restored in a divorce.
[New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:24].

Child Custody After Divorce
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 1 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
  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 a factor in modifying custody arrangements. Stepparents or grandparents may be granted visitation rights.
[New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapter 458:17].

Child Support After Divorce
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, stepchildren, or natural or adopted children
  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
  8. The costs of providing college educations to any natural or adopted children
  9. 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, and 458-C:1-5].


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