New Hampshire divorce details
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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in New Hampshire
There are two main types of divorce: contested and uncontested.
A contested divorce is when the spouses are unable to come to an agreement regarding the issues of their divorce. As a result, they have to attend numerous court hearings and spend a lot of money on attorney fees. Nowadays, many jurisdictions officially recommend litigation only as a last resort, as in most cases, an uncontested divorce is more reasonable and convenient.
An uncontested divorce is when the spouses are able to resolve their controversial issues without a court order. The decision to get divorced is mutual between both parties and there are no issues to be contested at court. Such a process can help you save a lot of time and money.
Uncontested Divorce in New Hampshire
In order to start a divorce case, one of the spouses should initiate the proceeding by filing a Petition for Divorce. In New Hampshire, you can file as a Petitioner and then serve your partner with the necessary paperwork or file a Joint Petition together. A Joint Petition helps to save time as there is no need to serve the spouse nor the need to wait for the standard 10 days for the non-filing spouse to file an answer with the court.
Grounds for Divorce in New Hampshire
New Hampshire recognizes a no-fault ground and 10 fault grounds for divorce.
The no-fault ground for divorce is “Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage”. You are not required to declare your spouse’s misconduct or blame anyone for the dissolution, and you get to keep all the details of your private life to yourself. The majority of uncontested divorces proceed on this no-fault base.
New Hampshire recognizes both the only no-fault ground and 10 fault grounds for divorce.
The no-fault ground for divorce is “Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage”. You don’t declare the spouse’s misconduct, don't blame anyone for your dissolution, and you keep all the details of your private life. The majority of uncontested divorces proceed on this no-fault base.
Fault ground can also be pointed as a ground for uncontested divorce in some rare cases. But then you should be sure that your spouse is ready to admit to the misconduct. There are 10 fault grounds for divorce in New Hampshire:
- Incarceration for more than a year
- Physical abuse or reasonable apprehension of physical threat
- Mental abuse
- For wife, desertion without the support of husband for two years
- Habitual drunkenness for two years
- Joining a religious sect or society "which professes to believe the relation of the husband and wife unlawful, and has refused to cohabit with the other for six months,"
- Living separate and apart for two years.
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New Hampshire Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
To file for divorce in New Hampshire, the couple must meet certain residency requirements:
- Both spouses must be residents of the state, and the filing spouse must reside there for at least 12 months
- R, the grounds for divorce must have occured in New Hampshire and either of the spouses must be a resident of the state for at least 12 months.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in New Hampshire
Regardless of your individual case, there are common steps you need to take to get an uncontested divorce in New Hampshire:
- File a Petition for divorce (Sole or Joint) and pay the court fee.
- As the Petitioner, you should serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork. File the Return of Service with the Court to make sure that the court knows that the service was successful.
- Your spouse has 15 days to respond to the Petition. They should respond by filing an Appearance if the case is uncontested.
- As New Hampshire doesn’t have a so-called “cooling-off” period, the divorce can be granted as soon as the spouses sign the Settlement Agreement and the Judge considers the case.
- You have to attend a brief final hearing only if you have children. Typically, if the case is uncontested, there is no need to meet in the court. The whole process of an uncontested divorce takes no more than a month if the spouses are in agreement.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in New Hampshire
Do-It-Yourself divorce refers to a process where you complete all the steps of the divorce procedure on your own without the help of an attorney. Foremost, a DIY divorce is an uncontested divorce. The main condition of such a process is that you are able to negotiate and come to an agreement with the terms of the divorce with your spouse.
Nowadays, DIY divorce is becoming easier and more achievable due to the convenient Judicial Branch websites of each state that often provide self-help guides and the divorce forms. Furthermore, you can consider seeking help in the preparation of documents from online services like ours.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce cost?
In New Hampshire, the cost of an uncontested divorce starts off with $250 for the filing fee, which is mandatory for court services.
Additional costs may include mediator fees, sheriff fees, and several others. Depending on your case, the services required may vary.
If you decide to hire an attorney for an uncontested case, the cost vary between $500 to $2,000 per case.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in New Hampshire?
The typical uncontested divorce in New Hampshire takes between one to three months. The length of the proceeding usually depends on whether there are any children related issues involved. New Hampshire doesn’t have any mandatory waiting period, so the length of the divorce proceeding directly depends on the spouses. It is in the common interest to agree on all the important points and sign a Marital Agreement as soon as possible.
How to Serve Your Spouse in New Hampshire
You are not required to serve your spouse if you file a Joint Petition. In the case you file as the Sole Petitioner, there are three ways to deliver the paperwork to your spouse:
- The non-filing spouse can pick up the papers from the court themselves (they have 10 days to go to the courthouse and an additional 15 days to give an answer).
- You can send the forms by certified mail.
- You can hire the Sheriff service to hand the documents directly to your spouse.
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Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in New Hampshire
Your individual case may dictate the necessity of some additional efforts and documents, but below is the basic list of forms that you will need for any uncontested case in New Hampshire:
- Joint Petition for Divorce (NHJB-2058-F) / Individual Petition for Divorce (NHJB-2057-F)
- Personal Data Sheet (NHJB-2077-F)
- Financial Affidavit (NHJB-2065-F). This form must be completed by each spouse.
- Parenting Plan (NHJB-2064-F), and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (NHJB-2101-FP). These forms regulate custody & support issues if the children are involved.
- Final Decree on Divorce or Legal Separation (NHJB-2071-F).
Online Divorce in New Hampshire
Online divorce refers to the process of preparing all the necessary documents accurately through an online service. You just need to order the papers, pay the filing fee, print out the documents, and file them at court. Such a process can help you save a lot of money as compared to getting the documents completed with the help of an attorney. For just $139, you can rest assured that the documents are prepared accurately and on time to be approved by the court.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, the new law determines child custody as “parental rights and responsibilities”. This helps to accent the broad concept of upbringing, which involves much more than just physical custody. When deciding the parental rights and responsibilities, New Hampshire courts act in accordance with the best interests of the child. An ability to give the child the best life from safety to meeting the developmental needs is the only cause to grant the parent these rights and responsibilities.
Parental rights and responsibilities can cover two parts of a child’s life:
- Residential Responsibility (Physical custody). This determines with whom the child lives with.
- Decision Making Responsibility (Legal custody). This refers to the decision-making power in regard to important issues of the child’s life.
In New Hampshire, a shared Decision Making Responsibility is ordered by the court in most cases, unless it is proven that it may be harmful to the child. Residential Responsibility is often split, but both parents are still encouraged to spend more or less equal time with their child, and to be involved in the child’s everyday life.
An amount of child support is regulated by the “Child Support Guidelines”. This system takes into account that both the custodial and non-custodial parent (called Obligee and Obligor) have to contribute to their child’s expenses. However, it’s an Obligor who must pay a certain (calculated according to both parents’ income and other details) amount of money to the Obligee, because a non-custodial parent doesn’t have the opportunity to support the child daily.
Rules for Spousal Support in New Hampshire
Spousal support or alimony may be ordered by the court to be paid by one spouse to the other if certain requirements are met. In order to request an alimony, you need to have a low income that doesn’t match your standard of living before the divorce. Also, there must be reasons that prevent you from seeking employment and supporting yourself. Your former spouse must also have the financial opportunity to support you both at the same level.
There is no special formula to calculate an alimony, so each case is considered separately by the court. Numerous factors such as the length of marriage, fault grounds for divorce, each spouse’s property, income and earning capacity, and each spouse’s age and health condition must be taken into account. Only after that, the Judge can determine an acceptable amount and duration of alimony.
Division of Property in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is an equitable distribution state. This means that during the divorce proceeding, all the marital property must be divided not equally, but fairly. The court is ready to consider the many aspects that can affect the division. If the spouses decided to arrange an uncontested divorce, they should rule the property division by themselves or with the help of a mediator.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a presumption that all property between the spouses is marital, regardless of whether it was acquired prior to marriage or not and what the title says. If a spouse wants to keep their separate property, they should present evidence as to why the court should determine an equitable distribution in their favor.
Division of Debt in New Hampshire
Just like property, marital debt can be divided by the spouses independently with the Marital Settlement Agreement or the division may be ruled by the Circuit court according to the “equitable distribution” principles.
To divide the debt in a just way, the court determines the debt as marital or not. It then takes into account who caused and collected the debt, what the purpose of the debt is, and whether both spouses were aware of it.
Divorce Mediation in New Hampshire
Mediation is an alternative to dispute resolution. Mediation helps to reach a mutually acceptable Settlement Agreement. Thus, it is a very important option for an uncontested divorce, especially if issues regarding child custody and property division are involved.
During the mediation session, the spouses meet and negotiate under the guidance of a qualified mediator. The mediator doesn’t order something, but they may provide advice on what decisions are reasonable and express their opinion on what the court would do in certain cases. The mediator basically helps the spouses to build a strategy for the divorce proceeding and reach an agreement.
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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in New Hampshire
You can get a divorce even if you are unable to locate your spouse. This option is called “Divorce by Publication”.
You need to first attempt to serve your spouse with the Petition and Summons the normal way. Officially, your spouse has 15 days to respond. If you fail to locate your spouse and serve them with the paperwork, you need to file and submit to the court an “Affidavit of Diligent Search”. This form provides the court with all the necessary information regarding your attempts to find your missing spouse and to serve them the paperwork the proper way.
If the court approves the Affidavit, you may file a “Motion for Alternative Service through Publication” form and be allowed to publish the Summons in a local newspaper of a county your spouse is likely to live. The notice must be published once a week for three weeks. After that period, the divorce can be granted by default - without the participation of your spouse.
Default Divorce in New Hampshire
Divorce by default judgment is a motion to enter a final divorce decree without the participation of the Defendant (non-filing spouse). It can be entered if the Defendant was served with a Petition but fails to respond it or, as in the case described above, if the Defendant was served by publication.
When the court schedules a default hearing, both spouses receive an appropriate notice which gives them the last opportunity to express their will.
Annulment of Marriage in New Hampshire
Annulment is a process that recognizes a marriage as invalid, or as it never existed.
An annulment procedure is quite easy and quick. If the spouses are in agreement, there is no need for even a single court hearing. However, in New Hampshire, there are just 5 grounds that allow you to annul the marriage:
- Underage marriage or marriage without the parents’ consent in the case the consent was required.
- Fraud marriage (the consent to marriage obtained by lies).
- Duress marriage (the consent to marriage obtained by threat).
- Closely related spouses (incest).
Legal Separation in New Hampshire
Legal separation is one more way to terminate the married life in New Hampshire. The procedure of a Legal separation is very similar to divorce. You should file a Complaint, serve your spouse with the necessary paperwork, and resolve all the important issues such as property division and parental rights or rely on the court decision.
The main feature of Legal Separation is that the spouses still remain officially married and they are not allowed to remarry.
Unlike most other states, in New Hampshire, Legal separation has no time limit. Thus, you don’t need to divorce or reconcile after a certain time.
Same-Sex Divorce in New Hampshire
Same-sex marriage and divorce were recognized in New Hampshire in January 2010. It made New Hampshire the sixth state to declare equal rights to gay couples.
The divorce process for same-sex couples is the same as any other divorce procedure. However, the difficulty arises when it comes to the issue of property division. Since many same-sex couples cohabitated long before gay marriage became legal, it can be difficult to distinguish between common property and separate property.
Military Divorce in New Hampshire
The divorce process with a military spouse is quite similar to any other civil divorce. However, there are some federal laws that affect the residency requirements, serving rules, and property division.
- Residency requirements. You can file for divorce in New Hampshire not only if you reside in the state, but also if you or your partner is stationed there as a military member.
- Serving your spouse. In the US, all military members are protected from default judgment by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. The divorce proceeding may be postponed for the whole period of active duty plus 60 days after that. As for uncontested divorce, the military spouse may not have to be served until they waive the Service of Process.
- Financial issues. Military pension is not subject to division unless the spouses were married for more than 10 years. Spousal or child support amount can’t be more than 60% of the military spouse’s pay and allowances.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in New Hampshire
To divorce a spouse currently in jail, you must serve them with all the necessary paperwork either through the post or personally. The other steps of the process are the exact same as any other standard divorce procedure.
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New Hampshire Divorce Filing Fee
Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using DivorceFiller.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
The filing fee may be waived for indigent petitioners. You must complete and submit a special “Motion to Waive Filing Fees” form which provides the court with proof regarding your financial difficulties.
How We Can Help
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