New Hampshire divorce details
Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in New Hampshire
The two main types of divorce refer to whether you want to contest the case or not.
A Contested Divorce is what is commonly associated with a “traditional” divorce. It is a time-consuming process, full of argues and misunderstandings. Each spouse has a goal to win the case, and their attorneys fight in court for the clients' interests. Numerous hearings lead to the high expenses on attorneys' fees, as they charge an hourly payment. 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 rules the same issues as a contested one, but under an uncontested divorce that the spouses are able to resolve the most essential problems of their case without a court order. An uncontested divorce is assumed like a joint deal of the spouses. It’s good if your intention to divorce is mutual and you can negotiate in a civilized way. You both can save a lot of time and money, deciding not to contest the divorce case.
Uncontested Divorce in New Hampshire
To start a divorce case one of the spouses should initiate the proceeding filing the Petition for Divorce. In New Hampshire, you can file as a Petitioner and then serve your partner with divorce forms as well as you and your spouse together can file a Joint Petition. It’s better if, at the moment of filing the Petition all the important issues like property division, parental rights and support are already agreed, but if they aren’t, you still may file as co-petitioners and rely on the Judge’s decision. A Joint Petition helps to save time as it is no need to give a non-filing spouse the stated 10 days to submit an answer to the court.
Grounds for Divorce in New Hampshire
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 the misconduct. There are 10 fault grounds for divorce in NH:
- 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.
New Hampshire Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
To file for divorce in New Hampshire the couple must meet the current Residency Requirements of the state by the moment of filing the Petition. These requirements are:
- Both spouses must be residents of the state, and the filing spouse must reside there for at least 12 months, or…
- The grounds for divorce must been occured in NH 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?
Whatever special details accompany your divorce case, there are some common steps you definitely have to take to get an uncontested divorce under New Hampshire jurisdiction.
- File a Petition for divorce (Sole or Joint), pay the court fee.
- Filing as a Petitioner, you should serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork. File the Return of Service with the Court to be sure that the court knows that the service was succeeds.
- Your spouse has 15 days to respond the Petition. He/she 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 uncontested divorce takes not more than a month if the spouses are in agreement.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in New Hampshire
Filing for divorce in New Hampshire it is allowed to arrange the case without an attorney’s assistance. Not every case fits for DIY divorce, but if you are sure that your case is simple enough you may save a pretty money.
Foremost, a DIY divorce is an uncontested divorce. The main condition of a do-it-yourself divorce is an ability to negotiate with your spouse and reach a mutually acceptable agreement. It is easier if you have not children or huge assets, and so your case doesn’t imply resolving some complicated financial issues.
Nowadays, the DIY divorce becomes easier and more achievable due to the convenient Judicial Branch websites of each state which often provide self-help guides and divorce forms. Also, you can find a lot of useful information online and try to sort out all the divorce rules by yourself, or just seek for a help of online divorce company like ours.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce cost?
In New Hampshire, a possible cost of an uncontested divorce starts with $250 of a filing fee, which is mandatory pay for court services.
Additional payments may include mediator’s fees, sheriff’s fees, and other. They may vary considerably.
If you decided to hire an attorney for the uncontested divorce, this help may cost between $500 and $2000 per case.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in New Hampshire?
The typical uncontested divorce in New Hampshire takes between one and three months. A length of the proceeding usually depends on whether there are children 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.
Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in New Hampshire
Your individual case may dictate the necessity of some additional efforts and documents, but here is the basic list of forms which surely are needed for any uncontested divorce in NH:
- 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).
How to Serve Your Spouse in New Hampshire
Surely, you don’t need to serve your spouse at all if you file the Joint Petition. But if there are some circumstances that prevent you to walk this way you may choose of three options how to deliver the divorce paperwork to your spouse:
- The non-filing spouse can pick up the papers from the court by him/herself (he/she has 10 days to go to the courthouse and an additional 15 days to give an answer).
- You as a Petitioner can send the forms by certified mail.
- You can hire the Sheriff service to hand the documents directly to your spouse.
Online Divorce in New Hampshire
Although there is no mandatory final hearing in an uncontested divorce in NH, you can’t get a divorce all-online without a single appearance in the courthouse, because you must file the Petition. However, the good news is you can do most of the job online. With the help of our online divorce service you can receive the prepared set of needed forms within a day, downloading them on your computer. Also we provide a qualified support and dan review the completed forms. You will only have to sign the forms and submit all the paperwork to the court. Online divorce in NH is an easy and modern way to terminate your marriage without any worries.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, the new law determines a child custody as “parental rights and responsibilities” now. This helps to accent the broad concept of upbringing, which involves much more than just a physical custody. Deciding the parental rights and responsibilities NH 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, so there are:
- Residential Responsibility (Physical custody). This type determines to with whom the child lives.
- Decision Making Responsibility (aka Legal custody). This is about who is responsible for some choices which can greatly affect the child’s life, regardless of whether the parent has a Residential Responsibility or not.
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. A 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 “Child Support Guidelines”. This system takes into account that both 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 Obligee, because a non-custodial parent hasn’t an opportunity to support the child in daily issues.
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 the certain requirements are met. So, 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 to seek for employment and support yourself, and, surely, your former spouse must have a 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. The numerous factors like length of marriage, fault grounds for divorce, each spouse’s property, income and earning capacity, 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, as most of American states, is an Equitable distribution state. What does it mean? During the divorce proceeding all the marital property must be divided not equally, but fairly. The court is ready to consider a lot of aspects that can affect the division, and if the spouses decided to arrange an uncontested divorce they should rule the property division by themselves or with the help of the mediator.
A significant detail of how the property is divided under the New Hampshire divorce laws is that there is a presumption that all the property of the spouses is marital regardless of whether it was acquired prior to marriage or not and what the title says. If the one spouse wants to keep their separate pre-married property, or maybe personal gift or inheritance, he/she should present any evidence why the court should determine an equitable distribution in his/her favor.
Division of Debt in New Hampshire
As well as the property, the marital debt can be divided by the spouses independently by the Marital Settlement Agreement or the division may be ruled by the Circuit court according to “equitable distribution” principles.
To divide the debt in a just way, the court determines the debt as marital or not. Then it must be taken into account who caused and collected the debt, what was the purpose of the loan/credit/etc, and whether both spouses were aware of the debt.
Divorce Mediation in New Hampshire
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution. During the divorce, the spouses recourse to mediation in addition to litigation or instead of it. Mediation helps to reach a mutually acceptable Settlement Agreement, so it is a very important option for uncontested divorce, especially if the children-related issues or 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 as the judge does it, but he/she may advice what the decisions are reasonable, and express their opinion on what the court would do in a certain case. Briefly, the mediator helps the parties to build a strategy of a divorce proceeding and reach an agreement.
How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in New Hampshire
If you can’t locate your spouse or don’t sure if he/she still lives at the previous address, you will need some additional efforts but you still can get a divorce. This option is called “Divorce by Publication”.
Foremost you should try to serve your spouse with the Petition and the Summons in a regular way by Sheriff’s service or by certified mail. Officially, the other party has 15 days to respond. Once you failed to serve your spouse, and after the diligent search which implies checking their last known address, employment, asking the acquaintances and relatives and so on, you should file and submit to the court an “Affidavit of Diligent Search”. This form provides the court with all the necessary information about your attempts to find the missing spouse and to serve him/her a divorce paperwork in a 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 any participation of your spouse.
Default Divorce in New Hampshire
Divorce by Default judgment is a motion to enter a final divorce decree without a participation of the Defendant (a non-filing spouse). It can be entered if the Defendant was served with a Petition but fails to respond it or, as in the described above case, if the Defendant was served by publication due to inability to serve them personally.
When the court schedules a default hearing, both spouses receive an appropriate notice which gives the last opportunity to express their will.
Annulment of the Marriage in New Hampshire
Annulment is a type of dissolving the marriage that implies that the marriage was initially void and illegal. The law treats an annulled marriage as the one that had never existed.
An annulment procedure is quite easy and quick. If the spouses are agreed there is no need even in a single court hearing. However, in New Hampshire, there are just 5 grounds that allow you to annul the marriage. They are:
- Underage marriage or other marriage without the guardian/parent 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, to serve your spouse with the necessary paperwork and to resolve all the important issues such as property division and parental rights and responsibilities with the "Separation agreement" or rely on the court decision. I.e. you should take the same steps as in divorce case, filling out other forms.
The main feature of the Legal Separation is that officially the spouses remain married, they are not allowed to marry others.
Unlike most other states, in New Hampshire, the Legal separation has no time limit, so you don’t need to require the divorce or reconcile after a certain time.
Same-Sex Divorce in New Hampshire
Same-sex marriage, and therefore the right to divorce, is recognized in New Hampshire since January 2010. It made NH the sixth state that declared all couples' equal rights for ruling their relationship as they want. So, it can be said the Granite state has a relatively long experience of resolving LGBT couples’ divorce issues.
Both straight and gay couples have the same rights and should make the same steps to obtain a divorce. The only difficulty may arise if the spouses had lived as a married couple before they gained a right to legal marriage and they collected the substantial property while cohabitated. In fact, this property is marital, but in the eyes of law it's still separate, and sometimes the spouses may need assistance to divide it in a proper way.
Military Divorce in New Hampshire
Generally, if you or your spouse is a military member your divorce won't differ a lot from a regular civil divorce. The grounds to terminate the marriage are the same, as well as all the basic steps and issues to resolve. However, there are some federal laws that affect the residency requirements, serving rules, and the financial issues.
- Residency requirements. You can file for divorce in NH not only if you reside in the state, but also if you/your partner is stationed here as a military member.
- Serving your spouse. In the US, all the military members are protected from the default judgment by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. The divorce proceeding may be postponed for the whole period of a duty plus 60 days after that. As for uncontested divorce, the military spouse may not have to be served until he/she waives the Service of Process.
- Financial issues. A military pension is not subject to division unless the spouses were married 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
It is quite easy to get a divorce in New Hampshire, so if your spouse is incarcerated there are also some ways how to obtain a quick divorce. Speaking of uncontested divorce, you may serve your spouse with a paperwork in a regular way while he/she is in prison. And if you’ve reached an agreement there is no need for you both to be present at the court hearing.
New Hampshire Divorce Filing Fee
A filing fee is an initial payment for the divorce case, which is charged at the time you file the Petition in order to cover the court services.
The sum may slightly vary by the county. In New Hampshire, the filing fee is about $250, what is almost like an average nationwide rate($300).
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
The answer is yes. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you may be exempt from paying it. For that, you must complete and submit a special “Motion to Waive Filing Fees” form, which provides the court with all the necessary data characterizing your real financial situation.
How We Can Help
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