Child Support in New Hampshire

Learn how New Hampshire's child support guidelines work, including how to calculate, collect, and change the amount of support in your case.

By , Retired Judge
Considering Divorce? We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.
First Name is required
First Name is required

Like every other state, New Hampshire has child support guidelines. These guidelines are meant to provide judges and parents with a consistent method for calculating how much parents should pay in child support. There are many elements involved in calculating child support, and it can seem a bit overwhelming at first. The state does provide online tools to help you complete the child support worksheet (more on that below). But before you tackle that, it will help to have a basic understanding of how the guidelines work in New Hampshire.

Who Pays Child Support in New Hampshire?

Both parents are legally required to support their children financially. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:1(I) (2024).)

When parents are divorced or separated, one parent usually has physical custody ("residential responsibility" in New Hampshire) of their child or children more than half the time. Typically, the other parent pays child support to the custodial parent.

But that doesn't mean custodial parents aren't paying their fair share. Each parent is responsible for a percentage of the total support obligation based on their proportionate share of their combined incomes. The guidelines assume that custodial parents meet their obligation by paying directly for the children's daily expenses, such as food, clothing, and housing. So, in the end, both parents are contributing to their child's financial support one way or the other.

Calculating Basic Child Support Under New Hampshire's Guidelines

In New Hampshire, child support is primarily based on parental income and the number of children to be supported. Here's an overview of the steps for calculating support under the state's guidelines (we'll go into more detail below):

  • Add up each parent's gross monthly income.
  • Subtract allowable deductions, and add or subtract other adjustments to arrive at each parent's adjusted gross income (AGI).
  • Use the current child support guideline calculation table (which includes tax deductions) to find the guideline amount of support for both parents' combined income level and the number of children being supported.
  • Make the adjustments that are allowed in your situation to arrive at the each parent's total AGI and their combined total.
  • Multiply each parent's AGI by the amount of their total combined AGI to determine their proportional shares of income. The resulting percentages will represent each parent's share of the total child support obligation.

As an easy example of the bottom line, say the noncustodial parent's AGI is 60% of both parents' total combined AGI. If the total child support obligation is $3,000 per month, the noncustodial parent would pay $1,800 a month (60% of $3,000).

What Counts as Income When Calculating Child Support?

New Hampshire's child support guidelines use three different measures of income in the calculations: gross income, adjusted gross income, and net income.

  • Gross income includes income from almost any source, such as as wages, tips, commissions, self-employment income, pensions, alimony, unemployment benefits, veterans' benefits, and workers' compensation or disability benefits. But it doesn't include overtime pay that an hourly employee earns occasionally or seasonally. Also, it doesn't include public assistance, such as SNAP (food stamps).
  • Adjusted gross income is gross income minus court-ordered support for others (such as alimony or child support for kids from a previous relationship), mandatory retirement contributions, actual payments for state income taxes and half of self-employment taxes, and payments for child care and health coverage for the child (more on that below)
  • Net income is adjusted gross income minus standard deductions based on withholding amounts for federal income tax, Medicare, and Social Security taxes.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:2 (2024).)

When New Hampshire Judges May Impute Income to Parents

Unfortunately, some parents try to avoid their duty to pay child support, usually by quitting a job or taking low-paying employment. New Hampshire judges have the authority to impute (assign) additional income to a parent who's voluntarily underemployed or unemployed without a legitimate reason.

In most situations, it's up to the individual judge to decide whether this is appropriate under the circumstances. So, for instance, a judge may decide not to impute income to a parent who:

  • has decided to go back to school to increase the potential for future earnings, or
  • is staying home to care for a young child.

However, judges must impute income from a new spouse when a noncustodial parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed (more on that below).

When judges are imputing income to a parent, they may calculate gross income as all or part of the difference between a parent's past and current earnings, unless that parent is physically or mentally incapacitated.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:2(IV)(a) (2024); In re Muller, 62 A.3d 770 (N.H. 2013); In re Lynn, 972 A.2d 1046 (N.H. 2009); In re Bazemore, 899 A.2d 225 (N.H. 2006).)

Adjustments to Child Support in New Hampshire

New Hampshire's child support guidelines include adjustments for:

  • the cost of health insurance for the child, and
  • expenses for child care that's necessary because of the custodial parent's employment or education to gain work skills.

The guidelines also include a "Self-Support Reserve" to ensure that the parent who's ordered to pay child support will be left with enough money to sustain at least a minimum standard of living. The self-support reserve equals 115% of the federal poverty level (which was $1,397 per month in 2023). You can find the dollar amount of the current self-support reserve in the upper left corner of each page of the tables in the guideline booklet (more below on where to find that).

When Child Support May Differ From the Guideline Amount

New Hampshire law presumes that the amount of child support calculated under the guidelines is correct in any case. But that presumption is rebuttable, meaning that a parent can overcome it with evidence proving that the guideline amount would be unfair or inappropriate because of special circumstances. The law provides some examples of special circumstances that may warrant deviating from the guideline amount, including:

  • ongoing extraordinary medical, dental, or education expenses, including expenses related to a child's special needs
  • either parent's significantly high or low income
  • the economic consequences of the fact that stepparents and other children (including stepchildren or children from a new marriage) are living in a parent's household
  • the economic consequences of the disposition of the family home in the divorce if it was done for the children's benefit (such as when the custodial parent was allowed to keep the house so the kids could stay there)
  • the tax consequences of child support (including the right to claim the kids as dependents on income tax returns)
  • the noncustodial parent's reasonable expenses related to parenting time (such as travel expenses for visitation)
  • either parent's support for a child's college expenses, and
  • how much time the child has with each parent under the parenting schedule.

The fact that parents have equal (or roughly equal) parenting time won't automatically mean that there's no need for child support. By itself, it won't even necessarily warrant a deviation from the guidelines. Instead, the judge will look at the specific circumstances when deciding whether to adjust the amount of support, including how the parents are splitting up expenses for the child.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 458-C:4(II), 458-C:5 (2024).

Can Parents Agree on a Child Support Amount?

Most parents reach an agreement about child support. In fact, the guidelines were designed to encourage those agreements.

But you'll need to submit your agreement to the court for a judge's approval. And if the amount you've agreed on is different that the amount calculated under the guidelines, the judge will need to look at the circumstances to determine whether the guideline amount would be unfair or inappropriate (as discussed above). So you should be prepared to demonstrate why that's the case.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:4(IV) (2024).)

When Does Child Support End in New Hampshire?

The obligation to pay child support in New Hampshire remains in effect until children:

  • complete their high school education or reach the age of 18 years, whichever is later
  • get married
  • become a member of the armed services, or
  • are legally emancipated.

If the parents have a child with disabilities, a judge may order that child support continue after age 18—not beyond age of 21.

Judges in New Hampshire may not order a parent to contribute to an adult child's college expenses unless both parents agreed to that, and the judge approved their written agreement.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 461-A:14(IV), 461-A:21 (2024).)

How to Apply for Child Support in New Hampshire

When parents are getting divorced (or legally separated), child support is handled as part of the divorce process. You can request child support when you file your divorce papers or petition for legal separation..

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you may request support by applying for services from the Bureau of Child Support Services (BCSS).

Collecting and Enforcing Child Support in New Hampshire

When noncustodial parents are employed, they usually pay child support through income withholding. That way, the support amount is deducted from their paycheck. Otherwise, BCSS offers parents different payment methods.

If you're a custodial parent having trouble collecting child support, you can request enforcement services from the BCSS. The agency has a number of tools for encouraging parents to pay support or collecting the money, including:

  • revoking or suspending drivers' and occupational licenses
  • reporting the debt to credit bureaus
  • intercepting tax refunds or lottery winnings, and
  • placing liens on property, so that the parent can't sell or take out loans on the property until the debt is paid.

Also, the agency or the custodial parent may file a request to have a deadbeat parent found in contempt of court, which could lead to fines and even jail time.

But one thing you may not do to try to collect overdue child support is keep the other parent from seeing your child under the provisions in your custody and parenting time (visitation) order. And if you're the one paying child support, you aren't allowed to stop those payments just because the other parent is withholding visitation.

How to Request a Change in Child Support

Under New Hampshire law, you may apply for a change in the amount of child support that you're paying or receiving. The requirements for a modification request differ depending on how long it's been since your existing support order was issued:

  • If it's been less than three years, you'll need to prove that there's been a substantial change of circumstances that warrants a modification.
  • If it's been three years or more, you don't need to demonstrate a change of circumstances. Instead, you may simply request a review to see if the support amount should be adjusted based on your current financial circumstances.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:7(I)(a) (2024).)

If one or both of the parents get married again, that won't—by itself—warrant a support modification. But some circumstances related to the parent's remarriage might affect child support in New Hampshire.

You may ask for help from the BCSS, request a child support modification directly from the court, or ask a family lawyer for assistance.

Resources and Help With Child Support

Along with the resources mentioned above, the New Hampshire Child Support Guidelines page provides links to the current guidelines booklet, worksheet, and child support calculator. But be aware that the calculator will only provide an estimate of the amount of support a judge may order in your case. The actual amount may depend on your specific situation, including special circumstances that warrant a deviation from the guidelines (as discussed above).

But you may need help from a family law attorney if you're dealing with a complicated situation—especially when one parent is arguing for a deviation from the guideline amount of support.

Considering Divorce?
Talk to a Divorce attorney.
We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you