This article discusses the laws and rules related to getting a divorce in New Hampshire.
You may file for a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, meaning there is no hope for repairing the marriage. You may also file for divorce based on fault if you can prove that your spouse was guilty of adultery, extreme physical or mental cruelty, a felony, alcohol abuse, or abandonment for more than two years.
The filing spouse must be a New Hampshire resident for at least one year before filing for divorce, and you may file your petition in the county where either spouse lives. There is no waiting period for divorce in New Hampshire; the court will enter a decree of divorce once the spouses prove the grounds, whether irreconcilable differences or fault-based.
Get more detailed information about the divorce filing process, read How to File for Divorce in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will divide marital property based on what is fair, but the division will not necessarily be equal. Marital property is any property, including income and real property, that either spouse acquired during the marriage. When making an order the court will consider the length of the marriage, each spouse's occupation, skills, employability, and financial resources, and the needs of the custodial parent and children.
(To learn more, see New Hampshire: Dividing Property).
The court may order one spouse to pay temporary or permanent alimony to the other spouse if there's a clear financial need or the recipient spouse is unable to be self-supporting. Before deciding on an alimony amount, the court will consider the length of the marriage, each spouse's income, education, and economic opportunities, the standard of living during the marriage, and how the marital property was divided. It may also consider each spouse's financial and other contributions to the marriage, and whether one spouse needs education or job training to return to the workforce. Either spouse may request a modification of the order if there is a change in financial circumstances.
(See Understanding and Calculating Alimony in New Hampshire for detailed information).
Both parents are obligated to financially support their child until the child turns 18 or completes high school, whichever is later. New Hampshire calculates child support based on the number of children in the family and the parents' combined income. The court may adjust the amount if the child has additional medical, dental, or educational costs. Child support payments are automatically deducted from the paying parent's paycheck unless both parents agree otherwise. Either parent may request a modification of child support every three years or if circumstances have changed significantly. The Division of Child Support Services enforces child support orders in New Hampshire.
In making a child custody or visitation order, New Hampshire courts are guided by the best interests of the child. The court may award custody to one or both parents, and does not consider the parents' or the child's sex when making its decision. The judge's goal is to provide the child with stability and frequent contact with both parents; thus the judge will review the child's relationship with each parent, each parent's ability to provide for the child's emotional, physical, and developmental needs, and the child's adjustment to school and community during and after the divorce. A custody order can be changed if both parents agree, if one parent repeatedly interferes with the primary custodial parent, or if the court finds evidence that a change in custody is in the child's best interest.
(See Child Custody in New Hampshire: The Best Interests of the Child for more in-depth information).