Frequently Asked Questions

How does the process of divorce work in New Hampshire?

Generally, a New Hampshire divorce is broken down into three parts. The first part requires a determination of what constitutes the marital estate, both assets and liabilities. In New Hampshire, the definition of marital property is broadly defined and includes most assets and liabilities of either party, whether in that party's individual name, joint names with the other spouse, or with another person. The major issues that may arise in this first part of a divorce include a full disclosure of all of the assets and liabilities and the values of the assets and liabilities. Parties may need the assistance of appraisers or other individuals to assist them in determining the values of their assets. The date to value an asset is another issue that may be discussed and may need to be determined in this first part. In the second part, the marital estate will need to be divided. In New Hampshire, the marital estate may be divided equitably. The Court shall presume that an equal division is an equitable division. Under New Hampshire law, there are numerous factors a party can present as a basis for an unequal division of the marital estate. The application of those factors varies from case to case, and you should seek legal advice regarding whether any of the factors exist in your case and how those factors may be applied in your case. The third part of a divorce is broken down into three sections: Parenting; Child Support and Alimony; and Insurance. Parties with children under the age of eighteen and who have not graduated from high school will need to develop a Parenting Plan for their children. Issues of child support, alimony, and health and life insurance may also need to be addressed.

Read NH RSA 458:16-a


Is alimony allowed in New Hampshire?

Yes. New Hampshire RSA 458:19 provides alimony in certain cases. The amount and duration of alimony is based on upon many factors, including the need of a party and the ability of the other party to pay alimony taking into consideration the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage. Other factors that may affect the award of alimony include the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, the education of the parties, a party's ability to acquire future income after the divorce, and any fault grounds that may exist. In order to assist the parties with an alimony claim, parties will complete a financial affidavit and a monthly expense worksheet. The monthly expense worksheet will outline the expenses of each party and will assist a party in determining his or her reasonable need after the divorce, as well as his or her ability to pay alimony. Alimony is a discretionary finding by a Court, which means that there may be wide variations in alimony orders from case to case and from Court to Court. As there is not a specific mathematical formula for the determination of alimony, you are encouraged to seek legal advice to explore how alimony may be determined in your particular case.

Alimony is modifiable and may be reviewed in the future under certain circumstances. How and when alimony may be reviewed, as well as the standard the Court will use in such a review, depends upon various factors that you should discuss with a lawyer in advance of filing a petition to change alimony.

Read NH RSA 458:19


How is child support calculated in New Hampshire?

Child support in New Hampshire is based upon a specific formula and is calculated through a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. Generally, child support is based upon the gross income of each party after certain permissible deductions are made. Child support continues until a child reaches the age of eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever is later. In order to calculate child support, each party will need to complete a financial affidavit under oath and provide a paystub or other income verification documents. A party will also need to provide the amount paid for the children's health insurance, daycare expenses, mandatory pension contributions, self-employment taxes, state income taxes and child support for children from another relationship or marriage. The amount of child support that is calculated through the NH Child Support Guidelines is presumed correct unless a party proves one or more various special circumstances for a deviation from the guideline amount. Examples of common special circumstances that may arise in cases include, but not are not limited to, ongoing extraordinary expenses for a child, significantly high or low income of either party, parenting schedule, and the payment of a child's variable expenses for school, day care, sports, and extra-curricular activities. You should seek legal advice to determine if any special circumstances exist in your case and how they may be applied to your case.

Child support is automatically reviewed every three years upon request from either party or sooner than three years upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstance.

Read NH RSA 458-C


What is a financial affidavit?

A financial affidavit is a comprehensive document that each party will be required to complete and to sign under oath in order to obtain a divorce from a New Hampshire Court. The financial affidavit requires each party to disclose background information; income verification; asset and liability values; health, dental, and life insurance information; and monthly expenses. The completion of the financial affidavit should be taken seriously because the affidavit wiil be relied upon by your lawyer, the other party and the Court throughout the divorce process. Jim and his staff will assist you with a thorough and accurate completion of a financial affidavit.

Obtain the Financial Affidavit form from State of NH judicial branch.


How will my recent inheritance affect my divorce?

All property/assets that you acquire during the marriage through inheritance or otherwise may be considered marital property subject to division by a Court. There are many factors that a Court may consider in dividing such assets like an inheritance. You are encouraged to seek legal advice for more information regarding those factors and how an inheritance in your particular case may be treated and divided after the divorce.


How will my retirement accounts be divided after the divorce?

The division of your retirement accounts will depend upon the type of account that you have. Defined contribution plans, such as a 401(k) or IRA, may be divided based upon the value of such plan on the date of the plan's division. Defined benefit plans, such as a pension, may be divided based upon a formula that calculates the amount of the pension that accrued during the parties' marriage through the date of the filing of a divorce petition. A defined benefit plan may also be divided by obtaining a present value of the plan. In addition, the division of a retirement plan may require the completion of a separate legal document known as a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order in order to effectively divide the plan in compliance with plan regulations as well as state and federal law. When done correctly, a retirement plan may be divided between the parties after a divorce without a tax or penalty to either party. The division of retirement accounts and whether any tax or penalty will result from such a division requires detailed information about the plan that you may need to obtain from the plan administrator, accountant, or other retirement specialist.


What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?

A legal separation is obtained through a New Hampshire Family Court. Like a divorce, a legal separation is issued after a Court hears from the parties and determines the value of the marital estate, how to allocate the marital estate between the parties, and any parenting and support issues. At the end of the process, the party is granted a legal separation, which means that that party remains married and is unable to remarry unless the legal separation becomes a divorce.


Do I need to disclose financial records as part of my divorce case?

Yes. In January, 2012, our Court System passed Rule 1.25-A, which requires each party to disclose various financial information, including paystubs, tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, retirement statements, life insurance policies, and various other financial documents. For a full list of the mandatory disclosure, see Rule 1.25-A. My office will work with you to satisfy your disclosure requirement under Rule 1.25-A and to make a determination whether additional documents may need to be produced.


Do I need to take a parenting class?

Yes. New Hampshire Courts require that parents with children taken a Child Impact Seminar offered at various locations throughout the State. In limited situations, a party can waive attendance at this Seminar. Click here for instructions on how to enroll in a Child Impact Seminar class.


Should I file for divorce or try mediation first?

This answer depends upon the issues in your case. You should discuss the issues with an attorney to determine the best course of action for your particular needs. There is no right or wrong answer as to whether you should try mediation or file first, but there may be issues in your case to allow for a filing in the Court or to attend mediation. Jim will be able to provide you with a more specific answer depending upon the particulars of your case.


Do I need a lawyer with me at mediation?

It is not required to attend mediation with a lawyer. Jim provides mediation services to parties who have retained a lawyer or to parties who have not retained a lawyer. In any situation, however, it is strongly encouraged and recommended that each party seek separate legal advice either before, during, or after mediation in order to determine whether the agreements reached during mediation are in your best interests. The mediator will not be able to provide legal advice to you during the process, and it is recommended that you speak with a lawyer to advise you on your rights and obligations under New Hampshire law.


How long does it take to resolve a case through mediation?

The answer depends upon the complexity of the issues involved in your case and how quickly the parties are able to reach agreements. There is not a specific number of hours or mediation sessions for a case. Some cases end in one or two mediation sessions of two-to-three hours each, while others take multiple sessions over the course of several months.


How long will it take my divorce to be processed through the Court?

The length of time your case takes to process through the Court depends largely on the Court system and the complexity of the issues associated with your case. Presently, the Court docket is quite full. Your case may take between eight and twenty four months to complete through the Court system. The amount of time that your case will take will be better determind after meeting with Jim to understand the issues in your case.


Will I be able to remain on my spouse's health insurance plan after the divorce?

The answer depends upon the type of health insurance plan that covers you and your family. New Hampshire RSA 415:18, VII allows ex-spouses to remain covered under the plan without triggering a COBRA premium for up to three years. There may be other conditions that limit this three-year period. If the health insurance plan is self-funded, New Hampshire RSA 415:18, VII does not apply, and a spouse would be able to obtain continued benefits under COBRA at a premium. The COBRA period extends thirty-six months after the effective date of the divorce. It is recommended that you speak with your spouse or your spouse's insurance plan administrator, as well as your lawyer, to determine your rights and obligations under the plan after the divorce.


Can I file for fault grounds against my spouse?

Yes. New Hampshire recognizes certain fault grounds as a basis for divorce. You will have to prove various parts of a fault case, and it is recommended that you speak to an attorney about the type of fault ground you believe exists to determine whether you will meet the necessary burden in Court.


Can the Court order the payment of college tuition?  

The Court cannot issue an order regarding the payment of college tuition absent a mutual agreement between the parties. Section 4 of the Final Decree of Divorce allows parties the opportunity to reach agreements on the method and allocation of payment for college tuition. If the parties reach such an agreement, they are required to indicate whether the terms in this section are modifiable or not modifiable in the future. Upon the parties' mutual agreement of the payment terms, the Court will approve the terms as part of the Final Decree of Divorce and will have the authority to enforce the agreement in the event one party fails to follow the terms. If the parties do not reach mutual agreements on the payment of college, paragraph 4 of the Final Decree of Divorce will not be completed and the Court cannot enter an order on this issue.