Child support is one of the key issues requiring your attention if you’re getting a divorce and have minor children. Providing support is critical to maintaining a sense of normalcy during the stress that accompanies many divorces.
In New Hampshire, there are several essential things to know that will help guide you in this process.
- Who Must Pay Child Support in New Hampshire
- How is Child Support Determined in New Hampshire?
- What is the Purpose of Child Support?
- Which Agency Handles Child Support Matters in New Hampshire?
- How Do I Ask for Child Support?
- Does Alimony Affect Child Support?
- Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
- Verifying Fatherhood
- Consequences of Not Paying Child Support
- Modifying Child Support Payments
- Child Support and Taxes
- When Does Child Support End in New Hampshire?
Who Must Pay Child Support in New Hampshire?
Both parents must financially support their children, even if:
- the parent and child live in different households
- the parents were not married to each other when the child was born
- either parent remarries
- the parent who provides the child’s primary residence is employed or receives public assistance
- the parent who provides the child’s primary residence refuses to allow visitation
- the parent who does not provide the child’s primary residence and lives or works in another state.
How is Child Support Determined in New Hampshire?
The Bureau of Child Support Services (BCSS) uses guidelines and a calculator to determine child support obligations. You can view the New Hampshire 2022 Child Support Guidelines and the online Child Support Calculator to help answer many of your questions. These obligation amounts are adjusted annually to accommodate changes in federal tax standards, the federal poverty standard of need, and the Federal Poverty Guidelines Table.
The BCSS online Calculator permits entry of combined monthly gross income amounts to $226,009, and the amount of support is based upon the combined income of both parents.
You can also use a New Hampshire Child Support Guidelines worksheet published by the State to assist you in determining parental obligations.
Although child support and visitation issues are separate, it should be noted that the custodial parent must obey the court order for visitation, even if the noncustodial parent cannot or will not pay child support. The court can enforce any of its orders against either parent.
The Court uses a predetermined formula to calculate the amount of child support paid from one parent to the other. These Child Support Guidelines are applied at all stages regardless of whether the case is at the temporary hearing stage, final hearing, or a modification of a prior order.
In high-level terms, the parties’ net income is multiplied by the percentage corresponding to the number of children to determine support. The percentages are based on a sliding scale as follows:
There is also a detailed list of what types of income are included and what items are deductible to arrive at the parties’ net income.
One other thing to note is that if an ex-spouse remarries, the new spouse’s income is not includable for child support unless the obligor parent is voluntarily underemployed.
What is the Purpose of Child Support?
Child support is the ongoing monetary expenditures and payments to cover a child’s living and medical expenses. It is a recurring payment by a parent for a minor child when that parent does not have full custody. In some cases, support may be extended indefinitely, such as when a child has ongoing health or medical needs.
The goal is to protect the child’s welfare with an agreement fair to both parents. This agreement can be reached by the parents or determined by the courts.
Which Agency Handles Child Support Matters in New Hampshire?
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of the citizens of New Hampshire. It provides services for individuals, children, families, and seniors and administers programs and services such as mental health, developmental disability, substance misuse, and public health. The Bureau of Child Support Services (BCSS) is a division of DHHS and has direct oversight of child support.
The division’s contact information is:
Bureau of Child Support Services, Department of Health & Human Services
129 Pleasant Street, Concord, New Hampshire 03301-8711
Office: (800) 852-3345 (In-State only)
Office: (603) 271-4427
Fax: (603) 271-4787
There are also several district offices you can contact:
If you have a child support case and the supporting parent lives outside of New Hampshire, but the receiving party lives in State, your case will be handled by the New Hampshire Interstate Unit. This centralized office initiates actions with another state. It will assist with requesting the establishment of paternity and ongoing medical support, enforcing existing orders for support, and redirecting child support payments to New Hampshire.
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
Typically, you will follow these steps when requesting child support in New Hampshire:
Start by filing a Petition for Parental Rights and Responsibilities or include the request in a Petition for Divorce. You must file the petition with the Superior Court or Family Division in the county where either parent or the child lives. If you are unsure where to file, check the court’s website that lists courts by county and town, or call the Court at (603) 271-6418.
The petition tells the court the facts of your case, begins the case against the other party and asks for court orders, including child support. The petition will include:
- The names and addresses of both parents
- The names and ages of the children
- That the paternity of the children is established
- Whether or not the State has provided or is providing aid for the support of the children
- That support for the children is requested
After filing the petition, the court returns two copies to you with “Orders of Notice.” The Orders of Notice are court orders and directions that apply to you and apply to the other party once they receive them.
Have the Sheriff serve a copy of the papers (for a fee) on the other parent. You must make a copy for yourself before sending them to the Sheriff. Send both copies of the documents to the Sheriff in the county where the other parent lives with a letter requesting service at the other parent’s home. After the Sheriff serves the documents, the Sheriff will return one copy to you with a “Return of Service” indicating that service was accomplished. You must file the Return of Service with the court.
When one parent requests an order for child support, both parents must file the following forms that are available from the Superior Court and Family Division Clerk’s Offices.
Financial Affidavit. This form requires the disclosure of information concerning your income and expenses.
Child Support Worksheet. Use this form to calculate child support with income information from the financial affidavits.
Uniform Support Order. This becomes part of the court’s order and addresses support payments, public assistance, medical insurance, and health care expenses. It also requires both parties to inform the court of address, income, or employment changes.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Child Support
Does Alimony Affect Child Support?
The short answer is yes, but several factors are taken into account. The court will look at whether alimony has been ordered, what other benefits the ex-spouse receives, the length of the marriage, and several other things that will impact the child support formula.
Initially, there still must be a finding that one party has a need and that the other party can pay. Once a finding has been made, the Court can plug in the relevant criteria and apply the child support formula.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Alimony
Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
A parent may be required to provide medical support for their children and may be required to obtain health insurance coverage if it is available at a reasonable cost, such as through an employer’s group health insurance policy or another group plan.
The custodial parent can petition the court for medical support if it is not voluntarily offered.
When the noncustodial parent provides medical insurance coverage, they receive a partial credit that will reduce the child support order in most cases.
Paternity must be established before a father can be required to pay child support in New Hampshire. If this is a disputed element of support, the mother can file a paternity action with the court up to the child’s 18th birthday. It’s best to contact BCSS to help work through the process of establishing paternity.
Consequences of Not Paying Child Support
Child support orders entered on or after January 1, 1994, are subject to immediate income assignment. Income can be withheld directly from a non-paying parent’s paycheck. This is handled through BCSS. To seek enforcement, a parent must file for services with the division and provide a copy of the child support order before acting on the income assignment request.
You can also file a Motion for Contempt. If the non-paying parent is in contempt, in addition to income assignment, the court may enforce the following actions:
- Order property to be sold
- Order the non-paying parent to be jailed until support is paid
- Order the non-paying parent to pay your costs and attorney’s fees
- Intercept the absent parent’s tax refund
- Report delinquent payors to credit bureaus
- Driver’s, recreational, and professional license revocation
- Preventing the issuance of passports
- Place liens on assets
- Garnish bank accounts or investments
- Taking lottery winnings
- Take other legal steps as required to enforce child support orders.
According to New Hampshire laws, support payments become judgments when due and payable by operation of law. Once a debt is a judgment, the New Hampshire statute of limitations to enforce a child support order is 20 years.
Modifying Child Support Payments
Either party may request a modification to a child support order every three years, or anytime there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
A judge will review the following factors to determine if an adjustment of the amount of child support is warranted:
- ongoing extraordinary medical, dental, or education expenses
- significantly high or low income of the parents
- the economic consequences of stepparents or other children
- the paying parent’s reasonable parenting expenses
- the economic consequences of disposition of the marital home for the child’s benefit
- parenting schedule
- post-secondary educational expenses, and
- other special circumstances, considering all relevant factors
You can find instructions for filing a Support Order Modification here.
You also have the right to challenge a current child support order. After filing the necessary papers with the court, your case will be scheduled for a contested hearing.
You will need to present evidence of each parent’s monthly income and living expenses (pay stubs, receipts for extraordinary expenses, etc.); the total number of dependents; medical insurance; and anything else that will help the judge determine how much child support to order. After reviewing the evidence, the judge will issue an order determining the child support amount, including medical coverage.
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.
However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.
Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. Parents usually alternate years claiming the child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar statement.
When Does Child Support End in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire child support is payable until:
- The dependent turns 18 or is out of high school, whichever occurs later
- Gets married
- Becomes a member of the armed services
- They are declared legally dependent beyond 18 due to mental or physical disability
- The court has otherwise ordered support to continue beyond age 18.
Child Support orders issued in another state may be payable longer. To see if this is the case, check the Federal Office of Child Support’s Intergovernmental Website for other State regulations for the age of majority.