If you’re contemplating divorce in New Hampshire, you need to make sure you understand your legal rights and responsibilities so that you can save, time, money and aggravation.
Although every divorce is a bit different, the processes and systems that are in place apply to most all cases in the state.
Here are the important things you should know before you file.
- What Information Should You Gather and Prepare for Divorce in New Hampshire?
- How Do You Determine Which Divorce Procedure to Use in New Hampshire?
- What are the Necessary Forms to Prepare?
- How Do You File Your Forms for a Divorce in New Hampshire?
- How do you Serve Your Forms on your Spouse in a New Hampshire Divorce?
- Once you Have Filed for Divorce, What are the Steps for Getting a Divorce in New Hampshire?
- More FAQs
What Information Should You Gather and Prepare for Divorce in New Hampshire?
The best way to get through a divorce is to prepare as thoroughly as possible. In New Hampshire, that starts with gathering a variety of documents and information you’ll need along the way.
Start as early as possible and stay organized. You’ll not only help yourself, but you’ll also help your attorney while saving time and money in the process.
Before you actually file for divorce, it’s wise to gather all the information you’ll need as you work through your case.
Additional Reading: Ultimate Divorce Checklist.
How Do You Determine Which Divorce Procedure to Use in New Hampshire?
As you gather your information, you’ll need to start deciding how you’re going to move forward. The type of divorce process you choose will heavily influence all of your other actions in your divorce.
Your relationship with your spouse and whether or not you can agree on all the issues is one of the primary factors for seeking a contested or uncontested divorce. You’ll also have to decide if you want to go through the process on your own, through mediation, arbitration, full-blown litigation or other possible ways to proceed.
To help you fully understand what your options are, take a look at our article What Are the Different Types of Divorce? before you make any kind of decision.
What are the Necessary Forms to Prepare for a New Hampshire Divorce?
After deciding what type of divorce to pursue, you’ll need to start your case by completing forms and submitting them to the court.
You can choose to file a joint petition or an individual petition. Both will start the divorce process. A joint petition is sometimes filed for uncontested divorces.
Once you decide on how you’ll proceed with your divorce, you’ll need to prepare and either mail or file forms at the local courthouse. A petitioner can file in the county where he or she lives or in the county where the respondent lives.
To start your case, you’ll need to file one of the following, plus a Personal Data Sheet.
- Joint Petition for Divorce (NHJB-2058-F)
- Individual Petition for Divorce (NHJB-2057-F)
- Joint Petition for Legal Separation (NHJB-2060-F)
- Individual Petition for Legal Separation (NHJB-2059-F)
You will need to pay a filing fee of either $250 (no children) or $252 (with children) which is waived in some cases.
How Do You File Your Forms for a Divorce in New Hampshire?
Once your forms are complete, you can either mail your forms to the courthouse or deliver them in person.
After you file, you will receive paperwork back in the mail, along with Orders of Service that will contain instructions on how to serve your spouse.
How do you Serve Your Forms on your Spouse in a New Hampshire Divorce?
In New Hampshire, after your forms have been filed with the court, the process must be completed by notifying your spouse.
When you file your individual petition, the court will mail your spouse a letter stating that the divorce has been filed. Your spouse can visit the court and get a copy of the papers.
If your spouse does not come to the court, you will need to serve paperwork on your spouse. You can do this by mail if you want. When you mail the papers, make sure to get a return receipt that verifies your spouse has signed for them. You will file this receipt with the county clerk.
You can also hire the sheriff to deliver paperwork for a small fee. If you hire the sheriff, you will be notified the papers have been delivered by receipt of a proof of service statement. You will file this statement with the court to complete the filling process.
Once you Have Filed for Divorce, What are the Steps for Getting a Divorce in New Hampshire?
Many divorces in New Hampshire follow the same general steps.
When you file, you’ll need to notify your spouse of your intention to divorce through what is known as proof of service. Your spouse must be given court documents and then be given a window of time to respond to the complaint.
After service is completed, there is also a Mandatory Initial Self Disclosure period of not more than 45 days where you must exchange information with the other party, generally having to do with finances. This helps facilitate an equitable distribution of assets, alimony and child support.
After your case is filed, you’ll be given instructions on when and where your First Appearance court date will be. If your case is uncontested, the process is fairly quick and simple.
If there is a high level of animosity, you may have to litigate your case, either through arbitration or by going to trial. Instead of reaching decisions on your own, a judge will make decisions for you.
Once all decisions have been made, a final decree will be issued and your case will be complete.
More New Hampshire Divorce FAQs
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in New Hampshire?
If you have no children, the fee to file for a divorce in New Hampshire is $250. With children, the fee is $252.
Can divorce fees be waived in New Hampshire?
Possibly. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee you can request the fees to be waived by filing a Motion to Waive Filing and Service fees. A judge will review your request and let you know if you qualify.
Can I file for divorce online in New Hampshire?
No. But you can work with an online service or a private attorney to prepare your paperwork either online or through emails. When it comes time to file, you’ll need to do that in person.
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Can I file for divorce without a lawyer?
Yes. You are never required to hire an attorney to represent you. If you and your spouse can reach agreement on everything in advance and file an uncontested divorce, you can probably handle things yourself. However, if you have unresolved issues, strongly consider hiring an attorney to protect your interests.
What are the residency requirements for getting a divorce in New Hampshire?
You or your spouse must have lived in New Hampshire for at least one year prior to filing for a divorce.
How long does it take to get a divorce in New Hampshire? What is the timeline?
After you meet the residency requirement and file your paperwork, it may take several weeks before the court can review your initial paperwork, depending on the current backlog of cases. After the court reviews your paperwork, you will be given instructions on how to serve your spouse.
Your spouse will be allowed to file an Answer with the court if they choose.
If you have unresolved issues, a divorce can take much longer than with an uncontested divorce. Mediation or a Collaborative divorce can last six months or longer.
Read More: How Long Does Divorce Take?
Can I file for divorce in New Hampshire while I am pregnant?
You can file for divorce at any time, but until the baby is born, you may have trouble establishing appropriate paternity. You’ll need to know this for child support and visitation issues to be resolved correctly.
In New Hampshire, the court automatically assumes a child is the product of a marriage. This can be rebutted through a paternity test. If there are questions as to who the father is, genetic testing may be required.
If a spouse is in the military, how does that affect filing for divorce?
To file for divorce when one spouse is in the military, either the spouse or the active-duty servicemember must live in or be stationed in New Hampshire
The grounds for a military divorce in the state are the same as they are for a civilian divorce.
Several laws are the same for both civilian and military divorces. But there are some notable differences through protections offered under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. For example, a divorce can be postponed until up to 60 days following active duty.
Child custody and visitation issues can be more complicated due to relocation or deployment orders.
Military servicemembers are also afforded protections under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) of 1982. This act pertains to how assets and pensions are treated and calculated in a divorce.
Under USFSPA, the court cannot divide and distribute any of the military members’ retirement to the spouse unless they have been married 10 years or longer while the member has been active duty military.
In New Hampshire, combined spousal support and child support can’t exceed 60% of a service member’s pay and allowances. Otherwise, normal rules and regulations regarding these financial issues are dictated by state laws.
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