A Guide to Alimony in New Hampshire

Learn about alimony laws in New Hampshire and what a court considers when determining spousal support awards.

New Hampshire Alimony

In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about alimony in New Hampshire if you’re going through a divorce.

Who is Entitled to Alimony in New Hampshire?

The terms alimony and spousal support are interchangeable and may be awarded in New Hampshire if one spouse needs financial support, and the other spouse has the ability to pay support.

The purpose of alimony is to allow both parties to maintain a reasonable standard of living during and after a divorce.

Types of Alimony in New Hampshire

Alimony awards are gender-neutral and may be awarded to a husband or a wife. Alimony can be awarded in a lump sum, through periodic payments, or a combination of both.  Periodic payments are the most common form of award.

Courts can award alimony in a couple of different ways.

While a divorce is in progress, a judge can award temporary alimony to assist a spouse until the divorce is finalized.  That is often known as pendente lite alimony.  This award may be replaced, or no award will be granted when temporary support ends.

The most common of these is rehabilitative alimony. This is alimony paid for a limited period to allow the other spouse sufficient time to become self-supporting.

The goal is to give the spouse enough time to get training or education that will lead to a better job and establish the spouse with an independent source of income.

Rehabilitative alimony may not be appropriate in some cases due to a spouse’s age, health, or other limitations.  In these situations, the court may consider awarding permanent alimony.

Permanent alimony awards are open-ended and generally continue until the receiving spouse passes away, remarries, or cohabitates.

Reimbursement alimony can be awarded to compensate a spouse for their economic or non-economic contribution to the payor’s financial resources.  For example, a spouse may have stayed home and taken care of children while the other spouse pursued an advanced degree to create better job opportunities.

What Factors Are Used to Determine Alimony?

Under New Hampshire law, a person can request to receive alimony payments if they file a motion within five years of the final decree.

The court will approve an alimony motion if they find the party requesting alimony payments lacks income, property, or both and requests alimony to provide for their reasonable needs to assist them in maintaining the style of living they enjoyed during their marriage.

If the court determines a motion for alimony is valid, they can set orders for calculating alimony that would be just and equitable using several factors.  According to New Hampshire law, the court will consider the following:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Age and health
  • Social or economic status
  • The occupation, amount, and sources of income
  • The marital assets awarded as part of the divorce case
  • Vocational skills and employability
  • Liabilities and needs of each of the parties
  • Each party’s contribution to their house, including the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of the home and the non-economic contributions that each provided
  • The opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income
  • The fault of either party as defined by New Hampshire law
  • The federal tax consequences of the order

A family law judge will not consider a minor child’s social security benefit payments or the income of a second or subsequent spouse. If either party marries a spouse with a significant income, it will not be used in determining how much alimony they should pay to the other party.

The court may factor in things like adultery, abandonment, impotence, extreme cruelty, felony conviction, abuse, or habitual drunkenness, which are the fault grounds for divorce in New Hampshire.

If the court chooses not to grant alimony or the court denies the motion, a judge will specify the reasons for their decision with a written response.

Does cohabitation impact alimony?

This situation may terminate or modify alimony if the court finds that cohabitation exists between two unrelated adults in a relationship resembling marriage.  Specific factors used to make this judgment include:

  • Living together continually in a primary residence
  • Sharing expenses
  • The economic interdependence of dependence on each other
  • Joint ownership of real or personal property
  • The existence of an intimate relationship
  • Whether the couple holds themselves out to be a couple
  • Any other material factors.

Reinstatement of alimony may occur if the original alimony award terminated due to the cohabitation or remarriage of one spouse, and the cohabitation or second marriage ended in divorce. The payee spouse may move for reinstatement of the original order, as long as there are still payments of alimony left under the original alimony term.

How does child support impact alimony?

A party’s gross income is reduced by the amount of child support or alimony paid for a prior family, child support paid for kids of the present family, and costs for health insurance for the benefit of the other party.

How Long Does Alimony Last in New Hampshire?

The maximum duration is 50% of the length of the marriage unless the parties agree otherwise.

A family law judge may also determine it is appropriate to adjust the duration based on:

  • A spouse’s health
  • The degree and duration of any financial dependency of one party on the other.
  • Vocational skills, occupation, benefits available from appropriate employment, and the present and future employability.
  • Voluntary unemployment or underemployment of either party
  • The special needs of a minor or adult child of the parties
  • Property awarded to the payee
  • The conduct of either party during the marriage, including abuse or fault
  • Differences in the parties’ benefits under the federal old age, survivors and disability insurance social security program
  • Dissipation of significant assets by a party

Read More:  Divorce Laws in New Hampshire

Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support in New Hampshire

Most alimony awards will specify how long alimony is to be paid.  However, the court may award alimony for a definite or indefinite period.

Alimony does not terminate automatically when a recipient remarries or cohabitates but the court may impose termination based on those events.

An alimony award does terminate on the death of the recipient spouse.  The alimony order may also provide that alimony terminates upon retirement, receipt of inheritance or trust assets, or the recipient achieving a certain income level.  If the payor dies, alimony is charged against the payor’s estate if the payor dies except when the obligation is covered by life insurance or other security.

By law, alimony terminates at full retirement age unless parties agree otherwise or the court finds that justice requires a different termination date based on special circumstances.

Modification requests can be made while alimony is being paid or within five years from the end of the initial alimony order. The requesting party must satisfy a three-part test by clear and convincing evidence. The test requires a substantial and unforeseeable change of circumstance since the effective date of the alimony order; no undue hardship on either party; and justice requires a change in amount or duration.

Income from a second job or overtime is excluded when considering a modification request if it began after the date of the initial alimony order.

Read More:  What is Collaborative Divorce, and is it right for you?

Enforcing New Hampshire Support Awards

If you aren’t receiving your alimony payments, you can ask the judge for help enforcing the order against the former spouse by filing a request with the court.

Unpaid support is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected by mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment.

Failure to comply with an alimony order can result in a contempt of court charge, which can lead to fines, reimbursing attorney fees, and in some cases, jail time.  Courts may also impose other enforcement measures, including liens against property or bank accounts and restrictions on professional or driver’s licenses.

Spousal Support and Taxes

Due to recent changes in Federal laws, the payer cannot deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments under a divorce or separation instrument executed after 2018. These payments are also not included as taxable income for recipients.

The same is true of alimony paid under a divorce or separation instrument executed before 2019 and modified after 2018 if the modification expressly states that the alimony isn’t deductible to the payor spouse or included in the income of the recipient spouse.

Taxpayers paying alimony under a divorce agreement executed before 2019 can deduct those payments from taxes when the following criteria are met:

  • The recipient must be a spouse or former spouse
  • There must be a written divorce or separation instrument
  • A spouse must pay alimony with cash payments (such as checks and money orders)
  • Maintenance does not continue after the recipient dies
  • The parties must live apart, residing in different households
  • The parties must file separate tax returns (they cannot file a joint return and claim the alimony deduction)
  • The court-ordered payment of alimony cannot state that payments are not deductible

Read More: How to Split an IRA in Divorce

New Hampshire Alimony FAQs

Is marital fault considered in New Hampshire alimony?

New Hampshire considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that “at-fault” divorces, which may be caused by infidelity, abuse, abandonment and other similar scenarios, can result in the at-fault party paying more punitive alimony.

Is child custody status considered when determining alimony in New Hampshire?

Yes.  A judge will factor in which parent has primary custody and how much a parent pays for child support and related costs.

If the receiving spouse has custody of the children, they may be entitled to higher alimony payments.

Can alimony be waived in a prenuptial agreement?

Courts will recognize and honor prenuptial agreements as legal and binding documents.  Alimony is often waived in prenuptial agreements, and unless there is a compelling reason, courts will honor that agreement.

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