Uncontested Divorce in New Hampshire
Generally, there are two ways to dissolve a marriage: contested and uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce means that either party disputes the divorce or some or all of its aspects, including property division, spousal support, child custody, child support, etc. Thus, the spouses rely on the court to determine the outcome of their divorce case.
- In contrast, in an uncontested dissolution of marriage, the parties negotiate property division, alimony, child-related issues, and other terms of their divorce out of court. Instead of litigation, the spouses can draft a Marital Settlement Agreement covering such matters and submit it for court approval.
Along with that, the New Hampshire divorce laws allow the spouses to file for divorce as co-petitioners. If you and your spouse agree to end the marriage, you can file a Joint Petition for Divorce and avoid the cost of service of the divorce papers, even if you do not have a Settlement Agreement yet.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
New Hampshire Family Law allows the parties to initiate the case as co-petitioners and make their divorce more affordable and quick. Still, paperwork can be complicated, even for a simple uncontested divorce.
Although you may download blank forms from the New Hampshire Judicial Branch government website, these documents can be insufficient in a particular case. Besides, each county or even local court can require some unique legal forms.
DivorceOnline.com was designed as a simple solution to divorce paperwork hassles, available for all couples seeking an uncontested divorce.
This online divorce service helps its users select and fill out all the relevant New Hampshire divorce papers required in their circumstances for just $139.
You can provide your case details via our online interview at your own pace. Just two business days after answering all the questions, you'll obtain your completed divorce forms. Print them, sign them, and file them with the court.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in New Hampshire
The New Hampshire divorce process involves several consecutive steps.
For New Hampshire courts to have jurisdiction over the divorce case, the spouses must meet one of the following New Hampshire residency requirements:
- Both spouses reside in New Hampshire when filing the divorce petition
- The plaintiff (spouse initiating the case) has lived within the state for at least one year
- The plaintiff currently lives in New Hampshire, and the other spouse (the defendant) can be served with divorce documents within the state
New Hampshire recognizes both fault and no-fault divorce. "Fault" means that the court can grant a final decree of divorce in favor of either party if they prove the other spouse's misconduct before the court. New Hampshire fault-based grounds for divorce include:
- Extreme cruelty
- Conviction and imprisonment of either party for more than one year
- Abuse and endangerment
- Willful abandonment for two years
- Habitual drunkenness for two years
- Either party has joined a religious sect or society which professes to believe the relation of the husband and wife is unlawful and has refused to cohabit with their spouse for six months
In contrast, no-fault divorce does not require showing wrongdoing by either spouse. The only no-fault ground for divorce established by the New Hampshire Revised Statutes is "irreconcilable differences," meaning that a divorce can be granted if the spouses claim that their marriage is broken, and there is no chance for reconciliation.
To apply for divorce in New Hampshire, the plaintiff must file an individual petition or joint petition for divorce with the Circuit Court Family Division in the county where either spouse resides.
Divorce papers in New Hampshire
Initial New Hampshire divorce forms include:
- Petition for Divorce (NHJB-2057-F)
- Joint Petition for Divorce (NHJB-2058-F)
- Personal Data Sheet (NHJB-207
The other divorce papers and documents required at further stages of the divorce process may vary depending on the county and each couple's unique circumstances, for example, if they have minor children, if either party is in the US military service, etc.
To avoid paperwork hassles, you can take advantage of DivorceOnline.com and get your unique, completed divorce papers in only two business days.
The plaintiff must pay a court filing fee to start a dissolution case. The standard fee is $250 in New Hampshire. However, it can vary slightly depending on whether the spouses have natural or adopted children or pay a service of process fee.
If the plaintiff cannot afford the court costs due to financial hardship, they can ask the judge to waive the fee by filing a Motion to Waive Filing Fee.
The New Hampshire divorce procedure does not require any mandatory waiting period between the date the divorce petition is filed and the date the final decree can be entered. Thus, once all the necessary NH divorce forms are filed, the court will handle the case according to its workload.
The plaintiff must serve divorce papers on the defendant to notify them about divorce. This step is called service of process, and it is mandatory for all plaintiffs filing an individual petition.
Typically, the court clerk mails the defendant a letter stating that the petition has been filed, and the defendant has ten days to go to the court and obtain their copy of the Petition for Divorce.
Since New Hampshire does not require a mandatory waiting period before a final judgment of divorce can be entered, the court can schedule the hearing date without delays. Moreover, the divorce decree can be issued without a hearing if both spouses concur and have an agreement in place on the final terms of the divorce (uncontested divorce process).
However, all couples have to file some additional New Hampshire divorce forms to finalize their divorce. These documents include Financial Affidavit, Vital Statistics Form, and Final Decree on Divorce.
Getting a Divorce With Children
In any New Hampshire divorce with children, the court or the spouses themselves (by creating a Parenting Plan) must decide child custody, parenting time, and child support. Generally, there are two types of custody, called "parental rights and responsibilities" in New Hampshire:
- Physical custody or "residential responsibility" determines the child's residence and each parent's time with the child.
- Legal custody or "decision-making responsibility" refers to the parent's authority concerning important decisions about the child's upbringing.
New Hampshire courts encourage divorcing parents to share parental rights and responsibilities unless the child’s safety is at risk. However, even if either parent is granted sole physical custody, no one can prevent the child's contact with the other parent. The non-custodial parent is usually awarded visitation rights and can participate whenever possible in the child's life.
New Hampshire Family Law does not provide strict rules about how the parents' particular legal rights and responsibilities must be allocated. Therefore, child custody issues are decided on a case-by-case basis after considering the following factors:
- the child's relationship with each parent;
- each parent's wishes;
- the child's preferences, given that the child is mature enough to make such claims;
- the child's adjustment to their home, school, and community;
- each parent's willingness and ability to recognize and meet the child's basic needs, including safety, food, shelter, care, education, etc.;
- each parent's willingness and ability to encourage the child's contact with the other parent;
- any history of domestic violence and abuse;
- and any other factors the court deems relevant.
As for child support, both parents are responsible for making a direct or indirect contribution to their children's welfare until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later.
New Hampshire Child Support Guidelines follow the percentage of income formula that considers the net income of the child support payor (usually, the non-custodial parent) and the number of children.
In addition, the following unique forms and documents are provided for divorcing parents to file:
- Parenting Plan (NHJB-2064-F)
- Uniform Support Order (NHJB-2066-FP)
- Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (NHJB-2101-FP)
- Agreement and Parenting Plan Order Designating School District (NHJB-2763-F)
- Certificate of completion of the Child Impact Seminar
Filing for Divorce in New Hampshire Without a Lawyer
Divorce in New Hampshire may be connected with significant legal fees. However, if you seek an uncontested divorce and do not need specific advice, you can arrange your own divorce without addressing a law firm and save money.
New Hampshire Superior Court recognizes DIY divorce (Pro Se divorce in legal terms), meaning that a person represents themselves in a lawsuit. At the same time, it doesn't mean that Pro Se litigants cannot get any assistance. For example, instead of hiring a full-scope divorce attorney, the spouses can use cheaper alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation to develop their Settlement Agreement.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in New Hampshire
The spouses arranging their own divorce without a lawyer can obtain the necessary court forms from the Judicial Branch website. However, spouses should still be well aware of the state laws and local county requirements to avoid mistakes in the paperwork.
For those who need some help with paperwork issues, DivorceOnline.com offers a fast and easy-to-use solution. Our online divorce service can help you select and complete all the required New Hampshire divorce papers online in only two business days. Besides, you will get comprehensive filing instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions:
New Hampshire does not require a mandatory waiting period, so the sooner the spouses come up with an Agreement, the shorter the divorce will take. It typically takes about 2 - 8 weeks to finalize an uncontested divorce once all the issues are resolved and the papers are filed with the court. On average, an uncontested divorce takes about 2 - 4 months from start to finish, while a contested divorce can take years to get through, depending on the circumstances of the case.
The average cost of divorce in New Hampshire is about $9,000, with lawyer fees making up the lion's share. Uncontested divorces are usually more affordable, as almost each law firm provides flat prices (fixed rates) per uncontested case, which is about $1,500-$2,000. To reduce the divorce expenses, you can prepare for filing for divorce online, without a lawyer, and get your ready-to-file divorce forms for just $139.
If the plaintiff cannot afford filing fees, they can ask the court to exempt them from payment by filing a Motion to Waive Filing Fee. The other divorce costs are hard to predict as they vary depending on each couple's unique circumstances.
New Hampshire divorce forms include but are not limited to Petition for Divorce, Joint Petition for Divorce, Personal Data Sheet, Financial Affidavit, Vital Statistics Form, Uniform Support Order, Uniform Alimony Order, Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, Final Decree on Divorce or Legal Separation.