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Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotionally charged process. If you’re considering getting divorced in New Hampshire, it’s important to understand the steps involved. While each situation is unique, there are general guidelines that must be followed when filing for divorce in New Hampshire.

The first step in getting divorced in New Hampshire is to fill out and file the appropriate paperwork. This typically includes a Petition for Divorce, which outlines the grounds for divorce and requests specific relief, such as child custody or spousal support. Once the paperwork is filed with the court, it must be served to the other spouse. Depending on the situation, this may be done by a process server or a sheriff. The other spouse will then have a set amount of time to respond.

Once the divorce paperwork has been filed and served, both parties will need to participate in a Discovery process. This involves gathering and exchanging information about all assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. It is important to accurately and thoroughly disclose all financial information, as this will be used to determine the division of assets and debts. After Discovery, a settlement negotiation may take place. If no settlement is reached, the case will proceed to trial. Ultimately, the judge will issue a final decree of divorce, which will legally dissolve the marriage.

Filing for Divorce in New Hampshire

If you are considering getting a divorce in New Hampshire, you will need to follow specific procedures to ensure that your divorce is valid and legal. Here are the steps you will need to take:

  1. Determine Eligibility: To file for divorce in New Hampshire, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least one year. Alternatively, either of you must be a resident of New Hampshire if the grounds for divorce occurred in the state.
  2. Gather Required Documents: You will need to gather certain paperwork before filing for divorce in New Hampshire. This will include your financial statements, marriage certificate, and any other relevant documents required by your specific circumstances.
  3. File Your Divorce Petition: You will need to submit a petition for divorce to your local family court. The court will also require a filing fee to begin the legal process.
  4. Serve Your Spouse: Once you file your petition for divorce, you must notify your spouse that you have initiated legal proceedings. This can be done by serving them a copy of the divorce petition. Generally, the court allows 120 days for your spouse to respond to your petition.
  5. Proceed to Court Hearing: If your spouse does not object to the divorce or cannot present a legal defense, the court will issue a default judgment and the divorce will be granted. However, if there are disputes or issues to resolve, the court may schedule a hearing to settle the case.
  6. Finalize Your Divorce: Once the court has approved your divorce, you will need to finalize the process. This will include dividing assets, debts, and, if applicable, determining child custody and support arrangements.

Filing for divorce in New Hampshire can be a complex and emotional process. However, by following these steps and working with an experienced attorney, you can ensure that your divorce is valid, legal, and fair.

Grounds for Divorce in New Hampshire

To file for divorce in New Hampshire, the plaintiff, or the person initiating the divorce, must have a reason known as “grounds” for seeking a divorce. New Hampshire recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. In this section, we’ll discuss the various grounds for divorce in New Hampshire.

No-Fault Grounds

In New Hampshire, a no-fault divorce occurs when neither spouse is responsible for causing the marriage to fail. The following grounds are typically considered as no-fault in New Hampshire:

  • Irreconcilable differences: This is the most common reason cited for divorce in the state. Irreconcilable differences refer to situations where spouses have grown apart and have no desire to reconcile.
  • Living apart for two years: If the spouses have been living apart for at least two years without cohabitation, either party can file for divorce on the grounds of living apart.

Fault Grounds

When one spouse is responsible for causing the marriage to fail, the other spouse may file for divorce on the basis of fault. The following are the fault grounds for divorce in New Hampshire:

  • Adultery: A spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery if the other spouse has been unfaithful.
  • Impotence: A spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of impotence if the other spouse is unable to have sexual intercourse.
  • Extreme cruelty: A spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty if the other spouse has been extremely cruel, mentally or physically.
  • Desertion: A spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of desertion if the other spouse has deserted or abandoned the marriage for at least two years.
  • Imprisonment: A spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of imprisonment if the other spouse has been imprisoned for at least 3 years.

It is important to note that fault grounds can be difficult to prove and are often contested. It is generally recommended that spouses seek legal counsel for guidance and representation during the divorce process.

Residency Requirements in New Hampshire

If you wish to file for divorce in New Hampshire, you will first need to meet the state’s residency requirements. Unlike some other states, New Hampshire’s residency requirements are quite simple.

In order to file for divorce in New Hampshire, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for a minimum of one year before filing. Additionally, if the grounds for divorce occurred within the state, such as adultery or extreme cruelty, then either spouse may file for divorce, regardless of residency.

It is important to note that proving residency is essential before you can file for divorce. Therefore, it is crucial to have some documentation that verifies your residency, such as a utility bill or voter registration card.

If you do not meet the residency requirements of the state at the time you file for divorce, the court may dismiss your case. This can lead to delays in finalizing your divorce, so it is vital that you properly establish your residency before filing.

To summarize, to file for divorce in New Hampshire, you need to meet the residency requirements, which involve residing in the state for at least one year before filing. Additionally, if the grounds for divorce occurred within the state, either spouse may file. It is essential to provide documentation that proves your residency before filing to avoid any potential delays or complications.

Completing A Divorce Petition

The next step in getting a divorce in New Hampshire is completing the divorce petition. This is a legal document that outlines the basic details of your marriage, the reasons for the divorce, and the terms that you and your spouse have agreed upon or would like the court to decide.

To complete the divorce petition, you will need to provide information about yourself and your spouse, including your names, addresses, dates of birth, and occupations. You will also need to provide details about your marriage, such as the date and place of your wedding and whether or not you have any children together.

In addition, you will need to state the grounds for the divorce. In New Hampshire, there are both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. Fault-based grounds include adultery, extreme cruelty, and abandonment, while no-fault grounds include irreconcilable differences and living apart for an extended period of time.

Once you have completed the divorce petition, you will need to sign it and file it with the court, along with any other required documents and the filing fee. You will then need to serve a copy of the petition on your spouse, which means providing them with a copy of the document in a manner specified by the court.

It’s important to note that the divorce petition is just one step in the divorce process, and there may be additional forms and procedures that you need to follow depending on your circumstances. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer can be helpful in ensuring that you complete all necessary steps correctly and efficiently.

Serving the Divorce Petition to Your Spouse

After filing the divorce petition, the next critical step in a divorce process is serving the papers to your spouse. This step may seem daunting, particularly if you and your spouse don’t communicate well, but it’s a crucial part of the legal process that must be followed.

Before we delve into the primary methods of serving divorce papers in New Hampshire, it’s important to note that the serving process is governed by the New Hampshire court rules. These rules must be adhered to strictly, or else the papers may not be legally valid.

Here are the different ways you can serve the divorce papers to your spouse in New Hampshire:

  1. Personal service: This is the most widely used method and involves hand-delivery of the petition and summons directly to your spouse by a person who is not related to the case. This person files a return of service document with the court, certifying that the papers were given to your spouse.
  2. Service by certified mail: You can also serve your spouse by mail. This process involves sending the divorce papers via certified mail with return receipt requested. You must provide an Acknowledgment of Service form, which your spouse must sign and return to the court.
  3. Substitute service: If your spouse is difficult to track down or evade service, you can ask the court to approve substitute service. This involves service by publication of the petition in a newspaper in the county where your spouse is believed to be living.

It’s essential to understand that proper service is crucial to protect your legal rights during the entire divorce process. Failure to follow the right procedure may lead to the dismissal of your case, which could result in further legal complications.

Additionally, the serving process begins the timeline for your spouse to file a response to the petition. After being served, your spouse has 30 days to answer the petition, and failure to do so may result in a default judgment.

Negotiating a Settlement Agreement

Once you and your spouse have both agreed to seek a divorce and have completed the initial steps such as filing a petition and serving the other party, the next step is to negotiate a settlement agreement. This is a crucial step in the process, as it will determine how property is divided, spousal support (if any) is paid, and custody (if applicable) is decided.

To start off, it is important to understand that there are two types of settlements: a voluntary settlement and a court-ordered settlement. A voluntary settlement means that you and your spouse have come to an agreement on your own, while a court-ordered settlement means that a judge has made the decision for you.

In order to negotiate a voluntary settlement, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with guidance and support as you navigate the divorce process, and can help you negotiate effectively with your spouse.

There are a few key factors to keep in mind when negotiating a settlement agreement. First, be prepared to compromise. You and your spouse may not agree on every issue, so it is important to be willing to make concessions in order to reach an agreement.

Another important factor is to be honest and open about your finances. This includes disclosing all income, assets, and debts. Failure to be forthcoming about your financial situation can result in serious legal repercussions, so it is imperative to be transparent.

In addition, it is important to prioritize your children’s needs when negotiating a custody agreement. This can involve developing a parenting plan that outlines each parent’s roles and responsibilities, as well as a visitation schedule that works for both parties.

Attending the Final Divorce Hearing

Attending the final divorce hearing is the last step in the New Hampshire divorce process. This hearing is usually scheduled at least 10 days after the initial hearing and gives both parties one last chance to present their case and make any final arguments. Here are some important things to know about attending the final divorce hearing:

  • Dress appropriately: This is a formal legal proceeding, and you should dress accordingly. Business attire is recommended, and you should avoid wearing anything too revealing or casual.
  • Arrive early: It’s important to arrive at the courthouse early so you have time to find parking and locate the courtroom where your hearing will take place. Being late can show disrespect to the court and cause unnecessary stress.
  • Bring all necessary documents: Make sure you have all the documents you need for the hearing, including copies of your divorce agreement and any relevant financial records.
  • Be prepared to answer questions: During the hearing, the judge may ask you questions about your divorce agreement, finances, and other details of your case. Make sure you are prepared to answer these questions honestly and accurately.
  • Stay respectful: Remain quiet and respectful in the courtroom, even if you disagree with something the other party or their attorney says. Outbursts or displays of anger can hurt your case and reflect poorly on you.
  • Follow instructions: The judge may give you specific instructions at the end of the hearing. Make sure you understand what is expected of you, and follow those instructions carefully.
  • Wait for the judge’s decision: After the hearing, the judge will make a decision regarding your divorce case. This decision will be final and legally binding, so it’s important to be patient and wait for the judge’s ruling.

Attending the final divorce hearing can be nerve-wracking, but being prepared and respectful can help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. By following these tips, you can make sure that your case is presented in the best possible light and that you receive a fair and just outcome.

Obtaining a Divorce Decree

Once all agreements have been made and settled upon, it’s time to obtain a court order. This court order, called a divorce decree, will legally end your marriage and determine the responsibilities and rights of each party. Let’s take a closer look at the process of obtaining a divorce decree in New Hampshire:

  1. File your divorce decree with the court: After all divorce paperwork, including settlements and agreements, have been drafted and signed, your lawyer – if you have one – will file the documents with the court.
  2. Serve your spouse: Your spouse must be served with a copy of the divorce paperwork, usually by a sheriff or a process server. Your spouse must then respond to the divorce filing within a certain period of time.
  3. Attend a hearing: If both parties can agree on all the terms of the divorce, no hearing may be necessary. However, if there are any disputes, a hearing may be required so that the judge can hear both sides of the case and make a ruling.
  4. Finalize the decree: Once the judge has issued the divorce decree, it must be signed and filed with the court clerk. The decree becomes effective 30 days after the filing date.

It’s important to note that a divorce decree is legally binding and can be enforced through the court system. Additionally, if there are any changes needed to the decree, it will require going back to court to modify the existing order.

In summary, obtaining a divorce decree in New Hampshire involves filing all necessary paperwork with the court, serving your spouse, attending a hearing if needed, and finalizing the decree by having it signed and filed with the court clerk. It’s a critical final step in the divorce process, so it’s important to ensure all agreements are settled before proceeding.

Child Custody and Support

When children are involved in a divorce, decisions about child custody and support need to be made. These decisions can be made through mediation, negotiation, or litigation. Mediation can be a less expensive and more cooperative way to approach the issue, but it does require both parents to be willing to communicate and collaborate.

If parents cannot agree on child custody and support arrangements, the court will intervene and make a decision that is in the best interests of the child. This decision will take into account the child’s needs, living arrangements, and each parent’s ability to care for the child.

New Hampshire follows the “best interests of the child” standard, meaning that the court will make decisions about child custody and support based on what is best for the child, not what is necessarily best for either parent.

In New Hampshire, child support is calculated based on both parents’ income and the number of children involved. The court will use the New Hampshire Child Support Guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid. These guidelines take into account the cost of living and other factors that affect the child’s needs.

In addition to child support, the court will also make decisions about the child’s physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will live, while legal custody refers to who will make important decisions about the child’s education, health care, and other important matters.

If both parents are willing and able to cooperate, joint physical and legal custody may be awarded to both parents. However, if there are concerns about a parent’s ability to care for the child, the court may award sole custody to one parent.

It is important to remember that the decisions made about child custody and support will have a significant impact on the child’s life and well-being. It is important to work with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected throughout the divorce process.


Divorce can be a stressful and emotional process for all parties involved. However, knowing the steps involved in a divorce in New Hampshire can help ease the burden and make the process smoother.

To start, you need to file a Petition for Divorce with the court. Next, you will need to serve your spouse with the petition and give them time to respond. From there, you will attend a hearing where you may resolve any outstanding issues such as child custody and property division. Finally, if everything is resolved, the court will issue a final decree of divorce.

Divorce is not easy, but with the right support and guidance, it is possible to navigate the process successfully. We hope this article has provided you with the information you need to get started on your divorce journey in New Hampshire.

In the end, it’s important to remember that divorce is a personal decision and everyone’s situation is unique. It’s important to seek advice from a qualified attorney to help you through the process and ensure your rights are protected. We wish you the best of luck during this difficult time.

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