Divorce in New Hampshire involves navigating the legal system in addition to the emotional and practical challenges of terminating a marriage.
It doesn’t have to be that difficult, even if it could sound intimidating—especially when you and your partner can work together. What you need to understand before beginning a divorce in New Hampshire is listed below.
Difference Between Divorce/ Legal Separation/ Annulment
Divorce is indeed the end of a relationship as ordered by a court. Legal separation and divorce are both possible in New Hampshire. Whenever the court grants a divorce, it signifies the end of the relationship. Separation is final; the parties can get married again, and all property disputes are resolved.
The only difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that the spouses of a legal separation are not permitted to remarry. Legal separation is not only a prerequisite for divorce in New Hampshire; there is no legal separation prerequisite. You can file an application with the court to have your legal separation changed to a divorce decree if you are already legally separated and decide to dissolve their marriage.
On the contrary side, annulment proves that your marriage never happened. An annulment is generally considered acceptable when one or both parties were incapable of consent, or both continued to lie about a crucial aspect of the marriage, or one or both of the parties was already married to another person.
These reasons include the fact that the partner was a close blood relative, and their union was brief and illegal in the first place (bigamy). In formulating its decision, the court may consider the legality of any children born as a result of the union and the preservation of the marriage’s sanctity. A judge will typically prefer to issue a divorce over an annulment because of these factors.
A rare judicial procedure known as an annulment establishes that a marriage never existed because of one or more of the aforementioned purposes:
- (Bigamy) One or both parties are already legally wed to another person;
- both parties or one of them is underage;
- The parties are blood relations who are close;
- Regarding a crucial aspect of the marriage, one of the partners lied.
An annulment is more challenging to get than a divorce, and you must be ready to provide evidence to back up your claims. Although annulments are possible, the court prefers to see the parties separate rather than give an annulment.
Residency Requirements for Divorce In New Hampshire
One of the essential prerequisites would have to be satisfied in order to be eligible for divorce in New Hampshire:
- Whenever you apply for divorce, both you and your partner reside in the state.
- Before even the filing deadline, you had been a resident of the state for a full year.
- You both reside in the state, and your spouse was personally served while in the state (see the section below for further information on serving documents).
Living in the state implies residing in what you perceive to be your permanent home for the purposes of this residency requirement.
Grounds for Divorce
You, your spouse, and the state will be the three main parties in your divorce, just as they were throughout your marriage. You can’t just decide to split away on your own, mount your horse, and ride out into the distance. Each state has passed legislation governing permissible grounds over the years.
No particular grounds for separation beyond the standard “major disagreements that have exacerbated the irrevocable breakdown of the marriage”—basically, that you believe your differences as a couple have reached a point where your marriage can never be repaired—are required in NH, which is what is known as a “no-fault divorce” state.
In NH, no-fault divorces are the most common type. The motive for citing grounds for separation as a tactic in the divorce process has diminished with the tendency toward mediating disputes and increasing collaboration over parenting issues.
The following are some examples of legal grounds for divorce in New Hampshire:
- The impotence of either party;
- severe cruelty on the part of one party toward the other;
- Abuse in the physical sense or a plausible suspicion of such abuse.
- Adultery; (If adultery is alleged, the “co-respondent” must be specified in the application, i.e., the individual with whom your partner is committing adultery).
- conviction of a felony carrying a sentence of more than one year in prison;
- two years or more of continuous abandonment by one spouse of the other;
- When one party has consistently been intoxicated for more than two years;
- When one partner joins a religious group or community that considers husband-and-wife relationships to be impermissible and who refuses to cohabit for a duration of six months or more.
Given that names, dates, locations, paramours, and other details must be made public, there is certainly no such thing as a happy adultery case. You’re lucky if your partner is honest about the relationship and no longer cares what you understand. You can then catch your partner in flagrante delicto, which implies they are clearly wrong, and you might not need to hire investigators.
To support your claim in court, you could still want the services of an investigator. A corroborating witness is still required, such as a common acquaintance or neighbor who has no stake in the situation other than to testify in court about what they saw.
The majority of adultery cases are proven through corroborating evidence. Therefore you must show that your partner had the motivation and opportunity to deceive.
In most cases, public demonstrations of intimacy between the adulterous husband and the paramour, such as handholding, kissing, and hugging, are adequate proof. By demonstrating that your spouse was spotted entering the paramour’s apartment at 11 p.m. and staying there until 8 a.m. the next morning when they were both alone, you can argue that you had the opportunity.
The courts might not grant you divorce if you can just demonstrate disposition but not opportunity because they might conclude that it is just idle guesswork. The same is true if you cannot prove your disposition and can only demonstrate opportunity.
Preparing the Initial Divorce Papers
You can acquire the guidelines and paperwork you need for your divorce from the NH Courts website. You must complete the paperwork under the title “petitioner” if you are the one initiating the divorce proceedings. The “respondent” will be your partner. For weddings, both with and without children, various forms and guidelines are available.
You can submit a joint petition when you and your husband can’t reach an agreement on everything in your divorce. In this manner, you can avoid serving the separation papers in person (as discussed below). However, you’ll have to submit a standard divorce application if your spouse has still not consented to the separation.
The court receives information from either kind of petition filed to confirm that you are qualified to file for divorce in New Hampshire. Additionally, it informs the court about the terms of your divorce request, such as child custody or alimony.
You must complete a personal data sheet that contains details about you, your partner, and any children you may have together and in conjunction with the application.
Filing and Serving the Divorce Papers
One will begin the divorce procedure by submitting the necessary documents to the Family Division of the Circuit Court in the county where you or your partner resides after completing and signing the forms.
An electronic filing system is now being used in New Hampshire and, therefore, will eventually be required for all court proceedings. To find out whether you must submit your final paperwork electronically, consult the court’s website or get in touch with the Family Court Clerk in the district where the divorce is being filed.
Be aware that there are costs associated with submitting court documentation with the court. In New Hampshire, divorce application filing costs were $250 (or $252 with minor children) as of 2022. You might want to check with the family court clerk’s office to confirm the actual amount and the permitted means of payment, as court fees are always subject to change.
You can submit a “Motion for Waiver of Filing Charge” if you are unable to pay the fee. You won’t have to pay any court costs throughout the separation process if the judge grants your petition.
Simply make absolutely sure that you and your partner have photocopies of all the documents you’ve filed if you’ve filed a joint petition. If not, you must spend an extra $25 when submitting the standard divorce application in order to ask for “orders of notice.”
The court clerk may inform your spouse in writing that a divorce petition has been filed and that they have ten days to pick up the necessary paperwork at the courthouse. The clerk will mail you a copy of the paperwork for your spouse if they haven’t been picked up by them by then. The divorce papers must then be served to your spouse using one of the following methods:
- Sending the paperwork via certified mail (with restricted delivery and return receipt requested).
- Planning for a sheriff to personally deliver the papers (or another authorized process server if your spouse lives in another state).
The signed return receipt or evidence of service must then be filed with the court. If you are unable to locate your spouse, speak to the court clerk about other options for serving him or her, such as posting a notice in the newspaper.
Responding to the Divorce Papers
Within 15 days of receiving a copy of the divorce papers, the respondent spouse who wishes to take part in their divorce proceedings must submit an “Appearance” form. Respondents may, but are not obligated to, submit a rebuttal or a cross-petition, which essentially amounts to a counter-divorce action. In the absence of a response, the judge may simply grant the petitioner’s requests for everything demanded in the divorce ruling.
In every divorce, New Hampshire mandates that the partners provide a wealth of financial information. Financial affidavits must be completed by you and your partner, exchanged and then submitted to the court.
You should also communicate a variety of financial supporting documentation, such as current tax returns, earnings declarations, bank and credit card statements, documentation regarding assets, debts, and the cost and status of employer-provided health insurance unless you both agree (or the court orders) alternatively.
In order to complete the affidavit as thoroughly as possible, it is a smart option to acquire as much of this material in preparation as you can. You must be sincere since a spouse who withholds any necessary information risks consequences, including fines and perhaps even jail time.
Finalizing Your New Hampshire Divorce
Regardless of whether your divorce is contentious or uncontested will largely determine how long it takes to complete. There is no required waiting time for divorce in New Hampshire. Therefore, if your case is uncontested, you should really be ready to complete your marriage dissolution rather fast. If you and your partner have accepted a written waiver of your right to attend a final hearing, you might not even be required to appear in court. The judge may just sign the final divorce decree if all of your documentation is in place.
It will take much longer if your petition is contested. Unless you’re capable of resolving all of your disagreements at some point during the procedure—typically through your attorneys—it determines how much lengthier.
You will need to go through a divorce trial if there are any outstanding issues so that a judge may rule on them. This process, which can take up to a year or longer, is by far the slowest and most expensive way to get your divorce decision.
Be forewarned that the magistrate may halt your case at some point during the divorce procedure. If the judge thinks there’s a good chance you and your divorced husband can get back together, which would happen. In that situation, the judge can mandate that you both go to marriage counseling.
The length of the divorce process in New Hampshire depends on whether there are children involved, but it usually lasts between one and three months. In New Hampshire, there is no requirement that must pass before the separation can be declared final.
If you don’t have any minor children, New Hampshire’s divorce filing fee is $250. If you have kids, the cost is $252. A judge decides if you can progress without paying any fees if you file a Motion to Waive Filing and Service Fees if you are unable to pay the filing fee.
There is no waiting time or separation period necessary in New Hampshire prior to getting a divorce.