In New Hampshire, several divorce options are available for dissolving a marriage. They fall into two categories: uncontested divorces and contested divorces. In some cases, divorcing couples could use two or more of the following procedures:
A. Kitchen Table Discussion
Sometimes, parties believe their problems are best settled between themselves without involving lawyers. This method is often referred to as “kitchen table discussions” because they often take place, literally, at a kitchen table. If all issues are uncontested and can be decided and resolved by the parties in this manner, this is an extremely cost-effective way to obtain a divorce.
B. Collaborative Divorce in New Hampshire
Collaborative Divorce is a fast-emerging concept becoming increasingly popular in New Hampshire divorce cases. If a couple chooses the collaborative route, they and their lawyers sign an agreement promising not to litigate the issues and work together toward resolving issues without adversarial court hearings. Often times, a collaborative divorce is a healthier alternative to battling out the issues in Court.
Mediation is another alternative for resolving a divorce. In a mediation, a trained individual (the mediator) will run the meeting. The mediator will not favor either side, but will work with the parties to facilitate a meaningful discussion in an effort to resolve the issues. Because the mediator is a neutral party, he or she cannot offer legal advice. In mediation, the goal is to reach “The Place of Contentment” where neither side wins or loses, per se, but instead compromises to reach a result both parties can accept.
D. Lawyer-based Negotiations
Another way an agreement can be reached is if the parties' divorce attorneys negotiate the issues on their clients' behalf. In this method, there will be several correspondences and exchanges between the attorneys and their clients.
If the parties have contested divorce issues and choose the litigation route, arbitration can be a more cost-effective and faster approach than the traditional court system. In arbitration, the parties select an arbitrator who is a licensed attorney in New Hampshire. The arbitrator hears the evidence of both sides and issues written findings. To read the family law on Arbitration of Domestic Relations Cases, click here.
In a contested divorce, the parties may choose to litigate the issues before a judge or marital master. Although this process can be more costly and lengthier than other routes (those involving domestic abuse, for example) litigation may be the best option for the parties. In these cases, the Court will decide all the contested issues and issue written findings accordingly.