New Hampshire Divorce FAQs

1. Do I need a divorce attorney for my New Hampshire divorce?

It depends. At the very least, a consultation with a lawyer is recommended. Once a judge makes a ruling on the issues surrounding a divorce, it can be very difficult to change that decision down the road, absent specific circumstances defined by law. Ignorance of the law will not be a good enough reason for a court to reverse itself. Unless your marriage has been very short, with little assets and no children, a lawyer is probably a good idea.

2. How much will a NH divorce attorney cost?

In New Hampshire, a divorce attorney could charge anywhere from $175 to over $300 an hour. The hourly rate depends on, among other things, the divorce attorney's experience, the complexity of the case, and the location of the lawyer's office. (A lawyer in a metropolitan area may charge more than a lawyer in a rural area.) Contingency fees in a divorce cases are prohibited by the lawyers' professional code of conduct. Typically, a divorce attorney will request a retainer that will be used to bill against. The retainer could be as low as $500 or as high as several thousand dollars.

3. In New Hampshire, who decides who gets custody of the children?

It depends on what divorce option you and your spouse elect to use. If the parties decide their issues in an uncontested manner, i.e. at the “kitchen table,” in a mediation, or through the collaborative law process you and your spouse decide the issues surrounding custody. This agreement will later be reviewed by a judge for approval. If you have a contested divorce, a third party, like a judge, will decide the issue of custody. Read NH law RSA 461-a:6 (II). Keep in mind, however, that in New Hampshire, a judge has the authority to order mediation in contested cases involving disputed custody issues; therefore, even if you contest the custody issues, you may be required to try to mediate them in the first instance. This is not true of every contested case; in some cases a judge may not order mediation if specific facts are present. Read NH law RSA 461-A:7 IV.

4. How can I minimize the potential traumatic effect that a divorce might have on the children?

Children can obviously suffer from the emotional upheaval that a divorce can cause. In addition to a change in supervision, children may experience a change in their everyday routine and their home environment. Because of this, parties who divorce with children should focus not on winning the divorce but rather, agreeing to terms of the dissolution of the marriage with the best interest of their children in mind. Collaborative divorce should be considered in this scenario because it is an “interest-based” process; therefore, if the parties have their children's stability and happiness as a goal, they will keep these goals in the forefront of their mind when making decisions regarding the dissolution of their marriage.

5. How much will child support in NH cost?

It depends on the number of the children and the incomes of the parents. The least amount that a person can pay for child support is $50.00 a month. The process of obtaining a child support order begins when a petition for divorce or a parenting petition is filed.

6. Do I have to pay/can I receive alimony?

In New Hampshire, alimony is gender neutral. A party can only seek alimony if it has been specifically pled prior to the final hearing. Unlike child support guidelines, alimony does not have a specific formula. Instead, the court will consider a number of different factors such as: the length of the marriage, the health of the parties, and the employability of each party. The issue of alimony is case-specific and should be discussed with a divorce attorney.

7. If I do not want to get divorced, can I stop the process?

No, you cannot. You do, however, have a choice in how the divorce can proceed. Because a divorce can occur without your consent, ignoring the process because you do not want it to happen will not stop it. That is why it is important to seek legal counsel to ensure that you understand the process and its potential outcomes for your future.

8. Which divorce option is best for me?

There are different divorce options. Your best option totally depends on your and your spouse's circumstances. In some cases, parties will choose to employ two or more of the divorce methods. For example, if the parties agree on everything but custody, that issue can be the sole focus of a contested hearing.

9. What is the difference between a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce in the state of New Hampshire?

In an uncontested divorce, the parties have come to an agreement on the issues surrounding the dissolution of the marriage. In a contested divorce, the parties have not agreed on one or more of the issues.

10. How long will it take to get divorced?

The time it can take to get divorced depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested and what divorce method the parties utilize. If the parties are able to come to an agreement informally or if they use the collaborative process, the divorce can only take a few months. If the case is contested and has to go before a judge, the process can take a year or longer depending on the complexity of the issues and the court's docket.