New Hampshire Divorce FAQ

Which approach should we use?
For a discussion of the various approaches for reaching agreement, click here. Often a combination of approaches will be used. Many people start off angry, hurt and unbending and eventually, with the help of the attorney and a counselor, come to resolving the divorce without litigation, using mediation or collaborative law. If all else fails litigation can be sought.

What is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is when the parties agree to all of the terms, including the grounds for divorce, division of property, parenting arrangements for the children, child support, and alimony. A contested divorce requires that a judge make decisions on some or all of the issues regarding property, support, and the children.

What happens if I do not want to get divorced and my spouse does?
You have no choice. New Hampshire is a "no fault" state and your spouse can obtain a divorce without your consent, cooperation or agreement. You should seek legal advice. Do not assume that if you do nothing you will be protected.

Which way to turn? Attorney Margaret Hall is experienced in all of the legal approaches to divorce.

Who should leave the house once we decide to get divorced?
If there is a disagreement between the parties as to who will move from the house, this can be a complex area and will require consultation with an attorney and possibly a counselor. There will be a number of factors to consider, including whether or not you have minor children, and whether there is a stay-at-home parent. Or if there is sufficient monies to support two households.

What is the difference between Custody and a Parenting Plan?
In New Hampshire the law provides for parental rights and responsibilities. The legislation that made the change to parental rights and responsibilities changed what we called "custody" to "parenting." In every divorce where there are minor children a Parenting Plan is needed, assigning residential responsibility and arranging parenting time for each of the parents, including holidays, school and other vacation time.

The terms custody and visitation are still commonly used. But the culture has changed so that children are not treated as possessions. Hopefully the parents will agree that they will each have parenting time with the children even if the schedule resembles what used to be called custody and visitation.

Explain Child Support?
Child support is established in accordance with a specific calculation set out in the New Hampshire Family Law. Even though we call time with the children parenting time or shared parenting time, there is still child support. Child support is based on a number of factors, including who has primary residential responsibility for the children, and who makes more money. It is necessary to be properly represented to get correct child support in accordance with the guidelines. In July 2013 the way in which child support is calculated is slated to totally change, taking into account shared parenting time and percentages of time are assigned to the formula.

How long does it take to get divorced?
This depends upon whether or not it is a contested, uncontested, mediated or litigated case. At a minimum, if both parties are in full agreement, it will take a few months to complete the necessary paperwork and obtain an order from the court. A case that is contested and disputed can take more than a year.

In 2012 we experienced many changes in the Court system itself. We now have a Family division in every County except Cheshire County. The Court system is organized as a Circuit system rather than strictly by County. In the last year we have experienced significant delays as the Court has undergone changes and during a time when the Court system was underfunded.

Divorce questions? Attorney Margaret Hall has been helping families facing separation and divorce for over 25 years.

Should I be worried if my spouse threatens to get a lawyer?
No. There are many rights, responsibilities, obligations that will need to be decided in the process of getting divorced. It is necessary for you to know what your rights are and how to protect those rights. It is equally important to be advised of your obligations and how to meet them.

What kind of decisions need to be made while we separate and move toward divorce?
If you have children it is important that they be protected and provided for by both parents. It is important to recognize that you are both parents. Often the pattern or schedule that has been established during the marriage will continue afterwards. For example if one of the parents has been a stay at home parent, it may be too disruptive to change that pattern for the children. It will vary based on your circumstances and how you and your spouse interact in front of the children. So decisions need to be made about where the children will live and when - how you as parents share time with them.

Decisions need to be made about property, such as who will keep the marital home or whether it should be sold. Numerous items such as retirement accounts, health insurance, life insurance, child support, alimony must also be addressed.

What does a divorce cost?
Most attorneys charge an hourly rate and request a retainer in advance in order to become involved in a court case. Currently the filing fee for divorce is $250.00 ($252.00 if there are children). Hourly rates vary. Fees for Attorney Hall's services will be discussed at the first meeting.

A litigated divorce can run in excess of $10,000.00 or even more, whereas arriving at a settlement through mediation or collaborative law may be $3000.00 - $5000.00.

How do I get started or get more information?
Please call 603 673-8323 or send an email to

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