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What is Child Support and When Does it Occur in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, children have the right to support from both parents. To ensure that the child’s rights to support are protected, the court guides or determines child support and custody decisions for divorced, separated, and unmarried parents or those otherwise involved in disputes concerning minor children.

New Hampshire courts grant legal and physical custody - legal custody concerns the parents’ authority making decisions while physical custody concerns the child’s living arrangements. The legal custodian can make decisions concerning the child’s development and welfare, such as where the child goes to school or how the child is raised. The child lives or spends more time with the physical custodian; the court awards the non-custodial parent visitation rights. The court may award both physical and legal custody to one parent, award physical custody to one parent and legal custody to another, or award physical and legal custody to both parents - this is known as joint custody. Unless there is proof to support a different decision, state laws assume that joint legal custody is in the child’s best interest (RSA § 461-A:5)..

The law requires both parents to support minor children, no matter whether the parents are unmarried, separated, or divorced; however, the non-custodial parent typically pays child support to the physical custodian, since the physical custodian is primarily responsible for housing, feeding, and the child’s other basic needs. The Bureau of Child Support Services (BCSS) enforces child support orders in the state.

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Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What is New Hampshire Child Support?

In New Hampshire, parents make monthly payments to support a minor child’s welfare and development regardless of whether the child’s parents are divorced, unmarried, separated, or married to other people. Typically, the parent with whom the child lives receive child support in cash from the non-custodial parent. Children have a right to parental support until the children turn 18 or until the children graduate high school; however, there must be an establishment of the child’s paternity before a child support order can be enforced. The Bureau of Child Support Services (BCSS) establishes and enforces child support orders and collects payments from the parents. The BCSS also helps locate absent parents and establish paternity.

What Does Child Support Cover in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire child support laws exist to ensure that minor children receive adequate support from both parents and to minimize the economic effects of divorce, separation, or any other dispute on the children. Child support payments cover:

  • Basic needs: this includes food, housing, and clothes. This means that child support payments cover groceries, rent, and mortgage.
  • Education: child support covers tuition, school trips, books, private tutors, and uniforms
  • Child care: daycares, nannies, and babysitters are also services that child support covers
  • Entertainment: the state considers entertainment an essential part of a child’s growth. This is why child support covers games, toys, internet access, and other forms of entertainment.
  • Transportation: This includes travel, bus fares, and transportation to and from the non-custodial parent’s house.
  • Medical expenses: including medical insurance, emergency surgeries, and the child’s other medical needs.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire uses Child Support Guidelines to determine monthly child support payment amounts and to ensure that minor children have the same standard of living as parents, and where applicable, as the children in the parents’ subsequent families. In determining child support payment amounts, the court considers the parents’ income, the number of children the parents support, and the child’s needs. The court uses the Child Support Guideline Worksheet and Guideline Table to determine monthly child support payment amounts. Interested parties may use New Hampshire’s online calculator to estimate the monthly amount due.

How do I apply for Child Support in New Hampshire?

Interested and eligible parties may include a child support request in a divorce proceeding, or file a Petition for Parental Rights and Responsibilities with the Family Division of the Superior Court. Interested parties may also apply for child support in New Hampshire by completing an Application for Child Support Services. Alternatively, interested parties may request an email application by emailing the Bureau of Child Support Services at or contacting local BCSS offices. Upon receiving a completed application, the BCSS helps to locate the obligor, establish paternity, create child support orders through New Hampshire courts, and enforce the child support orders. The BCSS also collects and disburses collected child support payments. BCSS charges an annual $35 fee after disbursing $550 to the obligee.

How Do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in New Hampshire?

Once a child’s parentage or paternity is established in court, it is impossible to waive or get out of child support payments in New Hampshire. The law requires both parents to support a child, even if the parents are divorced, separated, or unmarried. However, parents may apply to adjust child support payment amounts due to special circumstances. According to RSA § 458-C:5(I), special circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • Ongoing extraordinary medical expenses for other children
  • A significant change in the parent’s income
  • The economic effect of the presence of stepchildren, stepparents, adopted or natural children
  • State tax requirements
  • Expenses incurred in exercising parental rights
  • Parenting schedule
  • Other special circumstances as the court determines

What is Back Child Support in New Hampshire?

Back child support is the outstanding amount that a non-custodial parent owes to the custodial parent for the economic support, welfare, and upkeep of the child. The BCSS enforces child support orders and collects payments when due; parties who miss or refuse to pay child support payments may face stringent consequences.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in New Hampshire?

Persons interested in collecting back child support payments may contact the BCSS or the court to enforce payment. The court and the BCSS enforcement actions may include:

  • Credit bureau notification
  • Passport denial
  • License revocation
  • Liens against the obligor’s assets
  • Intercepting lottery prizes
  • Show cause hearing
  • Criminal non-support

Is there a New Hampshire Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?

According to RSA § 508:5, the statute of limitations for collecting outstanding child support payments is 20 years. However, in order to file for child support, the child’s paternity must be legally established. All paternity actions must be filed by the child’s 18th birthday.

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