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The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in New Hampshire

Marriages between consenting and eligible individuals happen in a religious or civil ceremony in New Hampshire. However, such unions may end in a divorce or annulment after filing a petition with the New Hampshire Judiciary. The court presides on the case and makes a decree based on the New Hampshire Family Law. Court officials keep records of the filings and decree, which are mostly accessible to the public unless a court order or statute directs otherwise.

What is a New Hampshire Divorce Decree?

A New Hampshire divorce decree is a judicial order that terminates a marriage. The decree removes the bonds of matrimony and restores the maiden status of the parties (Section 458:24)..

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What is an Annulment in New Hampshire?

An annulment is a court order that nullifies marriage in its entirety. That is, the marriage is void from the start and never happened. Per New Hampshire Family Laws, voidable marriages include the marriage of kin (Section 457:2),, marriage of other married persons (Section 458:1),, and marriage of a minor (Section 457:6).. Likewise, the law retroactively voids polygamy and unions solemnized under duress, threat, or force.

Annulment of this marriage begins when the plaintiff submits a complaint at the Circuit Court (Section 458:2).. Divorce and annulment proceedings and associated records are often closed to the public until after final adjudication of the case.

Annulment vs. Divorce in New Hampshire

Divorce and annulment are innately dissimilar. Still, both follow the New Hampshire Rules of Civil Procedure and end a marriage legally. 

However, during a divorce, the court recognizes that the marriage is valid until the final decree. Conversely, annulment retroactively voids the union from the date of marriage hitherto. Thus, an annulled marriage legally does not exist—although the children of such unions are legitimate. Likewise, intending divorcees must file on one of the nine grounds of divorce per Section 458:7 or based on irreconcilable differences. However, a plaintiff can only file for annulment if the marriage is void or voidable.  

Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce in New Hampshire?

No, an annulment costs more than an uncontested divorce or a divorce where the couples are co-petitioners. The cost of annulment in New Hampshire is comparably expensive because of the costs involved in establishing invalidity. There is also the cost of providing supporting medical and legal evidence to solidify the petition.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in New Hampshire?

Suffice to say that an uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree on the grounds of divorce, finances, and asset distribution. Parties must also agree on the rights and obligations after divorce, i.e., alimony, child support, and child custody. The process is streamlined, and the couples do not have to appear in court.

Where to get an Uncontested Divorce Form in New Hampshire?

The clerk of court hands out divorce forms to petitioners at the Family Division of the circuit court. The intending divorcees may also obtain the divorce forms online, and the petitioner(s) may use the systematic instructions that the judiciary provides. Note that to file a divorce, the petitioner or the defendant must meet the New Hampshire residency requirement of one year.

Court records of the ensuing proceeding are available to interested persons after final adjudication. The requester must visit the courthouse or use the New Hampshire case access portal to access divorce records. Note that when the court seals a divorce record, unauthorized persons are prohibited from accessing the record without a court order. And with a court order, the record custodian will redact the sensitive data on the document before allowing third party access.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or persons involved in the case. These include information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in New Hampshire?

Find the contact information of the family division of the circuit court that handled the divorce. Next, make an in-person visit to the office of the clerk during business hours and provide the necessary information to identify the record i.e., case number, party names, and the date of the decree. Based on the New Hampshire courts fee schedule, each search costs $20.00 per name. Each certified copy of the divorce decree costs $40.00.

Where an in-person visit is not possible, the requester must make a mail request. Generally, the requester must enclose a completed request form in a self-addressed stamped envelope. The requester must also attach a copy of a government-issued photo ID and payment for applicable fees. Then, the requester must mail the request to the address of the court.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability is not guaranteed. Similarly, their availability through third-party websites and companies is not guaranteed, as these organizations are not government-sponsored, and record availability may vary. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records is not guaranteed.

How Do I Get a New Hampshire Divorce Decree Online?

The judiciary provides instructions for requesting documents, including divorce decrees, on the case access portal.

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