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How to File for Divorce in New Hampshire

Filing for divorce in New Hampshire commences the process of legally terminating a marital relationship. Typically, the time it takes for divorce proceedings depends on the willingness of the parties to agree on issues that may arise. Interested individuals can file for divorce at the Circuit Courts’ family division of the Judicial Branch. To file a divorce, both parties must live in the state or one of them must have lived there for a year or more.

Do I need a Reason for Divorce in New Hampshire?

Following Section 458:7-a, individuals can file for divorce, regardless of any reason, due to irreconcilable differences. Complainants can also file for divorce in New Hampshire following Section 458:7. Legally acceptable grounds for divorce in the state include:

  • Impotency of a party
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Adultery committed by any party
  • If a party has a conviction that is punishable by the minimum of a year incarceration
  • Abandonment by a party for a total of two years or more
  • Habitual drunkenness of either party for a total of at least two years
  • If a party has caused the other serious health issues
  • Wilful refusal to reside with the other party for at least two years

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 in order 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.

Why do I need a Divorce Lawyer?

Based on their knowledge of the state’s legal process, divorce lawyers can assist in filing for divorce at the appropriate court. Divorce attorneys can also advise clients during the negotiation for issues like child custody, alimony, or property sharing. The litigation process may be long for contested divorce and attorneys can represent their clients during such court hearings.

How do I Get Started in a Divorce in New Hampshire?

Interested persons can commence a divorce action in New Hampshire by filing a joint petition for divorce or a petition for divorce for a person. The petition can be filed at the courthouse in the county that either of the parties resides. Petitioners can find a courthouse in New Hampshire by using the court directory. The filing process may however be slightly different for a divorce action without minor children and divorce with minor children. Divorce with minor children will require the petitioners to some more forms that are available on the Judicial Branch site. Upon filing an individual petition, the other party must be notified and served the court papers. Petitioners may use the Sheriff’s services or mail to deliver copies of the paperwork to the respondent. Respondents may also obtain them at the courthouse. Divorce petitions are filed alongside a Personal Data Sheet that petitioners must fill with their personal information and spouse’s own. Although not mandatory, respondents may file an answer if they do not agree with the divorce petition. Court hearings usually commence upon the successful filings of the required forms.

How to File for Divorce in New Hampshire Without a Lawyer?

Regardless of if petitioners file a divorce in New Hampshire with or without a lawyer, the filing process is the same. Self-represented petitioners can follow the procedures contained in the Family Division’s divorce webpage. New Hampshire’s Legal Aid Center also provides resources to assist self-represented litigants.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. 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 cannot be guaranteed.

How Does New Hampshire Divorce Mediation Work?

New Hampshire divorce mediation is an alternative method to resolve disputes between parties involved in a divorce action. Generally, the court appoints a professional that serves as a neutral party and aids the parties to reach an agreement. Mediation is usually court-mandated for divorce that involves minors, after the first court appearance. The court can also recommend mediation for divorce without minor youths after a judge reviews the case. The parties may also file a motion to request mediation from the court. However, the court cannot grant mediation requests for divorce actions that involve domestic abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, or severe alcoholism.

Failure of any party to participate in a court-mandated mediation program will attract a fee. If the program does not yield an agreement, divorce litigation continues.

How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in New Hampshire?

Usually, mediation occurs within thirty days after the judge’s recommendation or granting of a mediation motion. If the parties reach a mutual agreement after the negotiations, the judge may hold a hearing to finalize the divorce based on the agreement made. However, the failure of an agreement to occur will lead to further litigation process, and this may take longer.

Are Divorce Records Public in New Hampshire?

Divorce records in New Hampshire are private and therefore not accessible to everyone. Such information is only accessible to eligible persons which include the subject of the record, their attorneys, and any person with a court order to that effect. However, interested persons can obtain divorce records from its custodians if it is at least fifty years old from the date of request.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a 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 person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

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

How do I Get New Hampshire Divorce Records?

Although divorce records are generally not public in New Hampshire, interested persons can get records over fifty years old from the town or city clerks. The clerk may require information about the record to retrieve them. Such information includes the location of the divorce, names on the record, and the date of the divorce. Inquirers can also visit the websites of towns/cities to check if they offer online access to divorce records they maintain.

Alternatively, querying parties can fill the Divorce Form and address it to the New Hampshire Division of Vital Records Administration at:

Division of Vital Records Administration

9 Ratification Way

Concord, New Hampshire

Phone: (603) 271–4650

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