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Where To Find Family Court Cases In New Hampshire

Family court records in the State of New Hampshire are created and maintained by the Superior courts and the Family division of the Circuit courts. They handle domestic relations issues within the state’s jurisdiction, such as guardianship of minors, child maintenance, and custody, cases of juvenile delinquency, etc.

Most counties in New Hampshire use the family division of the circuit courts in resolving family law related matters, and those without a circuit court use the Superior court. Family court records document the legal proceedings and judgment of these cases. They are public records that can be obtained for inspection and copying by querying the courts where the case of interest was filed and heard.

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.

What Is Family Law In New Hampshire?

Family law in New Hampshire governs proceedings pertaining to family or domestic relationships in the state. Title 43 -Domestic relations of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes are the group of codes that guide the state in family matters. Thee law constitutes the following chapters:

  • Chapter 457 - Marriages
  • Chapter 457-A - [Repealed] Civil Unions
  • Chapter 458 - Annulment, Divorce, and Separation
  • Chapter 458-A - Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
  • Chapter 458-B - Income Assignment
  • Chapter 458-C - Child Support Guidelines
  • Chapter 458-D - Parental Rights and Responsibilities and Child Support Impact Seminars Chapter 458-E - Military Parent’s Right Act
  • Chapter 459 - Uniform Divorce Recognition Law
  • Chapter 460 - Husband and Wife
  • Chapter 461 - Adoption
  • Chapter 461-A - Parental Rights and Responsibilities
  • Chapter 461-B - Emancipation

What Are Family Court Cases And Records In New Hampshire?

New Hampshire Family Court cases involve issues that concern members of the family unit, such as spouses, children, parents, and guardians. The various types of cases heard in the family divisions of the circuit courts in the state include:

  • Divorce
  • Parenting action (custody and visitation actions)
  • Child support
  • Domestic violence petitions
  • Guardianship of minors
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Abuse/neglect cases
  • Children in need of services(CHINS)
  • Cases relating to Juvenile delinquency and juvenile records
  • Some adoption cases, such as the adoption of abused and neglected children, according to the State’s Child Protection Act
  • Foster parenting, etc.

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.

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In New Hampshire?

New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know Law dictates that government agencies should make public records accessible to the public. However, this statute does not apply to courts or the judicial branch of government in the state. Section VII of the Attorney General’s Right to Know Memorandum, States that court records in New Hampshire are dictated under Part I, Article 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution. This law indicates that family court records in New Hampshire, just like all other records maintained by state and local agencies, are public records subject to copying and inspection by the public.

However, some cases within the state’s family law are considered private and confidential and may only be accessed by authorized individuals. Also, all cases resolved under the Uniform Parentage Act are confidential by law and accessible only to the named parties in the case and their attorneys. However, if a party provides another individual with written consent and a valid state or federally-issued photo identification, access may be granted to that individual.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In New Hampshire?

Family court records are stored, maintained, and distributed by the superior courts and the Family Division of the Circuit Courts. Individuals interested in obtaining family court records from these courts must direct their requests in writing to the appropriate court clerk.

Some courthouses may provide alternate means of obtaining court records such as mail, fax, and over the phone. This depends solely on the court where the case was filed and the methods of record retrieval available. Inquirers should note that New courthouses keep copies of civil cases, including family court cases, for one year before they are moved to archives. Also, sealed records will not be made available to the public for inspection without a court order.

Individuals seeking access to records are required to document specific requests with the request forms provided by the clerk of circuit or superior court. Most of these forms have the required fee information on them.

County courts that may be unable to respond to the request within reasonable time may direct the request to;

New Hampshire Judicial Branch Administrative Offices

Central Processing Center

1 Granite Place, Suite N400

Concord, New Hampshire 03301

In this case, the checks or money order should be made payable to the New Hampshire Judicial Branch (NHJB) Central Processing Center.

Some individuals may be able to perform record searches without being required to make payments. For example;

  • State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Military recruiters (State and Local Police Departments)
  • Prosecutors
  • Public Defenders
  • Attorneys
  • The named parties in the case.

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 Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

New Hampshire courts typically do not maintain an online repository of family court records, as most of the documents are kept in paper formats by the courthouses.

Instead, the judicial website is organized to provide users with e-filing forms, court locations, fee information, and downloadable forms to request copies of court records from the administrative office and courthouses across the state.

However, the Judicial website provides a case information feature that provides users with electronic access to information and specific court records that are frequently requested by the public.

What Is New Hampshire Custody Law?

New Hampshire custody law falls under Chapter 461- Parental Rights and Responsibilities and Chapter 458A- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes. These laws guide all child custody judgments in New Hampshire family courts.

These statutes mandate family courts to consider the best interest of the child when resolving child custody cases. In doing so, the court evaluates the following:

  • The child’s preferences
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and other members of the family
  • The quality of the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • Each parent’s ability to care for and nurture the child
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the child’s necessities
  • Each parent’s willingness to support a relationship with the other parent
  • History of domestic violence, substance abuse, negligence or child abuse
  • Incarceration of either parent

Note that the court only accepts the child’s preference if the minor has sound judgment and is mature enough. The Child Custody Law emphasizes cooperation between both parents to foster and nurture the child’s physical and emotional health. However, parents who have committed domestic or sexual abuse may be prohibited from contacting the child.

How To Find Family Court Lawyers In New Hampshire?

The New Hampshire Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service to help individuals get legal assistance. Requesters can send an email, make an online request, or call (603) 229–0002 to use the service. The judicial branch also provides citizens with guidance and access to legal assistance through the Legal services programs. Also, individuals that are unable to pay legal fees can find information on free or low-cost attorneys through the self-help center.

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