New Hampshire Divorce Laws

Whether you are considering a contested or an uncontested dissolution of marriage, it is important to understand the legal process and your rights under New Hampshire divorce laws. There is a variety of divorce laws in NH you need to be familiar with even before getting to the steps to divorce in New Hampshire to make sure you, at the very least, qualify to get it. In this article, we will explain key requirements and provisions covering issues like grounds for dissolution of marriage, residency requirements, division of assets, child custody arrangements, dissolution of marriage forms, and more to get you started.

New Hampshire Divorce Requirements

To file for dissolution of marriage in New Hampshire, it will be necessary to meet specific basic requirements under the NH divorce laws.

The key New Hampshire divorce requirements include:

  • According to NH ST § 458:5, the plaintiff must have been a state resident for at least one year prior to filing, or both spouses must live in New Hampshire at the start of the action.
  • To start a divorce process, you must submit the original and 2 copies of the initial dissolution of marriage forms, including a Petition for Divorce, a Personal Data Sheet, and other divorce paperwork, to the county superior court where you or your spouse resides.
  • The case initiator must pay a filing fee that may vary depending on the county and family circumstances. Low-income petitioners may waive the fee by filing a Motion to Waive Filing and Service Fees.
  • New Hampshire allows both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce that must be indicated as the reason for the dissolution of marriage.
  • Under New Hampshire divorce laws, all couples with children are obliged to take a four-hour mandatory Child Impact Seminar that covers the impact of divorce on children. Both parties will need to file the Certificates of attendance and completion.
  • If you have children under 18, you must submit a Parenting Plan outlining custody, visitation, living arrangements, etc. The court wants to see that you have made adequate plans for the children.
  • Details on finances and division of assets must be worked out and laid out in a Financial Affidavit form completed by each party separately. New Hampshire is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to splitting marital property.

Overall, if both spouses agree on the divorce terms, the case can proceed as an uncontested dissolution of marriage. However, contentious issues can lead to an expensive and lengthy contested divorce. Understanding New Hampshire divorce laws and requirements will allow you to prepare for your respective case properly.

What Are the Divorce Laws in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire divorce laws cover the basic regulations that govern the dissolution of the marriage process, including grounds for divorce, property division, child custody arrangements, alimony allocation, etc. Some key provisions include:

Divorce laws in NH recognize both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce.

As stipulated in NH ST § 458:7-a, the only no-fault reason is irreconcilable differences causing the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. It does not require alleging fault or marital misconduct.

Fault-based grounds listed in NH ST § 458:7 include:

  • Adultery;
  • Impotence;
  • Willful desertion for at least 2 years with no contact;
  • Abandonment and refusal to cohabitate for 2+ years;
  • Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse for over 2 years;
  • Imprisonment for over 1 year;
  • Abusive treatment;
  • Conduct endangering physical/mental health;
  • Joining a religious group, renouncing marriage, and refusing to cohabitate for at least 6 months.

Under NH ST § 458:16-a, New Hampshire courts are governed by the equitable distribution principles when dividing property. Marital property, including assets acquired during the marriage, is divided equitably (not necessarily equally). Separate non-marital property is awarded to the original owner. The court examines multiple factors in deciding asset distribution, including but not limited to:

  • Marriage duration;
  • Each party’s age, health, socio-economic situation, education and skills, employability and earning capacity, individual property, income, needs, expenses, and liabilities.
  • Situation, needs, and abilities of the custodial parent;
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, the other party’s education and employability, and the growth or diminution in property value;
  • The tax consequences for each spouse;
  • The fault of either party that caused the marriage breakdown and resulted in physical or mental pain and suffering or economic loss to the injured party;
  • The value of any marital or separate property of each spouse;
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant.

In New Hampshire, the court can award reimbursement or term alimony to either spouse if the situation warrants (NH ST § 458:19).

  • Reimbursement alimony – payments aimed at compensating the former spouse for contribution to the financial resources of the paying party. It cannot exceed 5 years from the date of the final divorce decree and cannot be modified unless the parties agree on changes.
  • Term alimony – periodic payments made to a lower-earning spouse after the effective date of the final decree to maintain their reasonable standard of living. Its maximum length is 50% of the marriage duration, which can be modified under certain circumstances.

The court can also order temporary alimony in the form of periodic support payments to the requesting spouse while a case is pending. The eligibility, type, duration, amounts, and modifications of alimony are determined after considering the following factors:

  • Both parties’ health;
  • One party’s financial dependence on the other;
  • Income levels, skills, employability, assets, and needs of each spouse;
  • Needs of the parties’ children;
  • Tax consequences;
  • Any other factors deemed relevant (NH ST § 458:19-a).

Child custody arrangements should be highlighted in the Parenting Plan that the spouses have to submit to the court. If you cannot agree on the corresponding terms, the New Hampshire family court will make the decisions and establish them in the final order. Even if you reach an agreement on custody, it is important that you understand what are the divorce laws in New Hampshire that cover it, as the judge may overrule some of your decisions for the sake of the children’s best interests.

New Hampshire divorce laws recognize decision-making responsibility and residential responsibility (once known as legal custody and physical custody) and determine them based on the best interests of the child by evaluating the following factors:

  • The child’s relationship with both parents and other people involved;
  • The child’s developmental needs;
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs;
  • Child’s adjustment to the home, school, and community;
  • Parent’s ability and disposition to foster a positive relationship and maintain contact with each other and support the child’s contact and relations with the other party;
  • Any evidence of abuse and its impact on the child;
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant (NH ST § 461-A:6).

New Hampshire determines child support obligations based on the income levels of both parents and considering the needs of the children. Guidelines for minimum support levels vary by number of children, but the court can deviate from those amounts if deemed unreasonable or unfair (NH ST § 458-C:3). The court aims to ensure adequate support for any minor children proportionally distributed between the parents.

Be sure to consult a local attorney if you are not certain about how these or other divorce laws in NH apply to your unique situation or if you are not sure you can reach an agreement with your spouse.


Divorce laws in NH concern a one-year residency requirement, fault and no-fault grounds for dissolutionment of marriage, equitable property division, alimony allocation, and child custody and support determination based on the best interests of children.

Yes, New Hampshire allows fault-based divorce on grounds like adultery, impotence, desertion for a minimum of 2 years, abandonment for 2 years+, habitual alcohol or drug abuse, imprisonment for over one year, cruel treatment, and threat to physical or mental health. However, most divorces proceed on no-fault grounds.

New Hampshire follows “equitable distribution principles,” meaning the marital property is divided fairly, though not necessarily equally, in a divorce. The court examines multiple factors to reach an equitable solution after considering each spouse’s situation.

There is no mandatory separation period in New Hampshire.

Yes, New Hampshire grants annulments that legally void the marriage. Common grounds are unsound mind, fraud, force, physical incapacity, incest, bigamy, etc., if asserted shortly after marriage.