New Hampshire’s Divorce Process: What to Expect?

Going through a divorce process in New Hampshire involves navigating a series of legal divorce steps that have to be followed with high precision. The standard NH divorce process includes filing and serving paperwork, addressing temporary arrangements, need be, disclosing finances, developing a settlement agreement, and finalizing the divorce. While each couple’s situation is unique, understanding even the general divorce process in NH can help both parties better align their expectations with the realities of the legal world. Therefore, in this article, we will provide an overview of what is the process of divorce depending on different family circumstances and summarize the key stages of the divorce process in NH so you know what to anticipate.

How to Begin a Divorce Process in New Hampshire?

It is crucial to meet a few key preconditions and conduct some preparatory work before you can start a divorce process.

To explain how to begin a divorce process in New Hampshire, we have compiled a list of preliminary divorce steps to take:

  • Establish residency in NH. Either the petitioner or both spouses must have lived in New Hampshire for at least one continuous year prior to filing for divorce.
  • Consider grounds for divorce. New Hampshire recognizes both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. So, you will need to determine appropriate reasons to indicate in the paperwork. Mind that fault-based grounds like adultery, cruelty, substance abuse, or abandonment will require sufficient evidence to present to the court.
  • Gather financial records. One of the obligatory divorce steps is the disclosure of your financial information, including tax returns, income documentation, shared and separate assets and debts, etc. Make sure you have all the detailed records for proper paperwork completion.
  • Determine a parenting plan. If you have minor children, you must create a parenting plan outlining custody, visitation schedules, and child support arrangements to submit to the court.
  • Gather and complete the paperwork. The paperwork you need to fill out and file with the court to initiate the NH divorce process greatly depends on whether you have minor children or high-net-worth marital property, agree with your spouse on all the related issues, etc. Therefore, before filing the documents and starting the divorce process, consider your family situation and define which forms you will need to obtain and complete.

Whether you are planning a traditional or an online divorce process, make sure you meet the relevant requirements and have all the necessary information in hand. This will help you successfully begin the divorce process in New Hampshire and go through some of its stages faster.

Step-by-Step Divorce Process in New Hampshire

The steps involved in the procedure for divorce generally depend on your personal circumstances and the divorce type in particular. Having children, assets, or unresolved disputes regarding either will heavily impact what comes next. Yet, there will be some commonalities.

Here are the key steps of the divorce process in New Hampshire:

  1. Filing the paperwork. A petitioner initiates the official legal proceedings by completing and filing the Petition for Divorce, the Personal Data Sheet, and some additional paperwork that may be required in your personal situation. You will be asked to submit the signed and notarized originals and 2 copies of these forms to the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where you or your spouse lives and pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the fees, you may ask to waive them by filing a Motion to Waive Filing and Service Fees.
  2. Serving the other party. The standard divorce process in NH requires you to notify your spouse you have started the process. For this, you must deliver copies of all the filed forms to them through an accepted service method. You must also inform the court that the other party was properly notified by filing the Return of Service, which makes the court’s future orders binding on them.
  3. Responding to the Petition. The defendant has 15 days to file a written response and associated divorce paperwork, depending on their intention to participate in the case.
  4. Discovery period. After filing the initial paperwork, the New Hampshire law sets a Mandatory Initial Self-Disclosure process that applies to all family law proceedings under Rule 1.25-A. The parties have 45 days from the date of service to exchange certain personal information of a financial nature. Financial Affidavit forms completed by each spouse separately must also be filed with the court.
  5. Scheduling. The further steps in your NH divorce process will depend on the court you file with. The Superior Court will schedule a Structuring Conference or a Temporary Hearing if you request some temporary orders. In the Family Division of the circuit court, you will only receive notice about the scheduled First Appearance. While these events are quite different, they serve the same purpose of evaluating the case and scheduling the next steps in the process of divorce.
  6. Child Impact Seminar. All the divorcing spouses with minor children are obliged to attend a parenting seminar before the First Appearance to get educated about the impact of divorce on children. The Certificate of completion of the Child Impact Seminar must be filed with the court. Failure to comply with this court order may lead to negative consequences and unfavorable outcomes concerning child custody and support decisions.
  7. Finalizing the divorce. Depending on your case, you must appear at the First Appearance or the Structuring Conference for the court to make the final orders on your marriage dissolution. You will also need to attend all the subsequent hearings if the case is contested to resolve all the disputes. As soon as everything is settled, the court will enter a final divorce decree that finalizes the divorce process in New Hampshire. It is final 30 days after the date on the clerk’s notice of decision.

Mutual Divorce Process in New Hampshire

A mutual divorce process in New Hampshire is possible if spouses agree to terminate their marriage jointly. In such a case, they avoid wasting time and money on the service of the legal process.

If the parties agree on all the terms upfront and do not need any negotiations, litigations, or attorney involvement, they may save even more money and speed up the overall process of divorce by skipping several more divorce steps, including court hearings.

If your decision to end your marital union is mutual, the divorce process in New Hampshire will include:

  • Meeting one-year residency requirement;
  • Completing and filing a Joint Petition for Divorce along with other mandatory forms for initiating the legal proceedings;
  • Undergoing a Mandatory Initial Self-Disclosure process;
  • Attending the Child Impact Seminar if you have children;
  • Attending the hearings if scheduled;
  • Getting your final divorce decree.

Once the paperwork is filed, you may proceed to gather the documents and information under the Rule 1.25-A provisions for mandatory financial disclosure. You do not need to serve the paperwork, file the Return of Service, and wait for the defendant’s response required in the standard NH divorce process, saving a lot of time. If you are quick with the financial disclosures and do not need to resolve your disputes in court, your marriage may be terminated in about 30-40 days.


The divorce process in New Hampshire involves filing the initial paperwork, serving forms to the other party, the discovery period, attending the Child Impact Seminar if children are involved, attending the scheduled hearings, and court approval of the final divorce decree.

The divorce process in NH starts by compiling the needed information and submitting the completed paperwork to the county court clerk’s office.