Divorce

With over 100 years of combined experience, our firm is here to help you.

New Hampshire Divorce Attorney

Filing for Divorce in New Hampshire

While everyone plans for a picture-perfect future, real life does not always turn out the way we expect. Navigating the divorce process often leads to anxiety, and with good reason. The stakes are very high for you and your family, as the outcome of your divorce can affect the rest of your life. Not knowing who will get primary child custody, who will be responsible for paying child support and/or alimony, or how your shared property will be divided can be highly stressful.

Fortunately, our New Hampshire divorce attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. have years of experience and can fight to protect the best interests of yourself and your family. We understand that this is an incredibly challenging time in your life, which is why we offer caring, personalized support at every stage of the process. Whether your divorce is uncontested, or you are facing numerous complications, our team is here for you.

To discuss your divorce matter with a member of our legal team, contact us online or call (603) 288-1403 today.

How to File for Divorce in New Hampshire

First, you should know that if you wish to file for divorce in New Hampshire, either you or your spouse (or both) must have lived in the state for at least one year. Next, after meeting this residency requirement, you will need to determine which type of divorce petition applies in your situation.

New Hampshire has two types of divorce petitions:

  • Joint Petitions: To file a joint petition for divorce in New Hampshire, you and your spouse must agree to separate. Although this petition requires you to both agree to begin the process, it is not the same as an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce means both spouses agree to all terms of the divorce; signing a joint petition does not necessarily mean that you can or will agree to every aspect of the divorce.
  • Individual Petitions: An individual petition for divorce in New Hampshire is appropriate when one spouse wishes to begin the divorce process, regardless of the other spouse’s agreement. When this is the case, the petitioner, or the person initiating the divorce, signs the petition before a notary public or justice of the peace on their own. The other spouse, known as the respondent, is then served with divorce papers.

In either case, the original divorce petition can be mailed or brought in person to be filed at the local family courthouse. You will need to include a filing fee and what is known as the “personal data sheet.”

If your spouse filed an individual petition for divorce and you were served divorce papers, you will need to complete an appearance form and provide a copy to both your spouse and the court where your spouse filed the petition. It is important that you read through the divorce papers carefully and act promptly; if you fail to file an appearance form, the court will assume that you do not wish to have a say in the divorce or any of its proceedings.

Additionally, if you fail to “answer” your spouse’s divorce petition, your spouse may be granted a divorce by default. The answer serves as your response to the divorce papers and provides an opportunity for you to list any disputes you may have with the initial petition.

Elements of a Divorce

After the initial petitions and other paperwork have been filed, the divorce process begins. Typically, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to attend mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that allows couples to avoid the time and expense of going to trial. During this process, a qualified third-party known as a mediator will attempt to resolve the various elements of your divorce and allow you and your spouse to come to an agreement on the terms. If mediation is not successful, or if one spouse refuses to participate, the case will proceed to trial. Prior to this, you will be assigned a case manager by the court clerk.

There are various elements that must be agreed on or decided by the court before a divorce can be finalized. These include but are not limited to:

  • The division of property, including assets and debts
  • Child custody, visitation, and parenting time
  • Child support
  • Alimony, or spousal support

Our New Hampshire divorce attorneys are here to provide the personalized guidance and support you need throughout the legal process. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, it is important that you have an experienced legal professional on your side who can help protect your rights while keeping the best interests of your family at the forefront of your case.

Fighting by Your Side

When navigating the challenges ahead, you want a New Hampshire divorce lawyer with experience and a proven track record. We think you deserve that and more. Our team of experienced divorce lawyers includes a former state Supreme Court and Superior Court judge who wrote New Hampshire’s two-volume book on family law used by lawyers and judges across the state. We also have a lawyer whose practice is focused on divorce and family law and who has been appointed to act as guardianad litem to assist family law judges.

Once our firm is involved, you are not alone in dealing with the burden of divorce. We are here to listen to your side and understand the facts. After you tell us about your situation, we can develop solutions that are best for your family situation. We will talk about your ideal outcome and put together a strategy to work towards that goal. We know that each family is unique, so we develop legal plans that are tailored to each individual family.

Put Over 20 Years of Experience on Your Side

At Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., we are proud to have earned our clients’ trust for more than 20 years. In fact, most of our divorce and family law cases are referred to us from other lawyers and satisfied clients.

We understand how stressful and emotional this process is for you. Our goal is to protect our clients’ families and give them the outcomes they desire.

Call our New Hampshire divorce lawyers today at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online to discuss your situation with a member of our team.

FAQ

  • Q:How do I start a divorce?

    A:In New Hampshire, a divorce officially begins when a petition for divorce is filed in the appropriate court. Once the petition is filed in court, it must then be served on the other spouse. Alternatively, some spouses agree to file a joint petition for divorce. The filing of a joint petition for divorce eliminates the necessity of completing “service” upon the other party.

  • Q:How long will It take me to get divorced in New Hampshire?

    A:The answer depends upon the nature and complexity of each case. If both parties begin the process in agreement regarding all issues, both financial and parenting, and all necessary documents are filed with the court (e.g., final stipulation, parenting plan, uniform support order, etc.), then a divorce could be completed in approximately 60 – 90 days, depending on the court where the matter is pending. If the parties are unable to agree upon the terms of their divorce, the process can take considerably longer. Generally speaking, contested divorces can take from one to one and a half years. Ultimately, if the parties are unable to resolve their disputes, and a court is asked to enter final orders after a trial, the length of the divorce can be prolonged if either party seeks an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

  • Q:How much will it cost to get divorced?

    A:This is a very difficult question for any attorney to answer at the beginning of a case, as the nature and the scope of the work required cannot be predicted. In general, your attorney’s fees will be commensurate with the amount of time dedicated to your case. The amount of time dedicated to your case is directly related to the number and complexity of the issues in dispute. Unfortunately, this means if the other person is contentious and disputes most issues and files many motions, this drives up the cost of your case. You should have a clear understanding of the hourly rate that you are being billed for both attorney time and paralegal time, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. You should receive a written fee agreement from your attorney. It is important to read and understand the terms of your financial relationship with your attorney.

  • Q:What is mediation?

    A:Mediation is a process using a mediator, usually a volunteer lawyer or former Marital Master. The mediator has no interest in the case and cannot compel the parties to settle. Mediation is a method by which both parties commit to considering alternative—and sometimes creative—outcomes to the issues in dispute. In a phrase, someone pays more than he/she wants to pay, and someone agrees to receive less than he/she wants. In considering any offer or counteroffer, each party must consider the inherent risks associated with trial, as well as the financial and emotional costs associated with prolonging the litigation. Mediation can resolve any issue arising between spouses/parents at any point during the litigation. Mediation can be used to resolve some—but not all—of the issues in dispute.

  • Q:What are the grounds for divorce in New Hampshire?

    A:New Hampshire has 10 grounds or causes for divorce. A divorce can be granted on the ground that irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of the marriage. Irreconcilable differences is probably the most common ground upon which divorces are granted. Alternatively, a divorce can be granted on grounds of fault, such as adultery, extreme cruelty, or habitual drunkenness.

  • Q:What is a legal separation?

    A:New Hampshire recognizes a legal separation between spouses. A legal separation requires the parties to engage in the same process as a divorce and has the same effect as a divorce except that neither party will be made free to re-marry. If one spouse seeks a legal separation and the other spouse seeks a divorce, the court will proceed with the matter as a divorce.

  • Q:Does New Hampshire recognize alimony?

    A:Yes, the court has the discretion to award alimony. In determining whether an alimony award is appropriate, the court will consider whether the spouse requesting alimony has a financial need and whether the spouse from whom alimony is sought has the financial ability to pay. If the court finds there is a need for alimony and an ability to pay alimony, the following are some of the factors that the court will consider in determining the amount and duration of the alimony award: the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties at the time of the divorce, each spouse’s ability to earn income, the future financial prospects of each spouse, the parties’ respective contributions during the marriage, and fault grounds for the marital breakdown. Unlike child support, which is oftentimes calculated based upon a mathematical formula, there is no such formula for calculating the amount and duration of alimony.

  • Q:Does New Hampshire recognize prenuptial agreements?

    A:Yes, New Hampshire will recognize prenuptial or antenuptial agreements. However, the validity of such agreements is often challenged once the divorce begins. If a spouse challenges the validity of the prenuptial or antenuptial agreement, some of the factors it will consider include the length of the marriage, whether both parties were represented by attorneys in drafting and negotiating the terms of the prenuptial or antenuptial agreement, whether both parties fully disclosed their financial circumstances at the time the prenuptial or antenuptial agreement was executed, whether both parties executed the prenuptial or antenuptial agreement freely and voluntarily, and whether enforcing the terms of the prenuptial or antenuptial agreement would produce a grossly unfair result to one party.

  • Q:Why should I hire Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. as my divorce attorneys?

    A:Many lawyers claim to have divorce and family law experience. At Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., we recognize the long-lasting impact on you and your family. We have experience in all aspects of divorce and family law. As experienced trial lawyers, we will protect you and your family.

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