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.
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.