ANNULMENT, DIVORCE AND SEPARATION
Source. RS 148:1. CS 157:1. GS 163:1. GL 182:1. PS 175:1. PL 287:1. RL 339:1. RSA 458:1. 1981, 160:6, eff. Aug. 1, 1981.
Source. RS 148:2. CS 157:2. GS 163:2. GL 182:2. PS 175:2. PL 287:2. RL 339:2. 2004, 114:2, 3, eff. May 17, 2004.
Source. 1945, 12:1, eff. Feb. 13, 1945.
Jurisdiction to Grant Divorce
Source. 1883, 14:1. PS 175:3. PL 287:3. RL 339:3.
I. Where both parties were domiciled in the state when the action was commenced.
II. Where the plaintiff was so domiciled and the defendant was personally served with process within the state.
III. Where the plaintiff was domiciled in the state for one year next preceding the time when the action was commenced.
Where the domiciled plaintiff has filed a petition, the non-domiciled defendant may have affirmative relief upon filing a cross petition.
Source. 1883, 14:1. PS 175:3. PL 287:4. RL 339:4. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004.
Source. 1883, 14:1. PS 175:3. PL 287:5. RL 339:5.
Causes for Divorce
I. Impotency of either party.
II. Adultery of either party.
III. Extreme cruelty of either party to the other.
IV. Conviction of either party, in any state or federal district, of a crime punishable with imprisonment for more than one year and actual imprisonment under such conviction.
V. When either party has so treated the other as seriously to injure health or endanger reason.
VI. When either party has been absent 2 years together, and has not been heard of.
VII. When either party is an habitual drunkard, and has been such for 2 years together.
VIII. When either party has joined any religious sect or society which professes to believe the relation of husband and wife unlawful, and has refused to cohabit with the other for 6 months together.
IX. When either party, without sufficient cause, and without the consent of the other, has abandoned and refused, for 2 years together, to cohabit with the other.
Source. RS 148:3. CS 157:3. GS 163:3. GL 182:3. PS 175:5. PL 287:6. 1938, 4:1. RL 339:6. RSA 458:7. 1957, 67:1. 1999, 198:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2000.
Source. 1971, 445:1. 1998, 53:1. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004. 2005, 273:2, eff. Oct. 1, 2005.
Source. 1971, 445:1, eff. Aug. 29, 1971. 2011, 106:1, eff. July 30, 2011.
I. If the parties file a joint petition, the petition shall be filed at the appropriate court without further service or notice required.
II. An individual petition shall be filed with the appropriate court, together with the filing fee, by the petitioner. Upon the filing of a petition, the court shall issue orders of notice, attached to the petition, which the petitioner shall then serve on the respondent as provided in this section:
(a) Service within the state shall be made either by:
(1) A sheriff, in hand or by leaving an attested copy of the petition, orders of notice, and an appearance form at the respondent’s abode, within 25 days of receipt of orders of notice. The return of service shall state the street and number, or some other description, of the abode. The petitioner shall file the return of service with the court as proof of service.
(2) Certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery, mailed within 7 days of receipt of orders of notice, signed by the addressee only. The petitioner shall file the return receipt with the court as proof of service.
(b) Service outside the state shall be made either by:
(1) An officer authorized to make service of process in the state where the respondent lives. Proof of out-of-state service shall be made by a return of the officer under oath, accompanied by an official certificate of his or her official character or authority. The petitioner shall file the return of service with the court as proof of service.
(2) Certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery, signed by the addressee only. The petitioner shall file the return receipt with the court as proof of service.
II-a. In lieu of service as described in paragraph II, the court may, after issuing orders of notice, send notice to the respondent indicating that the petition has been filed and that the respondent or the respondent’s attorney may accept service at the court within 10 days. If neither the respondent nor the attorney for the respondent accepts service at the court within 10 days as specified in the correspondence, the petition shall be forwarded to the petitioner for service in accordance with paragraph II.
III. When the residence of the respondent is not known, the petition shall state the respondent’s last known post office address, and the name and post office address of some near relative of the respondent, if any is known to the petitioner, and otherwise the name and post office address of some friend of the respondent, such facts to be verified by the petitioner’s personal affidavit filed with the petition. The petitioner shall file the petition with the court together with the name and address of a newspaper published in the city or town nearest to the respondent’s last known address. Service shall then be ordered by publication in the newspaper, with publication to be completed not less than 15 days before the return date, and by certified mail addressed to the respondent, care of the relative or friend of the respondent, or otherwise as the court may order. Publication may be waived for good cause upon motion to the court.
Source. RS 148:6. CS 157:6. GS 163:5. GL 182:5. PS 175:8. PL 287:8. RL 339:8. 2001, 147:1. 2004, 114:1, eff. May 17, 2004; 169:4, eff. May 17, 2004 at 12:01 a.m. 2005, 57:1, eff. July 1, 2005; 177:17, eff. July 1, 2005.
Source. 1949, 145:1. 1951, 128:1. RSA 458:11. 1996, 32:1. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004.
Source. RS 148:8. CS 157:8. GS 163:7. GL 182:7. PS 175:10. PL 287:10. RL 339:10. RSA 458:12. 1971, 445:2. 1996, 32:2. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004.
Source. RS 148:9. CS 157:9. GS 163:8. GL 182:8. PS 175:11. PL 287:11. RL 339:11.
Source. RS 148:16. CS 157:16. GS 163:15. GL 182:15. PS 175:18. PL 287:12. RL 339:12. 2001, 246:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2002.
Source. 1881, 12:1. 1885, 2:1. PS 175:19. PL 287:13. RL 339:13. RSA 458:15. 1977, 279:1; 536:3. 1978, 40:2. 2003, 319:73, eff. July 1, 2003.
I. Except as provided in paragraph III, all financial affidavits filed under this chapter shall be confidential and accessible only to the parties, their attorneys, the guardian ad litem, department of health and human services employees responsible for child support administration, persons specified in RSA 161-B:7, III, and state and federal officials for the purpose of carrying out their official functions.
II. Any person who knowingly discloses a financial affidavit to any person not authorized to obtain the financial affidavit under this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. This paragraph shall not apply to documents released by a court pursuant to paragraph III.
III. Notwithstanding paragraph I, the court may grant access to a financial affidavit filed under this chapter to a person upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the public interest served by release of the information outweighs the private interest served by maintaining the privacy of the financial affidavit. For the purposes of this paragraph, the right of the public to access court records shall not, absent further cause, constitute sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of privacy contained in paragraph I.
Source. 2004, 202:1, eff. Aug. 10, 2004. 2005, 216:1, eff. Sept. 3, 2005.
I. In this section:
(a) “Mediation” means a process in which a neutral third party facilitates settlement discussions between parties.
(b) “Mediator” means a family mediator, certified pursuant to RSA 328-C, who has contracted with the court to participate in court-referred mediation under this section.
II. The court may order the parties to participate in mediation upon the request of either party or at the discretion of the court. If the parties are ordered to participate in mediation under this section, all issues relevant to their case, including but not limited to property settlement and alimony also shall be mediated unless the court orders otherwise. Mediation may not be ordered pursuant to this section if the case involves minor children and the parties are eligible for mediation under RSA 461-A:7.
III. Reasons the court may choose not to order mediation include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) A showing of undue hardship to a party.
(b) An agreement between the parties for alternate dispute resolution procedures.
(c) A finding of alcoholism or drug abuse unless all parties agree to mediation.
(d) An allegation of serious psychological or emotional abuse.
(e) Lack of an available, suitable mediator within a reasonable time period.
IV. The court shall not order mediation if there is a finding of domestic violence as defined in RSA 173-B:1, unless all parties agree to mediation.
V. The mediator has no authority to make a decision or impose a settlement upon the parties. The mediator shall attempt to focus the attention of the parties upon their needs and interests rather than upon their positions. Any settlement is entirely voluntary. In the absence of settlement, the parties lose none of their rights to a resolution of their dispute through litigation.
VI. Either party may move to have the mediator replaced for good cause.
VII. Mediation proceedings shall be held in private, and all communications, oral or written, made during the proceedings, which relate to the issues being mediated, whether made by the mediator, or a party, or any other person present, shall be privileged and confidential and shall not be disclosed and shall not be admissible in court, except as provided in RSA 328-C:9.
VIII. Any mediated agreement reached by the parties on all or some of the disputed issues shall be reduced to writing, signed by each party, and filed with the court as soon as practicable.
IX. The parties shall participate at mediation in good faith. If the mediator determines that mediation is not helpful in resolving the dispute, the mediator shall report that fact to the court and return the matter to the court for adjudication of the underlying issues.
Source. 2006, 147:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2007. 2009, 21:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2010.
Alimony, Allowances, Custody, etc.
I. After the filing of a petition for divorce, annulment, separation or a decree of nullity, the superior court may issue orders with such conditions and limitations as the court deems just which may, at the discretion of the court, be made on a temporary or permanent basis. Temporary orders may be issued ex parte. Said orders may be to the following effect:
(a) Directing any party to refrain from abusing or interfering in any way with the person or liberty of the other party.
(b) Enjoining any party from entering the premises wherein the other party resides upon a showing that physical or emotional harm would otherwise result.
(c) Enjoining any party from contacting the other party at, or entering, the other party’s place of employment or school.
(d) Enjoining any party from harassing, intimidating or threatening the other party, other party’s relatives regardless of their place of residences, or the other party’s household members in any way.
(e) Determining the temporary custody and maintenance of any minor children as shall be deemed expedient for the benefit of the children; provided, however, that no preference shall be given to either parent in awarding such custody because of the parent’s sex.
(f) Ordering a temporary allowance to be paid for the support of the other.
(g) Enjoining any party from transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, and if such order is directed against a party, it may require such party to notify the other party of any proposed extraordinary expenditures and to account to the court for all such extraordinary expenditures.
(h) Ordering the sale of the marital residence provided that both parties have previously filed a written stipulation with the clerk of the court explicitly agreeing to the sale of the property prior to the final hearing on the merits. If the parties have not so stipulated, the sale of the marital residence shall not be ordered prior to the final hearing as long as the court deems the party residing within the marital residence to have sufficient financial resources to pay the debts or obligations generated by the property, including mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, and ordinary maintenance, as those debts and obligations come due.
II. (a) Ex parte orders may be granted without written or oral notice to the adverse party only if the court finds from specific facts shown by affidavit or by the verified petition, that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the applicant, the children, or property before the adverse party or attorney can be heard in opposition.
(b) No ex parte order shall be granted without:
(1) An affidavit from the moving party verifying the notice given to the other party or verifying the attempt to notify the other party.
(2) A determination by the court that such notice or attempt at notice was timely so as to afford the other party an opportunity to be present.
(c) If temporary orders are made ex parte, the party against whom the orders are issued may file a written request with the clerk of the superior court and request a hearing thereon. Such a hearing shall be held no later than 5 days after the request is received by the clerk for the county in which the petition for divorce, annulment, separation or decree of nullity is filed.
III. When a party violates a restraining order issued under this section by committing assault, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, stalking, or another criminal act, that party shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and peace officers shall arrest the party, detain the party pursuant to RSA 594:19-a and refer the party for prosecution. Such arrests may be made within 12 hours after a violation without a warrant upon probable cause whether or not the violation is committed in the presence of a peace officer.
Source. RS 148:10. CS 157:10. GS 163:9. GL 182:9. 1887, 100:1; 103:1. PS 175:12. 1919, 39:1. PL 287:14. RL 339:14. 1949, 240:1. RSA 458:16. 1955, 262:3. 1967, 132:18; 259:1. 1971, 445:3. 1975, 426:1. 1992, 208:1. 1994, 259:12. 1996, 32:3. 2000, 258:1. 2002, 46:1; 79:2. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004.
I. Property shall include all tangible and intangible property and assets, real or personal, belonging to either or both parties, whether title to the property is held in the name of either or both parties. Intangible property includes, but is not limited to, employment benefits, vested and non-vested pension or other retirement benefits, or savings plans. To the extent permitted by federal law, property shall include military retirement and veterans’ disability benefits.
II. When a dissolution of a marriage is decreed, the court may order an equitable division of property between the parties. The court shall presume that an equal division is an equitable distribution of property, unless the court establishes a trust fund under RSA 458:20 or unless the court decides that an equal division would not be appropriate or equitable after considering one or more of the following factors:
(a) The duration of the marriage.
(b) The age, health, social or economic status, occupation, vocational skills, employability, separate property, amount and sources of income, needs and liabilities of each party.
(c) The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income.
(d) The ability of the custodial parent, if any, to engage in gainful employment without substantially interfering with the interests of any minor children in the custody of said party.
(e) The need of the custodial parent, if any, to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects.
(f) The actions of either party during the marriage which contributed to the growth or diminution in value of property owned by either or both of the parties.
(g) Significant disparity between the parties in relation to contributions to the marriage, including contributions to the care and education of the children and the care and management of the home.
(h) Any direct or indirect contribution made by one party to help educate or develop the career or employability of the other party and any interruption of either party’s educational or personal career opportunities for the benefit of the other’s career or for the benefit of the parties’ marriage or children.
(i) The expectation of pension or retirement rights acquired prior to or during the marriage.
(j) The tax consequences for each party.
(k) The value of property that is allocated by a valid prenuptial contract made in good faith by the parties.
(l) The fault of either party as specified in RSA 458:7 if said fault caused the breakdown of the marriage and:
(1) Caused substantial physical or mental pain and suffering; or
(2) Resulted in substantial economic loss to the marital estate or the injured party.
(m) The value of any property acquired prior to the marriage and property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.
(n) The value of any property acquired by gift, devise, or descent.
(o) Any other factor that the court deems relevant.
III. If either or both parties retain an ownership interest in an education savings account held on behalf of a child of the marriage, including a qualified tuition program under 26 U.S.C. Section 529, the court may, in its discretion, preserve the account for its original purpose or may treat the account as property of the marriage subject to equitable division under this section.
IV. The court shall specify written reasons for the division of property which it orders.
Source. 1987, 278:1. 2000, 178:1. 2004, 136:3, eff. May 19, 2004.
I. Upon the filing of an action under this chapter, the court shall issue an order restraining each party from selling, transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in any manner whatsoever disposing of any property, real or personal, belonging to either or both parties except:
(a) By written agreement of both parties;
(b) For reasonable and necessary expenses of living;
(c) In the ordinary and usual course of business;
(d) In the ordinary and usual course of investing; or
(e) By order of the court.
II. After the order is served, either party may file a written request with the clerk of the superior court for a hearing thereon. Such a hearing shall be held no later than 5 days after the request is received by the clerk for the county in which the petition for divorce, annulment or decree of nullity is filed.
Source. 1987, 278:1. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004.
Source. 1986, 163:7, eff. Jan. 1, 1987. 2007, 379:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2008; 379:11, eff. Jan. 1, 2008 at 12:01 a.m.
I. Upon motion of either party for alimony payments, the court shall make orders for the payment of alimony to the party in need of alimony, either temporary or permanent, for a definite or indefinite period of time, if the motion for alimony payments is made within 5 years of the decree of nullity or divorce and the court finds that:
(a) The party in need lacks sufficient income, property, or both, including property apportioned in accordance with RSA 458:16-a, to provide for such party’s reasonable needs, taking into account the style of living to which the parties have become accustomed during the marriage; and
(b) The party from whom alimony is sought is able to meet reasonable needs while meeting those of the party seeking alimony, taking into account the style of living to which the parties have become accustomed during the marriage; and
(c) The party in need is unable to be self-supporting through appropriate employment at a standard of living that meets reasonable needs or is allocated parental rights and responsibilities under RSA 461-A for a child of the parties whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the parent not seek employment outside the home.
II. Upon motion of either party, the court may make orders for the payment of an alimony allowance when such orders would be just and equitable.
III. Upon a decree of nullity or divorce, or upon the renewal, modification, or extension of a prior order for alimony, the court may order alimony to be paid for such length of time as the parties may agree or the court orders.
IV. (a) The court may make orders for alimony in a lump sum, periodic payments, or both.
(b) In determining the amount of alimony, the court shall consider the length of the marriage; the age, health, social or economic status, occupation, amount and sources of income, the property awarded under RSA 458:16-a, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties; the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income; the fault of either party as defined in RSA 458:16-a, II(l); and the federal tax consequences of the order.
(c) In determining amount and sources of income, the court shall not consider a minor child’s social security benefit payments or a second or subsequent spouse’s income. The court may consider veterans’ disability benefits collected by either or both parties to the extent permitted by federal law.
(d) The court may also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of their respective estates and the noneconomic contribution of each of the parties to the family unit.
(e) In any proceeding for modification of an existing alimony order, the earned or unearned income and social security disability payments of a spouse of the obligor party shall not be considered a source of income to that obligor party for the purpose of modification, unless the obligor party resigns from or refuses employment or is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, in which case the income of a subsequent spouse may be imputed to the obligor party only to the extent that such obligor party could have earned income in his or her usual employment. In such actions, the court may consider the veteran’s disability benefits of a spouse of the obligor party to the extent permitted by federal law.
V. The unanticipated consequences of changes in federal tax legislation or regulations may be grounds to modify any alimony order or agreement.
VI. The court shall specify written reasons for the granting or denial of any motion for an alimony allowance.
VII. In cases where the court issues an order for permanent alimony for a definite period of time, such order may be renewed, upon the petition of either party, provided that such petition is made within 5 years of the termination date of the permanent alimony order. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to change or alter in any way the terms of the original alimony order.
Source. RS 148:13. CS 157:13. GS 163:12. GL 182:12. PS 175:14. PL 287:16. 1937, 154:1. RL 339:16. RSA 458:19. 1981, 275:1. 1985, 175:1. 1987, 278:2. 1991, 123:1. 1996, 32:4, 5. 2000, 178:2, 3. 2001, 246:2, 3, eff. Jan. 1, 2002. 2005, 273:3, eff. Oct. 1, 2005.
Source. 1955, 262:4. 1979, 342:1. 2001, 222:3, eff. Sept. 9, 2001.
I. If the petitioner or respondent is a recipient of medical assistance under the state Medicaid program, the petitioner shall serve the department of health and human services with a copy of any petition for spousal support filed under this chapter.
II. The department of health and human services shall have the opportunity to address the court in any proceeding under this section if the court has concerns relative to:
(a) The impact on the recipient of any period of Medicaid ineligibility that would result from the allocation of income or assets;
(b) Whether the ward has been the victim of a crime or has been or is at risk of being abused, neglected, or exploited within the meaning of RSA 161-F:43; or
(c) The cost of the recipient’s care to be paid by Medicaid as the result of the proposed allocation of income or assets.
Source. 2011, 224:303, eff. July 1, 2011.
Source. RS 148:14. CS 157:14. GS 163:13. GL 182:13. PS 175:15. PL 287:17. RL 339:17. RSA 458:20. 1985, 175:2; 330:1. 1987, 278:3. 2004, 1:2, eff. Feb. 2, 2004. 2005, 273:4, eff. Oct. 1, 2005.
Source. RS 148:15. CS 157:15. GS 163:14. GL 182:14. PS 175:16. PL 287:18. RL 339:18. RSA 458:21. 1985, 175:3; 330:2, eff. Aug. 13, 1985.
Source. RS 148:11. CS 157:11. GS 163:10. GL 182:10. PS 175:7. 1925, 26:1. PL 287:20. RL 339:20.
Change of Name
Source. 1905, 7:1. PL 287:21. RL 339:21. RSA 458:24. 1969, 314:1. 1971, 445:4. 1996, 32:6. 1998, 53:2. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004.
Source. 1905, 7:2. PL 287:22. RL 339:22. 1949, 253:2. 2003, 319:74, eff. July 1, 2003.
I. In any case in which a divorce might be decreed, the superior court, on petition of either party, may decree a legal separation of the parties, which separation shall have in all respects the effect of a divorce, except that the parties shall not thereby be made free to marry any third person and except as hereinafter provided.
II. A person concerning whom a legal separation has been decreed may file a motion to amend the decree to one of divorce. The court may then consider whether justice requires that such a change be made, and, upon such consideration, the court may, in its discretion, grant such a motion.
Source. 1919, 68:1. PL 287:24. RL 339:24. RSA 458:26. 1971, 445:5. 1983, 334:1, eff. Aug. 17, 1983.
Source. 1909, 68:2. PL 287:25. RL 339:25. 2004, 114:3, eff. May 17, 2004. 2005, 273:5, eff. Oct. 1, 2005.
Source. 1909, 68:3. PL 287:26. RL 339:26.
Source. 1909, 68:4. PL 287:27. RL 339:27. 2005, 273:6, eff. Oct. 1, 2005.
Source. 1909, 68:5. PL 287:28. RL 339:28. 2003, 319:75, eff. July 1, 2003.
Orders for Support, etc.
Source. RS 149:1, 2. CS 158:1, 2. 1858, 2073:1. 1860, 2342:2. GS 164:2, 3, 17. GL 183:2, 3, 15. 1887, 24:1; 100:1; 103:1, 3. PS 176:4. 1907, 31:1. PL 287:29. RL 339:29. 1949, 240:2. RSA 458:31. 1963, 42:1. 1971, 445:6. 1999, 91:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2000.
Source. RS 149:1, 2. CS 158:1, 2. 1858, 2073:1. 1860, 2342:2. GS 164:2, 3, 17. GL 183:2, 3, 15. 1887, 24:1; 100:1; 103:1, 3. PS 176:4. 1907, 31:1. PL 287:30. RL 339:30.
Source. 1887, 103:2. PS 176:5. PL 287:32. RL 339:32. 1999, 91:2. 2004, 114:2, eff. May 17, 2004.
Source. 1985, 171:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.
Source. 1987, 278:4, eff. Jan. 1, 1988.