Even in the best situation, divorce is stressful and overwhelming. It doesn’t help that the rules, language, and processes change from state to state. Especially in New England, when separations may involve moving across state lines, knowing the specifics of divorce law in your state can help make the process go much more smoothly. Here are 5 things about divorce in New Hampshire that you might not know about:
1. You Don’t Have To “Serve” Divorce Papers
In many states, divorce papers from the Petitioner (the person asking for divorce) to the Respondent (their spouse) must be served by an approved official. While this is beneficial to those in tense divorce disputes, it can add tension to a more amicable split. In New Hampshire, you can also send papers by certified mail, or the Respondent can pick them up at court.
In addition, if you don’t have minor children, you can file jointly for divorce in New Hampshire. This means that the two spouses petition together to dissolve the marriage, rather than one spouse requesting a divorce.
2. “Grounds For Divorce” Can Be Complicated
Traditionally, fault was required for a divorce in most states. In New Hampshire, as in many states, you can now file for a “fault” or “no-fault” divorce. The latter is most common. Some may wish to file for an at-fault divorce, in particular if they are suing for full custody or making an unusual alimony request. However, an at-fault divorce can make the proceedings more difficult, lengthy, and expensive. For example, filing for divorce due to adultery requires that evidence of an affair and the name of the other person. This process can involve hiring private investigators and make personal aspects of the marriage more public.
If you think you might benefit from an at-fault divorce, be sure to speak to a lawyer right away to make sure you understand how it may affect the process.
3. Different Kinds Of Alimony Have Different Rules
In New Hampshire, there are two types of alimony. “Term alimony” refers to payments to help support one spouse due to financial hardship related to the marriage. “Reimbursement alimony” refers to payments to repay costs and/or debts incurred on behalf of the other partner during the marriage. These different forms of alimony have different rules in terms of when you can request them (you can request or adjust term alimony within five years of divorce) and how long they can last.
4. The Judge Can Determine How to Equitably Distribute Assets
Even if you and your spouse hold all assets jointly, New Hampshire does not require a 50/50 split of assets after the divorce. Generally, shorter marriages will aim to restore what each spouse brought to the marriage. Longer marriages (10+ years) will view assets as fully shared. However, there are many things that can affect this, such as future earning potential, child custody/support, and other statutory factors.
5. You Must Specifically Request A Name Change
In some states, changing your name after divorce is as easy as checking a box on the forms. In New Hampshire, if either or both spouses plan to resume the use of their pre-marital name, you must specifically request a Name Change Order. Also, you cannot change the name of a child as part of the divorce process.
Getting divorced can be stressful and difficult, but having legal help can make the process much smoother! If you’re considering divorce in New Hampshire, contact Bernstein & Mello today for a consultation!