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New Hampshire Divorce Laws


New Hampshire Divorce Laws


Both parties must be domiciled in the state when the action is commenced, and the filing spouse must be a resident for at least 1 year. All divorce petitions shall be brought in the county in which either party lives and before the superior court of that county. [Based on New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:5 and 458:9]


A divorce from the bonds of matrimony may be granted on the following grounds:

  • No Fault - Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
  • Fault - A divorce from the bonds of matrimony shall be decreed in favor of the innocent party for any of the following causes:
  1. Impotency of either party.
  2. Adultery of either party.
  3. Extreme cruelty of either party to the other.
  4. 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.
  5. When either party has so treated the other as seriously to injure health or endanger reason.
  6. When either party has been absent 2 years together, and has not been heard of.
  7. When either party is an habitual drunkard, and has been such for 2 years together.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

[Based on New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:7 and 458:7-a]


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. A person concerning whom a legal separation has been decreed may file a motion to amend the decree to one of divorce. [Based on New Hampshire Statutes - Chapter: 458:26]


In the event of any action the court shall, no later than the respondent's filing of an appearance, require the parties to attend a 4-hour information session. This session shall be a seminar on how to help the children deal with the issues surrounding divorce, separation, and the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. In all cases involving disputed parental rights and responsibilities or grandparents' visitation rights, including requests for modification of prior orders, the court may order the parties to participate in mediation.

Whenever, before or during a hearing but before a final decree, the court shall determine that there is a likelihood for rehabilitation of the marriage relationship, the court shall refer the parties to an appropriate counseling agency within its jurisdiction, which referral may be made according to RSA 167-B or as the parties request, with the approval of the court. If the court determines that there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation, the court shall continue the proceedings and require that both parties submit to marriage counseling.

[Based on New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458-D:2 , 458:7-b, and 461-A:7]


New Hampshire is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court tries to distribute property equitably between the parties. The court shall presume that an equal division is an equitable distribution of property, unless the court decides that an equal division would not be appropriate or equitable after considering one or more of the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age, health, social or economic status, occupation, vocational skills, employability, separate property, amount and sources of income, needs and liabilities of each party.
  • The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income.
  • 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.
  • The need of the custodial parent, if any, to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The expectation of pension or retirement rights acquired prior to or during the marriage.
  • The tax consequences for each party.
  • The value of property that is allocated by a valid prenuptial contract made in good faith by the parties.
  • 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.
  2. Resulted in substantial economic loss to the marital estate or the injured party.

[Based on New Hampshire Statutes - Chapter: 458:16-a]

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