How To File
The divorce is filed with the SUPERIOR COURT in your county - see here
In your county, this is:
Merrimack Superior Court
163 North Main Street
P.O. Box 2880
Concord, NH 03302-2880
Clerk : William McGraw
Phone : (603) 225-5501
Hours : Monday - Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
You may contact them for more information on how to file. You may also see the link above for petitions, or, find petitions on sites like uslegalforms.com or usalegalresource.com.
If filing by hand, bring three copies to the clerk's filing window. Again, check with the clerk's office to find out where the filing window is located. A clerk will take your copies, typically one or two of them, and stamp the third and give it back to you as proof of filing. Fee is $205 for a divorce. If you are sending it by postal mail, send three identical copies of the petition, a filing fee (call ahead to find out what it is), and a self-addressed and pre-stamped envelope with your address so the district clerk can send you a stamped copy back. Include a one sheet cover letter on top of the petition copies to explain that you are filing.
The petition begins the divorce. Once you and your husband agree to the division (and if), you can contact the court and find out when the uncontested docket dates are - normally a few times a week. Then, one or both of you shows up on said time to get the divorce finalized.Cost
As stated, the cost is $205. It really does not cost more unless attorneys are involved.Division of Assets
Separate property is anything that was brought into the marriage, inherited, gifted, won in an award/settlement, or declared as such by a written agreement. This property is NOT party of the martial estate, and is divided and given to the party that had it.
The rest is the martial estate, or commonly known as community property
. New Hampshire is referred to as an "equitable distribution
" state. This means the community property would be divided fairly, but not necessarily 50/50, based on these factors: (1) The duration of the marriage. (2) The age, health, social or economic status, occupation, vocational skills, employability, separate property, amount and sources of income, needs and liabilities of each party. (3) The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income. (4) 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. (5) The need of the custodial parent, if any, to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects. (6) 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. (7) 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. (8) Any direct or indirect contribution made by one party to help educate or develop the career or employability of the other party (9) The expectation of pension or retirement rights acquired prior to or during the marriage. (10) 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. (11) The fault of either party a if said fault caused the breakdown of the marriage and: (12) The value of any property acquired prior to the marriage and property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage. (13) The value of any property acquired by gift, devise, or descent. (14) Any other factor that the court deems relevant. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:16)
Accrued or vested retirement benefits are community property. This means they need to be divided in a divorce. Retirement benefits that fall under community property include military pensions, veteran's educational benefits, ERISA funds, IRAs, Keoghs, Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPS), 401K and 403K plans, etc. Certain retirement benefits are not classified as community property. They include: Social Security payments, Compensation for military injuries, and Worker's compensation disability awards.
There are two options for dividing retirement benefits: (1) the present-day valuation buy-out, and (2) division into two accounts. In the former, the spouse without the retirement benefits takes the present-day value of his or her interest in the retirement benefit and trades it for something else of equal value, such as cash or other assets. Note - stock options and pension plans where a person must work for a certain number of years may be worth more than you think. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will be required to transfer a share of retirement funds from the spouse participating in the retirement plan to the other spouse, and is usually included in the final divorce papers.Of course, if both parties come to an agreement about marriage property regardless of the rules above, the Court will most likely endorse said agreement in interest of post-divorce harmony. The above rules only come into play if the parties cannot agree on splitting of assets.
It is also common for parties to agree to 95% of the split, but then ask the Court to make a decision in regards to the 5% that cannot be agreed upon. Pro Boo Leads
In case you need an attorney but cannot afford one, I can recommend three resources. First, here is a list of all pro bono work in the state...http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/directory/newhampshire.html
…and another list:http://www.lawhelp.org
Finally, you may call your local law school and see if they have a legal clinic place available. The legal clinic is a free service the school(s) provide to the community. While they are often overbooked, they have openings sometimes. Here is the list law schools in your state:http://www.hg.org/law-schools-new-hampshire.asp
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