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Divorce and Family Law in New Hampshire and Massachusetts

Whether you are considering filing for divorce or are already a party to a divorce proceeding, you want an attorney who knows the law and the process, but who also understands the emotional challenges you face. You want a lawyer who will work hard to alleviate the stress and anxiety you feel while taking all the steps to protect your rights.

At the Law Office of Richard E. Clark, LLC, we provide one-on-one advice to men and women throughout the New Hampshire seacoast and in Massachusetts who are involved in a divorce. We place a high priority on responsiveness, making certain we keep you fully informed of all developments in your case and answering your questions or concerns on a timely basis. We will work hard to negotiate a settlement, if doing so is in your best interests, but are also willing to take your case to trial to protect your rights.

Our Divorce and Family Law Practice

We represent men and women throughout the divorce process, from the initial filing through negotiated settlements or trial to post-judgment requests for modification or enforcement. We handle all matters arising out of divorce, including:

  • Child custody and visitation. We will help you work out custody and visitation arrangements that are in the best interests of your children. We will also seek to protect your role as a parent, ensuring that you get to participate in decisions about education, medical treatment and religious training.
  • Child support. We will review all proposed child support orders for compliance with state guidelines and to ensure that all relevant income is included in the calculation.
  • Spousal support or alimony. We will work with you to determine whether spousal support is necessary and, if so, how much should be paid and for how long.
  • Distribution of marital assets. We will assist you with the equitable distribution of marital property, including real estate, bank accounts and investments, retirement fund and business interests.

If you are planning to get married and are either bringing substantial assets into the marriage or have children by a previous marriage, we can help you protect those assets in the event of a divorce or separation. We will help you prepare and put in place a prenuptial agreement that specifies the division of property upon divorce or separation.

We also assist clients with legal separation agreements.

The New Hampshire Divorce Process

The rules and laws related to NH divorce change regularly. This is only a brief overview and not intended for legal reliance. You should retain an experienced NH divorce attorney and seek counsel for specifics associated with your case.

Before filing for divorce in New Hampshire, you must verify NH has jurisdiction. To qualify for a NH divorce you must meet one of three criteria:
1) both parties reside in New Hampshire,
2) the individual first to file for divorce (the Petitioner), has lived in NH for one year, or
3) the Petitioner lives in New Hampshire and the other recipient party (the Respondent) can be served with papers in NH.

An individual can file for divorce by completing the Petition for Divorce along with the Personal Data Sheet. The Court will notify the Respondent by mail. The recipient usually receives service of the Petition for Divorce by accepting the Divorce Petition at the Family Court. The filing may be served by certified mail, or Sheriff service.

New Hampshire divorce rules usually require a first set of initial disclosures called Rule 1.25-A. The deadlines to provide the Rule 1.25-A discovery must be adhered to. To be 1.25-A Rule compliant you should begin gathering the list of documents early in the proceeding. These disclosures will allow the parties to identify assets, valuations, property and allow the parties to split them. These documents are not filed with the Court. For more information on Rule 1.25-A, click here

The “First Appearance Session” is usually the first hearing after the divorce is filed. Lawyers do not appear with their clients for this hearing. During the First Appearance the judge or marital master will explain the divorce process and impact to children. If you have a minor child you should register for the Child Impact Program before the First Appearance. You must adhere to Child Impact Program deadlines.

Some of the most contested issues are child custody issues. Attorney Richard E. Clark argues custody cases before all NH Family Courts. He works with his clients and the opposing party to agree upon a NH Parenting Plan when possible. To get court ordered child support you must complete a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. In 2013, there were changes to the Child Support Guidelines which became effective July 1, 2013.

Court-ordered child support may be modified anytime by the person paying or receiving child support based on a substantial change in circumstances. If three years have passed since the last child support order was issued, either party may file a Petition to Change Court Order without the need to establish a substantial change in circumstances. Click the link above to see the form.

Some cases Attorney Clark handles require the use of a guardian ad litem(GAL) when the parents can't agree on a parenting plan for the party's children. Attorney Clark drafts and files the necessary motion seeking the Court to order a GAL to investigate and provide the Court with its findings. Attorney Clark addresses who is to pay for the GAL within his motion before the Court. The GAL is the child's advocate and will meet the child, parents, relevant friends and family. After this is completed the GAL will provide the Court with an interim or final written report with the GAL's findings and recommendations. The recommendations are used along with other evidence for the Court to determine the Final Custody arrangement.

Typically the first formal hearing is the Temporary Order Hearing. Don't be fooled by thinking it will have temporary implications. The Temporary Order that comes form the Temporary Hearing will be effective until the divorce is finalized or upon modification by the Court. This will address spousal support, alimony, who pays all existing bills, health insurance, bank accounts, child support, car use, who remains in the marital home, and other issues. The divorce video above explains the Temporary Order Hearing in further detail.

Every case is different. There are times Attorney Clark will use the assistance of a neutral third party, a mediator when it's appropriate. Sometimes the parties can limit issues or use a mediator list provided by Attorney Clark to finalize the matter. When the opposing party is acting unreasonable and mediation is not an option, Attorney Clark will argue divorce proceedings before the Court and have the judge decide the matter.

Child Impact Program

All parties involved in a divorce, or actions involving parental rights and responsibilities and child support are required by law to attend a CHILD IMPACT PROGRAM. This is a four-hour informational seminar on how to help children deal with issues surrounding divorce, separation and parental rights and responsibilities. The seminar provides strategies, ideas and tools for helping children. Parents may attend the course separately or together. For more information, visit our NH Child Impact Program page.

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