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Divorce in New Hampshire - The Basics:

A divorce in New Hampshire is initiated by the filing of a Petition for Divorce in the appropriate Family Division for the town in which you live. Most of the time, the reason for divorce is "irreconcilable differences." This is a "no-fault" grounds for divorce that does not place blame on either spouse. It simply means that the spouses have grown apart, and their "differences" cannot be resolved to save the marriage. New Hampshire also has a list of "fault" grounds for divorce, including "adultery" and "extreme cruelty." If you allege that it is the other party's "fault" that you are filing for divorce, the divorce process will be more complicated and will take longer.

A divorce decree will result in a division of all of the marital assets and debts. The assets include all of the real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and retirement interests acquired during the marriage. The debts include things like loans, credit cards, and outstanding bills. Both the assets and the debts are required to be divided "equitably." Most of the time, an "equitable" division is an "equal" division, but there are exceptions to this general rule.

For example, if Jane and John Doe own a $250,000 house with an outstanding mortgage of $150,000, there is $100,000 in "equity" to be shared. In the divorce decree, if John is awarded the house, John may also be ordered by the Court to pay Jane $50,000 for her interest in the home. This is an "equal" division of the asset (50% of the equity), and it is presumed to be fair. If Jane had made a $10,000 down payment on the home from money she had in her personal bank account before the marriage, John might have to pay her $60,000 ($50,000 for her interest, and $10,000 for her additional contribution). This is an "equitable" distribution. It is not even, but it is fair, because Jane paid more than John toward the real estate.

The details of the divorce decree can either be worked out by negotiation between the two spouses or decided by the Court after hearing(s). An attorney can help you decide whether to begin the process by filing a Petition for Divorce, writing a proposal to negotiate a divorce decree with your spouse, or contacting a mediator.

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