New Hampshire Family Law Blog - Liberty Legal Services

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Parenting responsibilities and rights

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Parenting Responsibilities and Rights: Custody

When two parents are engaged in a contentious divorce, the usual victims of the crossfire are their children. Too frequently, we have observed warring parties who are unaware of how their behavior or conduct to or around one another can affect their children’s well-being.

Members of the New Hampshire state legislature have studied this problem extensively and have created new laws that are designed to assist parents in focusing on their needs of their offspring while simultaneously resolving their differences through their divorce proceedings. This new statute has been named RSA 461-A.

Under the former statute, issues surrounding child support, child custody, and child care were interspersed throughout different corners of the law, but this new statute gathers all of these different pieces of info about children into one centralized location.

For example, a new requirement in order to obtain a divorce when minor children are involved in the divorce proceedings is to create a legal document referred to as a “Parenting Plan”. A standard Parenting Plan is approximately 12 pages in length. Its presence is required at each temporary and final court hearings. This document’s intent is to force both parents to focus on the needs of their children and to encourage them to work together closely, in a cooperative fashion, to raise their children, regardless of what their personal differences might be. Exceptions to this new model can be made if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or assault present.

A Parenting Plan contends with issues of continuing and regular contact between both parents with their minor children. The new law has essentially removed the term “custody” from New Hampshire’s legal language based upon the observation that this word has created an undue amount of stress. Furthermore, there exists a perception that a parent who has “custody” has won something, and the parent who was not awarded custody has lost something. The phrase custody has been replaced with “parenting rights and responsibilities”.

There are numerous components to a Parenting Plan. If both parents are capable of agreeing on each of the contents contained within the Parenting Plan, then the final document is submitted to a New Hampshire family court at the same time as the final divorce agreement. If the parties cannot agree to all of the conditions and terms, then a legal hearing will be established and the form will be completed via a court order.

Even after your divorce has been finalized, you and your former spouse will continue to be parents for years to come, and it is in your best interests, and those of your children, to work cooperatively together.

Our NH family law attorneys have served clients throughout New Hampshire for years. With multiple offices located throughout the state, we can offer the assistance you require. Your initial consultation is 100% free, and anything that is discussed during this consultation will remain 100% confidential. We look forward to working with you in the future.