New Hampshire Family Court Rules
Complete New Hampshire Family Court Rules
These are the full and complete New Hampshire court rules taken from the official NH court website on December 26th, 2022. It has been formatted to fit on one page for easy printing and viewing.
These rules are not legal advice or and interpretation. You should consult an attorney to completely understand the risks of representing yourself in court or the courtroom without a lawyer, and this is not a recommendation to do so. Please see bellow information about finding an attorney in New Hampshire.
Finding a Lawyer in New Hampshire
Finding the right attorney to represent your case is not easy, or inexpensive. They are busy, may want to proceed in a way you do not, and typically charge between $250 and $300 an hour in New Hampshire, requiring a $5,000 retainer. This is my personal experience looking for a lawyer that practices Family Law in New Hampshire in 2022 and 2023.
There may be low cost and free options available for you in New Hampshire, if you qualify.
NH Family Court Rules
Rule 1.1 Scope and Application
These general provisions apply to all family division case types, unless otherwise stated. All references to “judge” include “marital master” unless otherwise stated. References in court rules to the judicial branch family division shall be deemed to include the circuit court – family division; references to the district court shall be deemed to include the circuit court – district division; and references to the probate court shall be deemed to include the circuit court – probate division.
Rule 1.2 Waiver of Rules
As good cause appears and as justice may require, the family division may waive the application of any rule, except where prohibited by law.
Rule 1.3 Fees
- The appropriate fee must accompany all filings. All fees shall be consolidated into a single payment, when possible.
- 18.22% of the entry fee paid in each petition and cross-petition in marital cases ($41.00) shall be deposited into the mediation and arbitration fund to be used to pay for mediation where both parties are indigent.
- (1) Original Entry of all Marital Matters, Parenting Petitions
(including Order of Notice and Guardian ad Litem Fee) and Foreign Decrees $225.00
(2) Cross Petition in all original entry Marital Matters and
Parenting Petitions $225.00
(3) Petition to Change Court Order in all Marital Matters and
(a) With full agreement $100.00
(b) Without full agreement $225.00
- (1) Divorce Certificate (VSR) only $10.00
(2) Divorce Certificate, Certified Copy of Decree and if applicable,
Agreement, QDRO, USO, and other Decree-related documents $40.00
- Petition for Ex Parte Attachment; Ex Parte Petition for Writ
of Trustee Process $40.00
- Reissued Orders of Notice $25.00
- Writ of Execution $40.00
- Petition for Termination of Parental Rights $155.00
- Petition for Guardian Minor Person $85.00
- Petition Change of Name (includes one certificate) $85.00
- Petition for Adoption, includes one certificate (no entry fee when accompanied by a Petition for termination) $125.00
- Motion for Successor Guardian of Person $50.00
- Marriage Waiver $75.00
- Surcharges and Additional Fees
(1) Pursuant to RSA 490:26-a, II, the sum of $25.00 shall be added to each civil filing fee set forth in paragraphs (C)(1), (C)(2), (C)(3), (H), (I), (J), (K) and (M) above, except for the following types of cases which pursuant to RSA 490:26-a, II(b) are exempt from the surcharge:
(a) Actions relating to children under RSA 169-B, RSA 169-C, and RSA 169-D.
(b) Domestic violence actions under RSA 173-B.
(2) On the commencement of any proceeding involving the determination of parental rights and responsibilities for which a fee is required, including petitions and cross-petitions for divorce with minor children, an additional fee of $2.00 shall be paid by the petitioner or cross-petitioner.
- OTHER FEES:
(1) Defaults in Minor Guardianship Actions $25.00/each occurrence
(2) Citations in Minor Guardianship Actions $50.00/each occurrence
(3) Duplicate Audio $25.00/each CD or download
(4) Application to Appear Pro Hac Vice $350.00
- CERTIFICATES & COPIES:
(1) Certificates $10.00
(2) Certification $10.00 plus copy fee
(3) All other copied material $.50/page
(4) Printing from court kiosks and
computer screen printouts $.25/page
(5) Certificate of Judgment $10.00
(6) Exemplification of Judgment $40.00
“Certificates & Copies” shall apply to individual requests for the above services, requests for additional certificates beyond those provided with the original entries and requests for additional copies beyond those provided with the original entry fees.
- The family division may waive any fee for good cause shown.
- Records Research Fees:
(1) Record information must be requested in writing and include the individual’s full name and, if available, the individual’s date of birth. A fee of $20 per name will be assessed for up to 5 names. Additional names will be assessed $5 per name.
(2) The Clerk may waive the records research fee when a request for record information is made by a member of the media consistent with the public’s right to access court records under the New Hampshire Constitution.
- Electronic Case Filing Surcharge
The sum of $20.00 shall be added to the filing fee set forth in paragraphs (J) and (M) above.
Rule 1.4 Open to the Public
Open to the Public: Hearings in the family division are open to the public unless otherwise specified by statute or order.
Rule 1.5 Courtroom Conduct
Courtroom Conduct: Any person addressing the Court or questioning a witness shall stand, unless excused by the Court. No person shall approach the bench without permission of the Court.
Rule 1.6 Recordings
Recordings: All hearings held in the courtroom shall be recorded electronically. Recordings need not be monitored unless a party files a formal request for a record and the trial judge determines that the procedures for monitor-less recordings will not adequately protect the record. In making this determination the Court should consider the quality of the recording device, the general sound quality of the courtroom, the nature of the proceedings, and the likelihood of a transcription request.
Rule 1.7 Clerk’s Office and Judge’s Chambers
Clerk’s Office and Judge’s Chambers:
- No petitioners, respondents, witnesses, police personnel, prosecutors, attorneys, or others shall be permitted into a Clerk’s office or judge’s chambers, except when necessary and as authorized by the Court.B. Official business should be transacted in an area set aside as being accessible to the public for that purpose.C. No person shall make any statement with regard to the merits of that person’s case, orally or in writing, to any judge in whose court or before whom any case is pending or to be heard except in open court or in the presence of all parties.D. Any person who shall make any such statement to any judge, except in open court or in the presence of all parties, may be subject to contempt proceedings under RSA 495:2.
Rule 1.8 Case Transfer
A. Any case filed in one family division location involving a family that has another active case filed at a different family division location may be transferred to a single location upon motion by any party or upon independent action of the family division. A party wishing to transfer such a case shall file a motion to transfer with the proposed family division location, with a copy to the original family division location. A transfer of the case will take place only upon mutual agreement of both family division locations.
B. Parties who have cases filed in both family division and non-family division locations may request that one case or the other be transferred so that both may be heard at the same location. Similarly, either Court may, on its own motion, recommend transfer. A transfer of the case will take place only upon mutual agreement of both Courts. The request to transfer shall be filed with the court from which the case will be transferred.
Rule 1.9 Multiple Case Filings
Multiple Case Filings:
A. In the event that two petitions for divorce, parenting, legal separation, or other action are filed involving the same parties but at different family division locations, the court shall transfer one case, considering the second case filed to be a cross-petition in the same action. In deciding which location will retain jurisdiction, the Court will consider, among other factors, convenience of the parties and witnesses and the timing of the filing of the respective petitions.
B. In the event two such petitions are filed involving the same parties, one in a family division location and one in a superior court, upon motion of either party or upon independent action of the Court, and upon consultation of the Courts, and upon consideration of such factors as convenience to the parties and witnesses, the cases shall be heard in a single location.
Rule 1.10 Recusal
Recusal: All grounds for recusal that are known or should reasonably be known prior to trial or hearing shall be incorporated in a written motion for recusal and filed promptly with the court. Grounds for recusal shall be immediately brought to the attention of the court. Failure to raise a basis for recusal shall constitute a waiver of the right to request recusal on such ground. If a record of the proceedings is not available, the Court shall make a record of the request, the Court’s findings, and its order. The Court’s ruling on the motion shall issue promptly. If the motion is denied, the Court’s ruling shall be supported by findings of fact with respect to the allegations contained in the motion.
Rule 1.11 Interpreters
Interpreters: If an objection is raised, no person who has assisted in the preparation of a case shall act as an interpreter at the hearing.
Rule 1.12 Scheduling
Scheduling: Parties are expected to attend court prepared to select dates for future hearings.
Rule 1.13 Computation and Extension of Time
Computation and Extension of Time: In computing any period of time, the day of the act, event, or default after which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period so computed shall be included, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, as specified in RSA 288, in which case the period shall extend until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday.
Rule 1.14 Guardians ad Litem
Guardians ad Litem:
A. Certification by the New Hampshire Guardian ad Litem Board (referred to in this rule as the “Board”) in superior, district and probate courts is encouraged to ensure adequate numbers of guardians ad litem who are qualified to serve in all categories of family division cases.
B. At a minimum, persons serving as guardians ad litem in the family division must be Board certified as follows:
(1) For appointment in family division cases of divorce, legal separation, parental rights and responsibilities, guardians ad litem must be Board-certified in the superior court.
(2) For appointment in family division cases of juvenile delinquency, children in need of services, and abuse and neglect, guardians ad litem must be Board certified in the district court.
(3) For appointment in family division cases of termination of parental rights, guardianship of minors, or adoption, guardians ad litem must be Board-certified in the probate court.
(4) For appointment in family division cases of domestic violence, guardians ad litem must be Board-certified in either superior or district court.
C. Untimely-filed Guardian ad Litem Reports.
(1) A guardian ad litem who, without good cause, fails to file a report required by any Court or statute by the date the report is due may be subject to a fine of not less than $100 and not more than the amount of costs and attorneys fees incurred by the parties to the action for the day of the hearing. The guardian ad litem shall not be subject to the fine under this rule if, at least ten (10) days prior to the date the report is due, the GAL files a motion requesting an extension of time to file the report. See RSA 490:26-g.
(2) The Clerk shall report to the Guardian ad Litem Board all guardians ad litem who fail to file a report by the date the report is due. However, the report shall clearly indicate all such guardians for whom the court has found good cause for the late filing. The Clerk shall make such report available to the public.
Rule 1.15 Recommendations;/Ex Parte Orders
Recommendations/Ex Parte Orders: Recommendations of marital masters may be approved in person, by facsimile transmission, by telephone or electronically. Such recommendations may be approved by any judge of the state, regardless of whether they are specially designated as family division judges. Any judge of the state may issue emergency orders for family division cases in person, by telephone, by facsimile transmission or electronically. All such orders shall be transmitted to the appropriate family division location upon execution. See RSA 490-D:9.
Rule 1.16 Appearances
Appearances: A lawyer intending to represent a party must file a written Appearance.
Rule 1.17 Special Appearances
Special Appearances: Special Appearances shall be deemed general thirty (30) days after the return day of the action, unless a special plea or motion to dismiss is filed within that time.
Rule 1.18 Non-Lawyer Representatives
- No person who is not a lawyer will be permitted to appear, plead, prosecute or defend an action for any party, other than the person’s own case, unless of good character and until there is on file with the court:
(1) A power of attorney signed by the party for whom the person seeks to appear, witnessed and acknowledged before a Justice of the Peace or Notary Public, authorizing this person to appear in the particular action; and
(2) An affidavit in which the person discloses:
(a) all misdemeanor and felony convictions (other than those in which a record of the conviction has been annulled by statute),
(b) all instances in which the person has been found by any court to have violated a court order or any provision of the rules of professional conduct applicable to non-lawyer representatives,
(c) all prior proceedings in which the person has been permitted to appear, plead, prosecute or defend any action for any party, other than himself, in any court,
(d) all prior proceedings in which the person has not been permitted to appear, plead, prosecute or defend any action for any party, other than himself or herself in any court, and
(e) all prior proceedings in which the person’s permission to appear, plead, prosecute or defend any action for any party, other than himself or herself, in any court, has been revoked.
- Any person who is not a lawyer who is permitted to represent any other person before any court of this State must comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct as set forth in Professional Conduct Rule 8.5, and shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Committee on Professional Conduct.
Rule 1.19 Limited Representation by Attorneys
Limited Representation By Attorneys:
- Limited Appearance. To the extent permitted by Rule 1.2 of the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney providing limited representation to an otherwise unrepresented litigant may file a limited appearance on behalf of such unrepresented party. The limited appearance shall state precisely the scope of the limited representation, and the attorney’s involvement in the matter shall be limited only to what is specifically stated. The requirements of Family Division Rule 1.24 shall apply to every pleading and motion signed by the limited representation attorney. An attorney who has filed a limited appearance and who later files a pleading or motion outside the scope of the limited representation shall be deemed to have amended the limited appearance to extend to such filing. An attorney who signs a writ, petition, counterclaim, cross-claim or any amendment which is filed with the court, will be considered to have filed a general appearance and for the remainder of that attorney’s involvement in the case, shall not be considered as a limited representation attorney under these rules; provided, however, if such attorney properly withdraws from the case and the withdrawal is allowed by the Court, the attorney could later file a limited appearance in the same matter.
- Pleadings Prepared for Unrepresented Party. When an attorney provides limited representation to an otherwise unrepresented party, by drafting a document to be filed by such party with the court in a proceeding in which:
(1) the attorney is not entering any appearance, or
(2) the attorney has entered a limited appearance which does not include representation regarding such document, the attorney is not required to disclose the attorney’s name on such pleading to be used by that party; any pleading drafted by such limited representation attorney, however, must conspicuously contain the statement “This pleading was prepared with the assistance of a New Hampshire attorney.” The unrepresented party must comply with this required disclosure. Notwithstanding that the identity of the drafting attorney need not be required to be disclosed under this rule, by drafting a pleading to be used in court by an otherwise unrepresented party, the limited representation attorney shall be deemed to have made those same certifications as set forth in Family Division Rule 1.24 despite the fact the pleading need not be signed by the attorney.
- Automatic Termination of Limited Representation. Any limited representation appearance filed by an attorney, as authorized under Professional Conduct Rule 1.2(f)) and Family Division Rule 1.19, shall automatically terminate upon completion of the agreed representation, without the necessity of leave of Court, provided that the attorney shall provide the court a “withdrawal of limited appearance” form giving notice to the court and all parties of the completion of the limited representation and termination of the limited appearance. Any attorney having filed a limited appearance who seeks to withdraw prior to the completion of the limited representation stated in the limited appearance, however, must comply with Family Division Rule 1.20.
Rule 1.20 Withdrawal and New Representation
- Subject to limited representation under Family Division Rule 1.19, Rule 3.12 relating to the withdrawal of appointed counsel in Juvenile Delinquency matters and subject to Professional Conduct Rule 1.2(f), an attorney may withdraw at any time unless a hearing or trial is scheduled within 60 days. If a hearing or trial is scheduled within 60 days, an attorney must file a motion to withdraw.B. Any motion to withdraw filed by counsel shall clearly set forth the reason for the request and contain a certification that copies have been sent to all other counsel or opposing parties, if appearing pro se, and to counsel’s client at the client’s last known address, which shall be fully set forth within the body of the motion. A factor which may be considered by the Court in determining whether good cause for withdrawal has been shown is the client’s failure to meet the financial obligations to pay for the attorney’s services. Notice by mail shall be sent to all counsel of record, or parties if unrepresented by counsel, and to the client of withdrawing counsel, at the client’s last known address.C. Upon receipt of a motion to withdraw and any related objections, the court will give the motion and any objections expedited consideration, rule upon the motion to withdraw, or schedule a hearing as promptly as the docket allows. If withdrawing counsel’s client fails to appear at said hearing, the Court may, in its discretion, and without further notice to said client, grant the withdrawal, order the hearing date continued, or make such other orders as justice may require.
Rule 1.21 Pro Hac Vice Representation
Pro Hac Vice Representation:
- An attorney who is not a member of the Bar of this State (a “Nonmember Attorney”) who wishes to participate in any hearing must file an application to appear pro hac vice. The application shall contain the following information:
(1) The applicant’s residence and business address;
(2) The name, address and phone number of each client sought to be represented;
(3) The courts before which the applicant has been admitted to practice and the respective period(s) of admission;
(4) Whether the applicant:
(a) has been denied admission pro hac vice in this State;
(b) had admission pro hac vice revoked in this State; or
(c) has otherwise formally been disciplined or sanctioned by any court in this State. If so, the applicant shall specify the nature of the allegations; the name of the authority bringing such proceedings; the caption of the proceedings; the date filed; and what findings were made and what action was taken in connection with those proceedings;
(5) Whether any formal, written disciplinary proceeding has ever been brought against the applicant by any disciplinary authority in any other jurisdiction within the last five years and, as to each such proceeding: the nature of the allegations; the name of the person or authority bringing such proceedings; the date the proceedings were initiated and finally concluded; the style of the proceedings; and the findings made and actions taken in connection with those proceedings;
(6) Whether the applicant has been formally held in contempt or otherwise sanctioned by any court in a written order in the last five years for disobedience to its rules or orders, and, if so: the nature of the allegations; the name of the court before which such proceedings were conducted; the date of the contempt order or sanction, the caption of the proceedings, and the substance of the court’s rulings (a copy of the written order or transcript of the oral rulings shall be attached to the application); and
(7) The name and address of each court or agency and a full identification of each proceeding in which the applicant has filed an application to appear pro hac vice in this State within the preceding two years; the date of each application; and the outcome of the application.
(8) In addition, unless this requirement is waived by the family division, the verified application shall contain the name, address, telephone number and bar number of an active member in good standing of the Bar of this State (the “In-State Attorney”) who will be associated with the applicant and present at any hearing. However, presence of New Hampshire Bar member may be waived by the Court.
- The Court has discretion to grant applications for admission pro hac vice. An application ordinarily should be granted unless the Court finds reason to believe that:
(1) such admission may be detrimental to the prompt, fair and efficient administration of justice;
(2) such admission may be detrimental to legitimate interests of parties to the proceedings other than the client(s) the applicant proposes to represent;
(3) one or more of the clients the applicant proposes to represent may be at risk of receiving inadequate representation and cannot adequately appreciate that risk; or
(4) the applicant has engaged in such frequent appearances as to constitute common practice in this State.
- When a Nonmember Attorney appears for a client in a proceeding pending in this state, either in the role of co-counsel of record with the In-State Attorney, or in an advisory or consultative role, the In-State Attorney who is co-counsel or counsel of record for that client in the proceeding remains responsible to the client and responsible for the conduct of the proceeding before the court or agency. It is the duty of the In-State Attorney to advise the client of the In-State Attorney’s independent judgment on contemplated actions in the proceeding if that judgment differs from that of the Nonmember Attorney.
- An applicant for permission to appear pro hac vice shall pay a non-refundable fee as set forth in Circuit Court – Family Division Rule 1:3; provided that not more than one application fee may be required per Nonmember Attorney for consolidated or related matters regardless of how many applications are made in the consolidated or related proceedings by the Nonmember Attorney; and further provided that the requirement of an application fee may be waived to permit pro bono representation of an indigent client or clients, in the discretion of the court.
Rule 1.22 Testimony of Attorney or Witness
Testimony of Attorney or Witness:
- No attorney shall be compelled to testify in any case unless provided with five (5) days’ written notice.
- Witness Testimony: Witnesses may appear voluntarily on behalf of any party, or may be compelled to appear through the subpoena procedures set forth in RSA 516, et seq.
Rule 1.23 Pleadings
- Copies of all pleadings filed and communications addressed to the court shall be provided to all other counsel or to the opposing party if appearing pro se. When an attorney has filed a limited appearance under Family Division Rule 1.19 A, copies of pleadings filed and communications addressed to the court shall be furnished both to the opposing party who is receiving the limited representation and to the limited representation attorney. After the limited representation attorney files that attorney’s “withdrawal of limited appearance” form, as provided in Family Division Rule 1.19 C, no further service need be made upon that attorney. All such pleadings and communications shall contain a statement of compliance with this rule.
- A no contact order in a domestic violence, stalking, or similar matter shall not be deemed to prevent either party from filing appearances, motions, and other appropriate pleadings with the court. At the request of the party filing the pleading, the court shall forward a copy of the pleading to the party or counsel on the other side of the case. Furthermore, the no contact provisions shall not be deemed to prevent contact between counsel when both parties are represented.
- In any case when all parties are represented by lawyers, all parties’ counsel may agree that pleadings filed and communications addressed to the court may be furnished to all other counsel by email. An agreement may be filed with the court by stipulation. Such agreement shall list the email address(es) at which counsel agrees to be served. The email header shall include the caption of the case and its docket number. Pleadings and communications furnished in accordance with this rule shall be attached to the email in .PDF file format. Documents so furnished may have on their signature lines a copy of counsel’s signature, a facsimile thereof, “/s/ [counsel’s name]” as used in the federal ECF system, or similar notation indicating the document was signed.
Rule 1.24 Pleading Requirements
- All pleadings and the appearance and withdrawal of counsel shall be signed by the attorney of record or an associate or by a pro se party. Names, addresses, New Hampshire Bar identification numbers, and telephone numbers shall be typed or stamped beneath all signatures on papers to be filed or served. No attorney or pro se party will be heard until an appearance is properly filed.
- (1) In Cases Not Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has not been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, the signature of an attorney, or a party under oath, constitutes a certificate that the pleading has been read by the person signing the document; that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information and belief there is good ground to support it; and that it is not filed for delay. If a pleading is not signed, or is signed with an intent to defeat this rule, it may be stricken and the action may proceed as though the pleading had not been filed.
(2) In Cases Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, the signature of an attorney or a party constitutes a certificate that the pleading has been read by the person signing the document; that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information and belief there is good ground to support it; and that it is not filed for delay. If a pleading is not signed, or is signed with an intent to defeat this rule, it may be stricken and the action may proceed as though the pleading had not been filed.
- (1) In Cases Not Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has not been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, no exhibits shall be attached to pleadings unless necessary to support an affidavit.
(2) In Cases Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing program has been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, no exhibits shall be attached to pleadings unless necessary to support the factual allegation(s) contained within a pleading.
- If either party changes attorneys during the pendency of the action, the name of the new attorney shall be entered on the docket. Whenever the attorney of a party withdraws an appearance, and no other appearance is entered, the Clerk shall notify the party by mail of such withdrawal. If the party fails to appear by himself or attorney by a date fixed by the court, the Court may take such action as justice may require.
Rule 1.25 Discovery
- General. Unless specified in another section of these rules, these discovery rules apply in all family division case types. The Court, in its discretion, may limit or expand the scope of discovery in any case as justice requires.
- Discovery Methods. Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things; permission to enter upon land or other property for inspection and other purposes; physical or mental examinations; and requests for admission. Unless the Court orders otherwise, or unless otherwise provided in these rules, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited.
- Scope of Discovery. Unless otherwise ordered, parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not grounds for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
- Expert Witnesses.
(1) Within thirty (30) days of a request by the opposing party, or in accordance with an order of the Court, a party shall be required to supply a Disclosure of Expert Witness(es) as defined under Rule 702 of the Rules of Evidence, which document shall:
(a) identify each person, including any party, whom the party expects to call as an expert witness at trial;
(b) provide a brief summary of the expert’s education and experience relevant to the expert’s area of expertise;
(c) state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify; and
(d) state a summary of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion.
The party shall attach to the disclosure a copy of any expert report relating to such expert.
(2) A party may discover facts known or opinions held by an expert, who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial, only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party seeking discovery to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.
(3) Unless manifest injustice would result, (i) the Court shall require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discovery under subdivisions 1.25 D (1) and 1.25 D (2) of this rule, and (ii) with respect and with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision 1.25 (D) (2), the Court shall require the party seeking discovery to pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert.
- Written Interrogatories.
(1) General. Any party may serve written interrogatories upon any other party, by mail or delivery by hand.
The parties may agree to transmit interrogatories electronically or by computer disk, enabling the answering party to provide answers directly after each separate question using the party’s available word processing technology.
Interrogatories may include any topic not subject to privilege. Furthermore, it is not grounds for refusal to answer a question that the testimony would be inadmissible at the hearing, if the testimony sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and does not violate any privilege.
(2) Notice. The party requesting the interrogatories shall provide the other party with notice of the obligation to answer the interrogatories within thirty (30) days. The notice shall be at the top of the first page and printed in capital, typewritten letters or in ten-point, bold-face print. The form of the notice shall be as follows:
Notice: These interrogatories are propounded in accordance with Family Division Rule 1.25. You must answer each question separately and fully in writing and under oath. You must return the original and one copy of your answers within thirty (30) days of the date you received them to the party or attorney who served them upon you. If you object to any question, you must note your objection and state the reason for your objection. If you fail to return your answers within thirty (30) days, the party who served them upon you may inform the court, and the Court shall make such orders as justice requires, including the entry of a conditional default against you.
Interrogatories may be served at any time after service of the action.
(3) Copies. The party serving the interrogatories shall furnish the answering party with an original and two copies. The interrogatories shall be arranged so that after each separate question space will be provided to enable the answering party to respond.
(4) Answers. Interrogatories shall be answered in writing under oath by the party upon whom served, if an individual, or, if a public or private corporation, a partnership or association, by an officer or agent who shall furnish all information available to the party.
Each question shall be answered separately, fully and responsively, such that the final document shall have each interrogatory immediately followed by its answer.
The party served with interrogatories shall provide the original and one copy of the answers, by mail or delivery in hand, to the party requesting them within thirty (30) days of receipt of the interrogatories. If, in any interrogatory, a copy of a paper or document is requested, only one copy need be included with the answers. If the copy is a report of an expert witness or a treating physician, it shall be the exact copy of the entire report or reports rendered by him, and the answering party shall certify that the existence of other reports of that expert, either written or oral, are unknown to the answering party and, if such become later known or available, the answering party shall serve them promptly on the requesting party.
(5) Extension of Deadlines. The parties may extend interrogatory deadlines by written agreement, provided any such extension is not inconsistent with discovery orders of the Court.
(6) Objections, Motions to Compel, Motions to Strike. If a party objects to any questions, that party may either answer the question by stating it is improper or may, within twenty (20) days after the service of interrogatories, move to strike any question, setting out the specific grounds of objection. The answering party shall make timely answer, however, to all questions to which that party does not object. All other interrogatories shall nonetheless be answered within the thirty days allowed, or within such time as the Court directs.
The party requesting the interrogatories who receives a response that one or more questions are improper, may within twenty (20) days, move to compel answer(s) to the question(s), and, if the motion is granted, the question(s) shall be answered within such time as the Court directs.
If a party, who is served with interrogatories requesting copies of papers, objects to furnishing them, that party may either state with specificity the reasons for non-compliance or invite the party seeking the copies to inspect and copy the papers at a designated time and place. The party seeking a copy of a paper which is not provided may within twenty (20) days of receipt of the answers file a motion seeking compliance.
Motions to strike interrogatories or to compel more specific answers shall include a statement summarizing the nature of the action and shall include the text of the questions and answers, if any, objected to.
When objections are made to interrogatories or requests for admissions, before there is any hearing regarding the objections, counsel for the parties shall attempt in good faith to settle the objections. It shall be the responsibility of counsel for the objecting party to initiate such attempt and to notify the Clerk if the objections are settled. If, following such conference, counsel are unable to settle objections, counsel for the objecting party shall notify the Clerk and request a hearing.
Where an objection to an interrogatory has been withdrawn or has been overruled by the Court, the answer to the interrogatory shall be provided within ten (10) days.
(7) Frivolous Motions. If the Court finds that a motion, which is made pursuant to this rule, was made frivolously or for the purpose of delay or was necessitated by action of the adverse party that was frivolous or taken for the purpose of delay, the Court may order the offending party to pay the amount of reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred by the other party in making or resisting the motion.
(8) Limitations on Number of Interrogatories. A party may file more than one set of interrogatories to an adverse party, but the total number of interrogatories shall not exceed fifty (50), unless the Court otherwise orders for good cause shown after the proposed additional interrogatories have been filed. In determining what constitutes an interrogatory for the purpose of applying this limitation in number, it is intended that each question be counted separately, whether it is subsidiary or incidental to or dependent upon or included in another question, and however the questions may be grouped, combined or arranged.
The other party shall have the same privileges in answering written interrogatories as the deponent in the taking of a deposition.
(9) Supplementation of Responses. If a party, who has furnished answers to interrogatories, thereafter obtains information which renders such answers incomplete or inaccurate, amended answers shall be served in accordance with Family Division Rule 1.25 J.
(10) Use of Interrogatories. Interrogatories and answers may be used at the hearing to the same extent as depositions. If less than all of the interrogatories and answers are marked or read into evidence by a party, an adverse party may read into evidence any other of the interrogatories and answers or parts necessary for a fair understanding of the parts read into evidence.
Neither the interrogatories nor the answers need be filed with the Clerk unless the Court so directs.
(11) Failure to Answer. If the party, upon whom interrogatories have been served, fails to answer the interrogatories within thirty (30) days, unless written objection to the answering of the interrogatories is filed within that period, such failure will result in a conditional default being entered by the Clerk upon motion being filed indicating such failure to answer. The party failing to answer shall receive notice of the conditional default. The conditional default shall be vacated if the defaulted party answers the interrogatories within ten (10) days of receiving notice and moves to strike the conditional default. If the defaulted party fails to move to strike the conditional default within ten (10) days of receiving notice, the adverse party may move to have a default judgment entered and damages assessed. If, upon review of an affidavit of damages, the Court determines that it does not provide a sufficient basis for determining damages, the Court may, upon its own motion, order a hearing.
- Request for Admissions
(1) Any party may ask the other to admit certain facts or the genuineness of documents or signatures by submitting a request for admissions with the court. If the request for admissions seeks the admission of the genuineness of documents or signatures, the documents and/or signatures shall be attached to the request. Copies of the complete request as filed with the court shall be delivered by mail or in hand to the other party.
(2) Each of the matters of which an admission is requested shall be considered to be admitted unless within 30 days after delivery of the request to the other party, the other party files with the clerk and delivers a copy by mail or in hand to the party requesting such admission, or to that party’s attorney, either a sworn denial or a written objection on the ground of privilege or that the request is otherwise improper. If an objection is made to part of a request, the remainder shall be answered within the time limit. When good faith requires that a party qualify an answer, or deny only part of the matter, the party shall specify so much of the answer as is true, or qualify or deny the remainder.
Notice shall be provided to any person whose deposition is requested. Twenty (20) days notice is considered reasonable in all cases, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
Every notice of a deposition to be taken within the State shall contain the name of the stenographer/professional proposed to record the testimony.
When a statute requires formal notice of the taking of depositions to be given to the adverse party, it may be given to such party or the party’s attorney of record. Notices given pursuant to this rule may be given by mail or by service in hand. See RSA 517 et seq. If a subpoena duces tecum is to be served on the deponent, the notice to the adverse party must be served before service of the subpoena, and the materials designated for production, as set out in the subpoena, must be listed in the notice or in an attachment.
The questions and answers shall be taken in shorthand or other form of verbatim reporting approved by the Court and transcribed by a competent stenographer/professional agreed upon by the parties or their attorneys. In the absence of such agreement, the stenographer/professional shall be designated by the Court. Failure to object in writing to a stenographer in advance of the taking of a deposition shall be deemed agreement to the stenographer/professional recording the testimony.
No deposition, as transcribed, shall be changed or altered, but any alleged errors may be set forth in a separate document attached to the original and copies.
Upon motion, the Court may order the filing of depositions, and, upon failure to comply with such order, the Court may take such action as justice may require.
The signature of a person outside the State, acting as an officer legally empowered to take depositions or affidavits, with an appropriate seal affixed, where one is required, to the certificate of an oath administered by him in the taking of affidavits or depositions, will be prima facie evidence of this person’s authority.
The person being deposed shall ordinarily be required to answer all questions not subject to privilege or excused by the statute relating to depositions, and it is not grounds for refusal to answer a particular question that the testimony would be inadmissible at the trial if the testimony sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and does not violate any privilege.
If any person being deposed refuses to answer any question asked in the deposition, the party asking the question may request an order of the Court compelling an answer. If the motion is granted, and if the Court finds that the refusal was without substantial justification or was frivolous or unreasonable, the Court may, and ordinarily will, require the person deposed and the party or attorney advising the refusal, or either of them, to pay the examining or requesting party the reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, including reasonable attorneys fees. If the motion is denied and if the Court finds that the motion was made without substantial justification or was frivolous or unreasonable, the Court may, and ordinarily will, require the examining party or the attorney advising the motion, or both of them, to pay to the witness the reasonable expenses incurred in opposing the motion, including reasonable attorneys fees.
- Use of Videotape Depositions.
The Court, within its discretion, may allow the use of videotape depositions that have been taken by agreement; and provided further that, if the parties cannot reach such an agreement, the Court may, in its discretion, order the taking and/or use of such depositions. At the commencement of the videotape deposition, counsel representing the person deposed should state whose deposition it is, what case it is being taken for, where it is being taken, who the lawyers are that will be asking the questions, and the date and the time of the deposition. Care should be taken to have the witnesses speak slowly and distinctly and that papers be readily available for reference without undue delay and unnecessary noise. Counsel and witnesses shall comport themselves at all times as if they were actually in the courtroom.
If any problem arises as to the admissibility or inadmissibility of evidence, this should be handled in the same manner as written interrogatories.
A party objecting to a question asked of, or an answer given by, a witness whose testimony is being taken by videotape shall provide the court at the pretrial conference with a transcript of the videotape proceedings that is sufficient to enable the Court to act upon the objection before the hearing, or the objection shall be deemed waived.
- Limits on Discovery. Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the Court may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:
(1) that the discovery not be had;
(2) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place;
(3) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery;
(4) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters;
(5) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the Court;
(6) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the Court;
(7) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; and
(8) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the Court.
If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the Court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery.
- Supplementation of Responses. A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when made is under a continuing duty to supplement responses to include information thereafter acquired, as follows:
(1) A party is under a duty to supplement responses concerning any question regarding the identity:
(a) and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters; and
(b) of each person expected to be called as an expert witness, the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and the substance of the testimony.
(2) A party is under a duty to amend a prior response if it is known that the response:
(a) was incorrect when made; or
(b) though correct when made, is no longer true.
- Discovery Deadlines. The discovery dates established at a scheduling conference or other hearing are Court orders and may not be extended by the parties without written permission of the Court.
- Abuse of Discovery. The Court, in its discretion, may sanction any party including through the use of fees and costs, for abusing the discovery process.
Rule 1.25-A Mandatory Initial Self Disclosure:
This Mandatory Initial Self Disclosure Rule applies to all new actions in the family division for divorce, legal separation, annulment, or civil union dissolution. For parenting or child support petitions, or petitions to enforce or change court orders in parenting, divorce, legal separation, or civil union dissolution cases in the family division, sections B (1) (g) through (l) shall not apply.
This rule applies to parties engaged in mediation or other alternative dispute resolution processes once the petition invoking court involvement has been served/delivered. Parties involved in alternative dispute resolution before filing are not bound by the rule until they initiate court action.
B. INITIAL DISCLOSURES.
1. Except as otherwise agreed by the parties or ordered by the Court, each party shall deliver the following documents to the other no later than the earlier of (i) forty-five (45) days from the date of service/delivery of the petition or (ii) ten (10) days prior to the temporary hearing or initial hearing on the petition, not including the First Appearance required by rule 2.11:
(a) A current financial affidavit in the format required by family division rule 2.16, including the monthly expense form.
(b) The past three (3) years’ personal and business federal and state income tax returns and partnership and corporate returns for any non-public entity in which either party has an interest, together with all tax return schedules, including but not limited to W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, K-1s, Schedule C, Schedule E and any other schedules filed with the IRS.
(c) The four (4) most recent pay stubs (or equivalent documentation) from each current employer, and the year-end pay stub (or equivalent documentation) for the calendar year that concluded prior to the filing of the action.
(d) For business owners or self-employed parties, all monthly, quarterly and year-to-date financial statements to include profit and loss, balance sheet and income statements for the year in which the action was filed; and all year-end financial statements for the calendar year that concluded prior to the filing of the action.
(e) Documentation confirming the cost and status of enrollment of employer provided medical and dental insurance coverage for:
- The party,
- The party’s spouse, and
- The party’s dependent child(ren).
(f) For the twelve (12) months prior to the filing of the action, any credit, loan and/or mortgage applications, or other sworn statement of assets and/or liabilities, prepared by or on behalf of either party.
(g) For the twelve (12) months prior to the filing of the action, documentation related to employee benefits such as but not limited to stock options, retirement, pension, travel, housing, use of company car, mileage reimbursement, profit sharing, bonuses, commissions, membership dues, or any other payments to or on behalf of either party.
(h) For the twelve (12) months prior to the filing of the action, statements for all bank accounts held in the name of either party individually or jointly, or any business owned by either party, or in the name of another person for the benefit of either party, or held by either party for the benefit of the parties’ minor child(ren).
(i) For the twelve (12) months prior to the filing of the action, statements for all financial assets, including but not limited to all investment accounts, retirement accounts, securities, stocks, bonds, notes or obligations, certificates of deposit owned or held by either party or held by either party for the benefit of the parties’ minor child(ren), 401K statements, individual retirement account (IRA) statements, and pension-plan statements.
(j) For the twelve (12) months prior to the filing of the action, any and all life insurance declaration pages, beneficiary designation forms and the most recent statements of cash, surrender and loan value.
(k) For the six (6) months prior to the filing of the action, statements for all credit cards held by either party, whether individually or jointly.
(l) Any written prenuptial or written postnuptial agreements signed by the parties.
2. The parties may redact all but the last four (4) digits of any account numbers and social security numbers that appear on any statements or documents.
3. The parties shall promptly supplement all disclosures as material changes occur while the action is pending.
4. A party may seek a protective order for information disclosed in response to these mandatory disclosures. Protective orders will ordinarily be available upon request. In the event of a dispute concerning the need for a protective order, the party seeking the order shall file a motion requesting that the Court conduct an in camera review of the materials in dispute. The Court will review the materials and determine if a protective order is necessary. From the date of the filing of the motion until such ruling, the materials shall be produced, but shall be disclosed by the parties only to their attorneys, staff, experts/consultants, in court, and as otherwise necessary in connection with the pending action. Materials submitted for in camera review shall be sealed in the Court’s file until the Court determines the necessity of a protective order. If a protective order is issued, the Court shall seal the exhibits submitted in connection with the request for the protective order that remain in the Court’s file.
C. UNAVAILABILITY OF DOCUMENTS.
1. In the event that either party does not have any or all of the documents required under this rule or has not been able to obtain them, that party shall state in writing, under oath, the specific documents which are not available, the reasons the documents are not available, and the efforts made by the party to obtain the documents. A statement of unavailability under this provision does not limit the filing party’s duty to supplement disclosures and provide the other party with documentation as it becomes available.
- When a statement of unavailability is filed or when it otherwise becomes apparent that documents required by this rule are unavailable, the party seeking the documents may prepare and submit to the other party appropriate authorizations or releases enabling the seeking party to retrieve the documents from their source. Upon receipt of such a release or authorization the party to whom documents were unavailable shall execute and immediately return to the seeking party the release or authorization. The seeking party may use the authorization or release to retrieve the unavailable documents covered by this rule, initially at their own expense, but that expense may be reallocated upon motion or at the final hearing/
D. FAILURE TO PROVIDE INITIAL DISCLOSURES.
1. Unless and until a party provides Initial Disclosures as required by section B and C above, the Court may impose sanctions, including, but not limited to prohibiting that party from: (a) introducing into evidence any document which was required under section B or C of this rule; (b) testifying or making an offer of proof regarding information or subject matter which is likely to be contained in or referred to in section documents required by section B and C; (c) filing requests for discovery as allowed under the family division rules; or (d) filing any discovery motions.
- If a party’s failure to provide Initial Disclosures prejudices access of a compliant party to requested substantive relief, such as the calculation and receipt of child support, the Court may, in addition to other sanctions, address the relief requested by the compliant party on the basis of reasonable estimates and assumptions, at least until such time as the documents are produced.
E. ADDITIONAL DISCOVERY.
If a party is in compliance with section B and C of this rule, that party may request further information as allowed under family division rules. This rule is not intended to limit the scope of discovery as provided under family division rule 1.25.
F. COURT ORDERED COMPLIANCE
Notwithstanding any agreement by the parties for limited applicability, the Court may, at any time, order full compliance with this rule.
Rule 1.26 Motions
- (1) In Cases Not Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing program has not been implemented (corrected by Editor), see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, parties may not address written communications directly to the judge. All requests shall be by properly filed motion with certification of delivery of a copy of the motion to the other party, unless jointly filed. No exhibits shall be attached to motions unless necessary to support an affidavit.
(2) In Cases Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, parties may not address written communications directly to the judge. All requests shall be by properly filed motion with certification of delivery of a copy of the motion to the other party, unless jointly filed. No exhibits shall be attached to motions unless necessary to support the factual allegation(s) contained in a filing.
- (1) In Cases Not Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has not been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, the court will not hear any motion based upon facts unless the facts are verified by affidavit, or are already contained in the court record. No exhibits shall be attached to motions unless necessary to support an affidavit. The same rule will be applied as to all facts relied upon in objections to any motions.
(2) In Cases Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, the court will not hear any motion based upon facts unless the moving party indicates in writing an understanding that making a false statement in the pleading may subject that party to criminal penalties or the facts are already contained in the court record. No exhibits shall be attached to motions unless necessary to support the factual allegation(s) contained in a filing. The same rule will be applied as to all facts relied upon in objections to any motions.
- Any party filing a motion shall certify to the court that a good faith attempt has been made to obtain concurrence in the relief sought, except in the case of dispositive motions, motions for contempt or sanctions, or comparable motions where it can be reasonably assumed that the party or counsel will be unable to obtain concurrence.
- Motions to which all parties assent or concur will be ruled upon as court time permits.
- Motions that are not assented to will be held for 10 days from the filing date of the motion to allow other parties time to respond, unless justice requires an earlier Court ruling.
- Motions to Reconsider: A motion for reconsideration or other post-decision relief shall be filed within ten (10) days of the date on the Clerk’s written notice of the order or decision, which shall be mailed by the Clerk on the date of the notice. The motion shall state, with particular clarity, points of law or fact that the Court has overlooked or misapprehended and shall contain such argument in support of the motion as the movant desires to present; but the motion shall not exceed ten (10) pages. To preserve issues for an appeal to the Supreme Court, an appellant must have given the Court the opportunity to consider such issues; thus, to the extent that the Court, in its decision, addresses matters not previously raised in the case, a party must identify any alleged errors concerning those matters in a motion under this rule to preserve such issues for appeal. A hearing on the motion shall not be permitted except by order of the Court.
No answer to a motion for reconsideration or other post-decision relief shall be required unless ordered by the Court, but any answer or objection must be filed within ten (10) days of notification of the motion.
If a motion for reconsideration or other post-decision relief is granted, the court may schedule a further hearing.
The filing of a motion for reconsideration or other post-decision relief shall not stay any order of the Court unless, upon specific written request, the Court has ordered such a stay.
The third sentence of section F derives from N.H. Dep’t of Corrections v. Butland , 147 N.H. 676, 679 (2002), and is not intended to preclude a party from raising an issue on appeal under the plain error rule set forth in Supreme Court Rule 16-A.
Rule 1.27 Continuances
- Except for the initial hearing in a case or for an emergency hearing, hearing dates are generally selected by agreement of the parties and the court. Therefore, motions to continue will usually be denied, except for good cause shown. The Court may condition the granting of a motion to continue on a requirement that the moving party obtain a date and time agreeable to all other parties and the court.
- For hearings scheduled by the court without input from the parties, motions to continue shall be filed within ten (10) days from the date of the mailing of the notice of a hearing.
- Any motion to continue filed by counsel shall contain a certification that the client has been notified of the reasons for the continuance, has assented to the motion, and has been forwarded a copy of the motion.
- (1) In Cases Not Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has not been implements, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, a motion to continue based upon the unavailability of a material witness must be supported by an affidavit containing the name of the material witness, the anticipated content of the testimony, what has been done to procure the attendance of the witness, including the date the request was initially made of the witness to testify, and a statement that the adverse party will not admit to the facts without the presence of the witness. The same rule shall apply with regard to the unavailability of a material document or other evidence.
(2) In Cases Subject to Electronic Filing. In any case filed in the family division in which the electronic filing pilot program has been implemented, see http://www.courts.state.nh.us/circuitcourt/efilingcourts.htm, a motion to continue based upon the unavailability of a material witness must be supported by a statement containing the name of the material witness, the anticipated content of the testimony, what has been done to procure the attendance of the witness, including the date the request was initially made of the witness to testify, and a statement that the adverse party will not admit to the facts without the presence of the witness. This statement shall be signed and shall indicate the person’s understanding that making a false statement in the pleading may subject that person to criminal penalties. The same rule shall apply with regard to the unavailability of a material document or other evidence.
- Priority of Scheduling. Where a hearing has been scheduled in one case prior to the scheduling of another hearing, the case scheduled first shall take priority over the subsequently scheduled cases, except as follows:
(1) to accommodate a subsequently scheduled case involving a jury trial in state or federal court, or argument before the New Hampshire Supreme Court or any federal appellate court;
(2) to comply with the hearing requirements of RSA 169-B, C, or D;
(3) to comply with the hearing requirements of RSA 173-B; or
(4) if unusual circumstances cause the respective Courts to agree that an order of precedence other than the above shall take place.
Rule 1.28 Offers of Proof
- When making an offer of proof, an attorney represents to the Court that the witness or document which is the subject of the offer has been examined by the attorney and the attorney reasonably believes, taking into account all that is known about the case, that the evidence is not false, is admissible through a witness who could testify under oath to establish the point for which it is offered, and is not offered for a frivolous purpose. In an ex parte proceeding, the attorney also represents that any offer of proof has been accompanied by a sworn statement of all material facts known to the attorney which will enable the Court to make an informed decision of the issues presented.
- When the Court exercises discretion to receive evidence by offers of proof, the following procedure shall be employed:
(1) an offer of proof as to the testimony of a witness shall be received only if that witness is in the courtroom at the time of the offer, and that witness would testify to the same information under oath if asked;
(2) any witness whose testimony is presented by offer of proof may be cross-examined by the opposing party, subject to the discretion of the Court; and
(3) where credibility is challenged, or for any purpose in the Court’s discretion, the Court may question the witness or require the witness’ proof be presented from the witness stand.
- If evidence could have been accepted by the Court without the necessity of testimony under oath from a witness for its introduction, for example when the parties have agreed, that evidence may also be received by offer of proof without the presence of the witness in court.
- Requests for restraining orders against any person should not be presented by offers of proof.
Rule 1.29 Photographing, Recording and Broadcasting
(a) Except as otherwise provided by this rule or by other provisions of law, any person, whether or not a member of an established media organization, shall be permitted to photograph, record and broadcast all court proceedings that are open to the public, provided that such person provides advance notice to the Court in accordance with section (c) of this rule that he or she intends to do so. No person shall photograph, record or broadcast any court proceeding without providing advance notice to the Court that he or she intends to do so. In addition to giving any parties in interest an opportunity to object, the purpose of the notice requirement is to allow the Court to ensure that the photographing, recording or broadcasting will not be disruptive to the proceedings and will not be conducted in such a manner or using such equipment as to violate the provisions of this rule.
(b) Official court reporters, court monitors and other persons employed or engaged by the court to make the official record of any court proceeding may record such proceeding by video and/or audio means without compliance with the notice provisions of section (a) of this rule.
(c) Any person desiring to photograph, record or broadcast any court proceeding, or to bring equipment intended to be used for these purposes into a courtroom, shall submit a written request to the clerk of the court or his or her designee, who, in turn, shall deliver the request to the Court before commencement of the proceeding, or, if the proceeding has already commenced, at the first reasonable opportunity during the proceeding, so the Court before commencement of the proceeding, or at an appropriate time during the proceeding, may give all interested parties a reasonable opportunity to be heard on the request.
(d) Any party to a court proceeding or other interested person who has reason to believe that a request to photograph, record or broadcast a court proceeding will be made and who desires to place limitations beyond that specified by this rule upon these activities may file a written motion seeking such relief. The motion shall be filed as far in advance of the proceeding as is practicable. Upon the filing of such a motion, the court may schedule a hearing as expeditiously as possible before the commencement of the proceeding and, if a hearing is scheduled, the court shall provide as much notice of the hearing as is reasonably possible to all interested parties and to the Associated Press, which shall disseminate the notice to its members.
(e) No court or justice shall establish notice rules, requirements or procedures that are different than those established by this rule.
(f) At any hearing conducted pursuant to subsections (c) or (d) of this rule, the party or person seeking to prohibit or impose restrictions beyond the terms of this rule on the photographing, recording or broadcasting of a court proceeding that is open to the public shall bear the burden of demonstrating: (1) that the relief sought advances an overriding public interest that is likely to be prejudiced if the relief is not granted; (2) that the relief sought is no broader than necessary to protect that interest; and (3) that no reasonable less restrictive alternatives are available to protect the interest. Any order prohibiting or imposing restrictions beyond the terms of this rule upon the photographing, recording or broadcasting of a court proceeding that is open to the public shall be supported by particularized findings of fact that demonstrate the necessity of the court’s action.
(g) The Court retains discretion to limit the number of cameras, recording devices and related equipment allowed in the courtroom at one time. In imposing such limitations, the Court may give preference to requests to photograph, record or broadcast made by a representative of an established media organization that disseminates information concerning court proceedings to the public. The Court also may require representatives of the media to arrange pool coverage.
(h) It is the responsibility of representatives of media organizations desiring to photograph, record or broadcast a court proceeding to contact the clerk of court in advance of a proceeding to ascertain if pool coverage will be required. If the Court has determined that pool coverage will be required, it is the sole responsibility of such media representatives, with assistance as needed from the clerk or his or her designee, to determine which media organization will provide the coverage feed. Disputes about pool coverage will not ordinarily be resolved by the court, and the court may deny media organizations’ requests to photograph, record or broadcast a proceeding if pool agreements cannot be reached. It also is the responsibility of said person to make arrangements with the clerk of court or his or her designee sufficiently in advance of the proceeding so that the set up of any needed equipment in the courtroom, including equipment for pool coverage, can be completed without delaying the proceeding. The court shall allow reasonable time prior to a proceeding for the set up of such equipment.
(i) The court shall make all documents and exhibits filed with the court, and not sealed, available for inspection by members of the public in a reasonably timely fashion, it being recognized that the court’s need to make use of documents and exhibits for official purposes must take precedence over their availability for public inspection. The court may elect to make one “public” copy of an exhibit available in the clerk’s office.
(j) The exact location of all recording, photographing and broadcasting equipment within the courtroom shall be determined by the Court. Once established, movement of such equipment within the courtroom is prohibited without the express prior approval of the presiding justice. The court may prohibit the use of any equipment which requires the laying of cords or wires that pose a safety hazard or impair easy ingress and egress from the courtroom. All equipment used must operate with minimal noise so as not to disrupt the proceedings.
(k) Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the following standing orders shall apply to all recording, photographing or broadcasting of proceedings within any courtroom:
(1) No flash or other artificial lighting devices shall be used.
(2) Set up and dismantling of equipment in a disruptive manner while court is in session is prohibited.
(3) No recording, photographing or broadcasting equipment may be moved into, out of, or within the courtroom while court is in session.
(4) Recording, photographing or broadcasting equipment must remain a reasonable distance from the parties, counsel tables, alleged victims and their families and witnesses, unless such person(s) voluntarily approach the position where such equipment is located. No such equipment shall be used or set up in a location that creates a risk of picking up confidential communications between lawyer and client or conferences held at the bench among the presiding justice and counsel or the parties.
(5) All persons using recording, photographing or broadcasting equipment must abide by the directions of court officers at all times.
(6) Interviews within the courtroom are not permitted before or after a proceeding.
(7) A person who has been granted permission to record, photograph or broadcast a court proceeding shall not engage in any activity that distracts the participants or impairs the dignity of the proceedings.
With respect to subsection (c) of this rule, it is contemplated that such requests will be deemed timely if they are filed enough in advance of the proceeding that the presiding justice has an opportunity to read and consider the request, to orally notify all interested parties of its existence, and to conduct a brief hearing in the event that any interested party objects to the request. Given the strong presumption under New Hampshire law that photographing, recording and/or broadcasting court proceedings that are open to the public is allowable, this subsection is not intended to impose lengthy or onerous advance notice requirements; instead, it recognizes that frequently such requests will be filed only shortly before the proceeding in question is to begin.
Rule 1.30 Access to Confidential Records — Fees and Notice
Any person or entity not otherwise entitled to access may file a motion or petition to gain access to:
- A financial affidavit filed pursuant to Family Division Rule 2.16 and kept confidential under RSA 458:15-b, I, or RSA 461-A:3.
- Any other sealed or confidential court record. See Petition of Keene Sentinel, 136 N.H. 121 (1992).
Filing Fee: There shall be no filing fee for such a motion or petition.
Notice: In open cases, the person filing such a motion shall provide the parties to the proceeding with notice of the motion by first class mail to the last mail addresses on file with the Clerk. In closed cases, the Court shall order that the petitioner notify the parties of the petition to grant access by certified mail to the last known address of each party, return receipt requested, restricted delivery, signed by the addressee only, unless the Court expressly determines that another method of service is necessary in the circumstances.
Rule 1.31 Appeals to the Supreme Court
- When a question of law is to be transferred after a decision on the merits, all appeals shall be deemed waived and final judgment shall be entered on the thirty-first (31st) day from the date on the Clerk’s written notice that the Court has made the decision on the merits, unless the party aggrieved enters a notice of appeal in the Supreme Court within thirty days from the date on the Clerk’s written notice of the Court’s decision that aggrieves the party, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 7, and mails the number of copies provided for by the rules of the Supreme Court to its Clerk. The Court shall not grant any requests for extensions of time to file an appeal document in the Supreme Court or requests for late entry of an appeal document in the Supreme Court; such requests shall be filed with the Supreme Court. See Supreme Court Rule 21(6).
- Whenever any question of law is to be transferred by interlocutory appeal from a ruling or by interlocutory transfer without ruling, counsel shall prepare and file with the Clerk of the family division the interlocutory appeal statement or interlocutory transfer statement pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 8 and Supreme Court Rule 9, and after the Court has signed the statement, counsel shall mail the number of copies provided for by the rules of the Supreme Court to its Clerk.
Rule 1.32 Dismissal of Cases Pending Without Action
With the exception of a case which has been accepted for appeal by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, any non-criminal matter which has been pending without action for two calendar years from the date of the last court action may be dismissed by the court. Thirty days prior to dismissal the court shall send a notice of the pending dismissal to the last known address of all parties and counsel of record. A case may be considered “pending without action” in the following circumstances:
No court hearing has been scheduled or requested;
No pleadings are pending before the court;
No judgment has been entered in the case; and
No court order has been issued to stay the case.
Rule 2.1 Scope and Applicability
The family division has jurisdiction over all divorces, parenting actions, legal separations, annulments, child support actions, separate maintenance actions, actions involving the dissolution of civil unions, paternity, legitimation, registration of foreign judgments and decrees, uniform interstate family support, administrative support violations, and any actions to change or enforce any of these orders once they become final. These rules apply to divorce, legal separation, and parenting actions, and serve as guidance for the other case types listed above.
Rule 2.2 Application of New Hampshire Rules of Evidence
The New Hampshire Rules of Evidence do not apply to the actions listed above. However, the Court in its discretion may utilize the New Hampshire Rules of Evidence to enhance the predictable, orderly, fair, and reliable presentation of evidence.
Rule 2.3 Beginning of Legal Action
- Petition. All domestic relations actions begin with the filing of a petition. A petition may be jointly filed by both parties.
- Where to File Petition. New petitions should be filed in the county in which the petitioner lives. If there are multiple family division locations within a county, the petition is properly filed in the family division location for the town in which the petitioner resides, as outlined in RSA 490-D:4. If both parties reside within the same county, the petition may be filed at the family division location for the town of residence of either the petitioner or respondent.
- Petition Caption. Domestic relations actions shall be entitled “In the matter of …and…”, stating the names of the parties. The first name shall be of the petitioner and the second shall be of the respondent.
- Petition Type. The subject matter of the petition, such as petition for divorce, shall be stated in the title of the petition.
- Petition Contents. Petitions filed under these rules shall contain all information required on the petition forms posted on the judicial branch website at www.courts.state.nh.us and available at any family division location.
- Proper Filing. An action under this section is considered properly filed upon the court’s receipt of a completed individual or joint petition, a personal data sheet, and the correct filing fee.
- Personal Data Sheet. At the time of any initial filing, the filing party shall, and the responding party may, file a completed personal data sheet. Should a party become aware of any change in addresses, telephone numbers, or employment during the pendency of a case or of any outstanding support order, that party shall notify the court of such change. Access to information contained in the personal data sheet shall be restricted to court personnel, the Office of Child Support, the court-appointed mediator, the guardian ad litem , the parties, and counsel unless a party has requested on the data sheet that it not be disclosed to the other party.
- Adultery/Co-Respondent. All petitions and cross petitions for divorce or legal separation alleging adultery shall contain the name and address of the person with whom the party is accused of committing adultery, if known, and, if not, a statement to that effect.
- Re-Opening a Case. After a decree has become final, the case may be re-opened by the filing of a Petition, in the same court and with the same caption as used in the Final Decree. The Petition shall comply with all other sections of this rule.
Rule 2.4 Notice of Legal Action
- Joint Petitions. Because joint petitions are signed and filed by both parties, no further notice or service is required.
- Individual Petitions. Upon receipt of an individual petition, the court shall attach to the petition a Notice to Respondent (formerly orders of notice) and an appearance form.
(1) The court forwards a notice to the respondent, indicating that the petition has been filed and that the respondent or the respondent’s attorney may accept service of the petition at the court within ten (10) days. A respondent’s attorney, who has filed an appearance, may request and accept service by mail provided the attorney files a receipt of service signed by the respondent within five (5) business days of the attorney’s receipt of the petition.
(2) If neither the respondent nor the attorney for the respondent accepts service of the petition as set forth above, the petition shall be forwarded to the petitioner for service on the respondent either by certified mail, restricted delivery, signed by the addressee only, or by sheriff; or, if the respondent is out of state, by an officer authorized to make service in the state where the respondent lives. In all instances, the petitioner shall file the return receipt or the return of sheriff/officer service as proof of service.
- If the above methods of service are neither feasible nor successful, the Court, upon motion of the petitioner, will consider alternate methods of service.
- Notice to Co-Respondent. Any person not a party to the proceedings who is accused of adultery shall be served with an attested copy of the petition with the orders of notice. Such service is not required if the co-respondent resides outside the state, in which case notice by regular US mail is acceptable.
Rule 2.5 Response to Legal Action
Response to Legal Action:
A. Appearance: Any party intending to participate in the case must file a written Appearance within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the Notice to Respondent.
B. Responsive Pleadings. No responsive pleading is required of the respondent, unless alimony or other affirmative relief is requested; provided, however, that the court may, as justice may require, allow a respondent to seek alimony or other affirmative relief despite the failure to file a timely responsive pleading. If the respondent chooses to file a response, with or without a cross-petition, it shall be filed in the timeframes set forth in the Clerk’s notice. A cross-petition need not be served in hand or by sheriff, but shall contain a certificate that the respondent has delivered a copy of the cross-petition to the petitioner by pre-paid mail.
C. Notice to Co-Respondent. Any person not a party to the proceedings who is accused of adultery shall be served with an attested copy of the cross-petition and orders of notice. Such service is not required if the co-respondent resides outside the state, in which case notice by regular US mail is acceptable.
Rule 2.6 Default and Dismissal
- Default. If the court has not received a timely appearance or response from the respondent, and the petitioner has requested the entry of a default, a default hearing shall be scheduled not less than thirty (30) days from the petitioner’s written request, provided the petitioner has filed a military affidavit, vital statistics form, non-cohabitation affidavit, affidavit of impossibility, uniform support order and child support guideline worksheet if child support is to be ordered, proposed decree, parenting plan, and a current financial affidavit, together with a certificate that copies of each of the foregoing items have been forwarded to the other party. If a non-cohabitation affidavit is not filed with the court as required by this rule, the hearing may proceed following at least fourteen (14) days’ notice from the court to the other party that the matter has been scheduled for hearing. After a default, a motion to substantively amend the proposed orders will only be considered by the Court after service upon the other party.B. Dismissal. The Court may dismiss a petition without prejudice due to insufficiency of allegations or service. The order of dismissal shall state the reason for the dismissal.
Rule 2.7 Person Asserting Interest in Legal Action
- Asserted by a Person who is not a Party to the Case. Any person asserting an interest in the proceedings may seek to intervene as a party in the action by filing a motion to intervene. The motion must include a brief statement concerning the person’s relationship to the subject matter of the case and reason for seeking intervention.B. Asserted by a Party to the Case. Any party to an action may file a motion to join another person/entity to the action by setting forth a brief statement concerning that person or entity’s relationship to the subject matter of the case and reason for including that person to the action. If the Court joins the person or entity as a party to the case, that person may be ordered by the Court to appear in the case.
Rule 2.8 Presence of Children
A child shall not be brought to court as a witness, or to attend a hearing, or be involved in depositions without prior order of the Court allowing that child’s participation. To obtain permission of the Court for the presence of a child in such a proceeding, good cause must be shown.
Rule 2.9 Emergency and Ex Parte Relief
- Emergency. If either party believes a hearing is needed prior to participation in mediation, that party shall file a request for an immediate hearing, identifying the emergency and the issues to be addressed at the hearing.
- Ex Parte. Subject to the provisions of RSA 458:16 and RSA 461-A:9, an emergency order may be granted without written or oral notice to the other party or attorney only if it clearly appears to the Court from specific facts shown by sworn statement or by the verified petition that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage shall result to the applicant, the children, or the marital estate before the other party or attorney can be heard. If the other party is represented or has filed an appearance, normally no relief will be granted without notice to the other party and an opportunity to be heard. An ex parte order may be requested by motion of the petitioner/attorney prior to service of the petition. A hearing shall be scheduled within thirty (30) days of the issuance of an ex parte order. In addition, the party against whom the orders are issued may file a written request with the court for a hearing on such orders, which hearing shall be held no later than five (5) days after the request is received.
Rule 2.10 Child Impact Seminar
Child Impact Seminar: In any action involving married or unmarried parents of minor children, the parties shall attend the child impact seminar as required by RSA 458-D as soon as possible after the commencement of the action but no later than forty-five (45) days after service of the petition upon the respondent. Parties shall not be required to attend the same seminar if there is a domestic violence order in effect under RSA 173-B. Upon a party’s failure to complete the seminar according to this rule, the Court may take appropriate action including, but not limited to, actions for contempt.
Rule 2.11 First Appearance
- A First Appearance will be held within 30 days after service has been accomplished in divorces and legal separations in which there are minor children and in parenting petition cases. At First Appearance, a judge will give information about the court process and mediation. Before the parties leave First Appearance, the court will schedule mediation or the next court event.B. Attendance by both parents is required, and is expected at the same First Appearance, unless good cause exists to allow separate attendance. If a protective order pertaining to the parents is in effect, each parent shall attend a separate First Appearance. Attendance by attorneys is encouraged but optional.C. If parties or their counsel believe unique circumstances exist pertaining to their attendance at First Appearance, motions to be excused from attending First Appearance, in which the unique circumstances are specifically described, may be filed.
Rule 2.12 Case Manager Conference
Case Manager Conference: In any case in which there is at least one self-represented party, the court may schedule a case manager conference. The case manager will explain court documents that will be required depending on the type of action. If the parties are in agreement, the case manager may assist the parties in putting their agreement into writing on court forms.
Rule 2.13 Mediation
A. In divorce actions and legal separation actions in which there are minor children, and in parenting petition cases, parties shall be ordered to participate in mediation unless the Court finds that mediation would not be appropriate due to factor(s) listed in RSA 461-A:7.
B. Participation in mediation may be ordered in new divorces and legal separations without minor children and in those divorce, legal separation, or parenting cases in which final orders have been issued if those cases return to court for further Court orders.
C. If there is a finding of domestic violence as defined in RSA 173-B:1, and if the parties agree to mediate despite the existence of the protective order, all mediation sessions shall occur at the courthouse.
D. The court will be involved in scheduling the initial mediation session in each case. Thereafter, mediation will be scheduled through the parties and the mediator. Parties must cooperate with the mediator to establish the next mediation date at the end of each mediation session.
E. Attorneys may attend mediation sessions with their clients, provided the mediator is able to establish a balanced opportunity for both parties to participate in the mediation.
F. Mediation will be ordered only with mediators certified pursuant to RSA 328-C who have contracted with the Judicial Branch. However, parties may arrange private mediation with a mediator of their choice, regardless of whether these mediators have contracts with the judicial branch.
G. Payment of mediator fees shall be pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 48-B.
Rule 2.14 Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative Dispute Resolution: At any time prior to the final hearing, the Court may order the parties to engage in mediation if deemed appropriate by the Court, or to engage in other forms of alternative dispute resolution if agreed upon by the parties.
Rule 2.15 Appointment of Guardian ad Litem
A guardian ad litem may be appointed at the request of either party or upon order of the Court. Any guardian ad litem appointed under this rule shall be certified by the Guardian ad Litem Certification Board. The Court shall apportion payment between the parties. Written reports of the guardian ad litem shall be kept in an envelope marked confidential within the court file, and shall only be disclosed to parties or attorneys to the action. Absent good cause shown, a guardian ad litem shall not be appointed while the parties are engaged in mediation.
Rule 2.16 Financial Affidavits
- In all cases in which support and/or division of property (temporary, permanent, or otherwise) and/or payment of the guardian ad litem or mediator are in any way involved, each party shall file with the court and with the other party a typewritten or legibly handwritten financial affidavit which contains the information requested on the family division financial affidavit. Such affidavits shall be exchanged with the other party and filed with the court seven (7) days prior to any hearing, unless excused by the Court. If there has been no change in financial circumstances since the filing of the previous affidavit, a party may file an Affidavit of No Change. If, by the time of the hearing, there is any change in financial circumstances, a new financial affidavit must be filed and exchanged as soon as the change is known. B. Each party shall indicate all sources and amounts of income and expenses, and shall disclose the identification and value of each asset of the party, whether owned individually, jointly, or in any other form. If the exact value of an asset is not known, the party shall disclose its identification and approximate value, indicating that the value is an estimate only. The parties shall be under a continuing order to make full and complete disclosure to each other of the identification and value of all assets of the parties, and any changes to the identification or value of the assets during the pendency of the case. Intentional failure to disclose any asset at the time of the scheduling conference, or at any time thereafter when an asset is discovered, shall be considered a violation of this rule subject to appropriate action by the Court, including the award of that asset to the other party.C. Financial affidavits filed in divorce, legal separation, annulment, child support, or parenting petition cases shall be confidential to non-parties. Access to such financial affidavits shall be pursuant to Family Division Rule 1.30.
Rule 2.17 Child Support Documents
The family division Uniform Support Order, Uniform Support Order-Standing Order, and Instructions for Completion of the Uniform Support Order shall be used in all cases involving dependent children in which child support may be ordered. These forms should not be abbreviated and no provision shall be deleted. If a particular provision does not apply, then the words “not applicable” should be used.
In cases in which the parties are in agreement on support issues, only one child support guideline worksheet and one uniform support order shall be filed. If the parties are not in agreement, each party shall file a child support guideline worksheet and a proposed uniform support order.
In cases involving child support where the obligor has failed to file a financial affidavit or otherwise disclose the obligor’s income, the obligee should make a reasonable estimate of the obligor’s income, use that amount in calculating support on the child support guideline worksheet, and include a statement to that effect in the proposed uniform support order.
Stipulations, agreements, or proposed decrees must state whether the child support award is in accordance with the child support guidelines and, if not, explain the proposed deviation.
Rule 2.18 Parenting Plans
(1) Parenting plans shall be filed in all divorce and legal separation actions where there are minor children, and in all parenting actions. Parents shall work together to agree upon as many provisions of the parenting plan as possible. Exceptions to the requirement that parents work together in parenting plans include cases where there is evidence of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or as otherwise excused by the Court.
(2) For all temporary and final hearings requiring parenting plans, the parties are expected to file a joint parenting plan, which includes all provisions with which they are in agreement. The parties shall file separate proposed parenting plans for those parenting items which are in dispute. Additionally, parenting plans must be filed in all actions to modify final parenting plans or prior final parenting-related orders issued in divorce, legal separation, or parenting actions.
(3) Parties may use the parenting plan form provided by the court or may create their own parenting plan. However, parties who create their own parenting plans must adhere to the standard order of lettered paragraphs set forth in these rules.
(4) All parenting plans required by this rule shall be filed as separate documents, signed by one or more parties.
- Standard Order of Paragraphs for Parenting Plan.
(1) All parenting plans shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.
(a) Decision-Making Responsibility
(i) Major Decisions
(ii) Day-to-Day Decisions
(b) Residential Responsibility & Parenting Schedule
(i) Routine Schedule
(ii) Holiday and Birthday Planning
(iii) Three-day weekends
(iv) Vacation Schedule
(v) Supervised Parenting Time
(vi) Other Parental Responsibilities
(c) Legal Residence of a Child for School Attendance
(d) Transportation and Exchange of the Child(ren)
(e) Information Sharing and Access, Including Telephone and Electronic Access
(i) Parent-Child Telephone Contact
(ii) Parent-Child Written Communication
(f) Relocation of a Residence of a Child
(g) Procedure for Review and Adjustment of Parenting Plan
(h) Method(s) for Resolving Disputes
(i) Other Parenting Agreements Attached
(2) For any of the above, “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.
Rule 2.19 Temporary Hearing
- Subject to the rules regarding mediation, the Court may schedule a temporary hearing if one is requested by either party. The notice of this hearing shall indicate the amount of time allotted for the hearing, generally thirty (30) minutes. Temporary hearings shall be conducted by offers of proof. Parties shall comply with the provisions of Family Division Rule 1.28 pertaining to Offers of Proof. B. Motions for extended or evidentiary temporary hearings shall be heard at the time specified in the notice of hearing, unless ruled upon in advance by the Court.C. If a temporary hearing is scheduled, a scheduling conference shall generally also be held at the same date and time. In the event a temporary agreement is reached, the parties must still appear for the scheduling conference.D. Seven (7) days prior to the temporary hearing, the parties shall file and exchange financial affidavits and proposed temporary decrees; and if minor children are involved, agreed upon and proposed parenting plans, uniform support orders, and child support worksheets.E. No agreement for temporary orders shall be approved without the current financial affidavit of each party, or an affidavit of impossibility, having been filed.
Rule 2.20 Scheduling Conference
A scheduling conference may be scheduled if the other party has filed an appearance and the matter has not been settled. At the scheduling conference, the Court may (1) refer the parties to mediation, (2) appoint a guardian ad litem for the child(ren), (3) issue discovery orders, and (4) determine the future schedule of the case, including the dates for pretrial, status, motion, final and/or other hearings, as well as issue other orders necessary to the further scheduling of the case. Counsel and parties must be prepared at the scheduling conference to set specific dates for each event. Dates established shall not be extended except in extraordinary circumstances.
Rule 2.21 Pretrial Conference
- A pretrial conference will generally be held prior to the final hearing to identify contested issues, identify witnesses, mark exhibits, exchange documents, and complete any other matters the Court deems appropriate, including setting further conference and/or hearing dates. At the pretrial conference, the parties shall file and exchange pretrial statements, current financial affidavits, and proposed decrees; and if there are minor children, child support worksheets, uniform support orders, and agreed upon and proposed parenting plans. Following the pretrial conference, the court shall not accept modifications to documents presented at the pretrial conference unless the modified documents have been exchanged within a reasonable time before final hearing. This rule shall be strictly enforced. B. In divorce actions, legal separation actions, and parenting cases to the extent applicable, pretrial statements must include:(1) A list of disputed issues;(2) Special circumstances under child support guidelines;(3) Factors justifying sole decision-making responsibility;(4) Factors justifying unequal property division;
(5) Circumstances justifying alimony;
(6) Unresolved discovery issues;
(7) Valuation(s) agreement status/values;
(8) A list of witnesses, including expert witnesses;
(9) A list of exhibits;
(10) Estimated time for final hearing;
(11) Likelihood of settlement; and
(12) Special circumstances affecting trial scheduling.
Rule 2.22 Uncontested Final Hearing for Divorce or Legal Separation
A decree of divorce may be issued without conducting a final hearing, and without the presence of the parties, if all required documents have been filed, both parties have waived, in writing, their attendance at the final hearing, and the Court is satisfied with the clarity of the documents submitted.
Rule 2.23 Settlements and Agreements
- All stipulations and agreements shall be typed and signed by the parties and, if represented by counsel, by attorneys for the parties. The Court may accept handwritten agreements, but may require the parties to file a typewritten substitute (conformed copy) with the court within ten (10) days. A typewritten substitute does not need to contain signatures.B. Whenever the Clerk receives a Mediation Report indicating that a case has settled, or written notice from a party or an attorney that a case has settled, the parties shall have thirty (30) days in which to file all required settlement documents. If the documents are not filed within this timeframe, the Court shall take such action as justice may require, including dismissal of the case where appropriate.C. No agreement for temporary or final orders shall be approved without a current financial affidavit of each party having been filed, or an affidavit indicating that there has been no change in the financial status of the party since the last time the party filed a financial affidavit.
Rule 2.24 Contested Final Hearing
- For final hearings which were not preceded by a pretrial conference, the parties shall, unless excused by the Court, file and exchange no later than thirty (30) days before the final hearing, the following:
(1) list of witnesses
(2) copies of all exhibits to be offered at final hearing
(3) proposed final decrees
(4) where minor children are involved, an agreed upon parenting plan on those issues to which the parties agree, proposed parenting plans for the issues not agreed upon, child support guidelines worksheets, and proposed uniform support orders.
- In addition to the requirement for submitting documents at a pretrial conference, or in the event a pretrial conference was not held as outlined above, updated financial affidavits, or affidavits of no financial change if appropriate, shall be filed and exchanged seven days prior to the final hearing.
- Seven (7) days prior to the final hearing, the parties shall submit jointly prepared agreements and parenting plans on all issues which are not in dispute, and a jointly filed list of personal property, indicating those items which the parties agree each may have, and those items which remain in dispute.
- Failure to disclose the identity of a witness in accordance with these rules may preclude the party from offering the testimony of that witness at the final hearing. Failure to list and exchange an exhibit in accordance with these rules may result in the Court’s denying the admission of the exhibit.
- The parties are expected to communicate with each other in advance of the final hearing with respect to the sharing and management of the allotted hearing time. The Court reserves the right to participate in this process by conducting a trial management conference.
Rule 2.25 Vital Statistics Form
No divorce, legal separation, or annulment shall be heard on its merits, or a final agreement approved, until a completed typewritten vital statistics report is filed with the court by the petitioner/attorney. Access to information contained in the vital statistics report shall be restricted to court personnel, the parties, and counsel.
Rule 2.26 Decrees in Divorce or Legal Separation
- Temporary. All temporary agreements and proposed decrees shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs. “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.
(1) Type of Case
(2) Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order
(3) Tax Exemptions for Children
(4) Guardian ad Litem Fees
(6) Health Insurance for Spouse
(7) Life Insurance
(8) Motor Vehicles
(9) Furniture and Other Personal Property
(10) Retirement Plans and Other Tax-Deferred Assets
(11) Other Financial Assets
(12) Business Interests of the Parties
(13) Division of Debt
(14) Marital Home
(15) Other Real Property
(16) Restraints against the Property
(17) Restraining Order
(18) Other Requests
- Final. All final agreements and proposed decrees shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs. “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.
(1) Type of Case
(2) Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order
(3) Tax Exemptions for Children
(4) Guardian ad Litem Fees
(6) Health Insurance for Spouse
(7) Life Insurance
(8) Motor Vehicles
(9) Furniture and Other Personal Property
(10) Retirement Plans and Other Tax-Deferred Assets
(11) Other Financial Assets
(12) Business Interests of the Parties
(13) Division of Debt
(14) Marital Home
(15) Other Real Property
(16) Enforceability after Death
(17) Signing of Documents
(18) Restraining Order
(19) Name Change
(20) Other Requests
Rule 2.27 Decrees in Parenting Petitions Actions
All agreements and proposed decrees in parenting actions shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs. “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.
(1) Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order
(2) Tax Exemptions for Children
(3) Guardian ad Litem Fees
(4) Life Insurance
(5) Enforceability after Death
(6) Restraining Order
(7) Other Requests
Rule 2.28 Qualified Domestic Relations Orders
Access to information contained in the qualified domestic relations order shall be restricted to court personnel, the parties, and counsel.
Rule 2.29 Effective Dates
- Uncontested Matters. Decrees in uncontested cases where the parties have filed a permanent agreement shall become effective on the date signed by the judge, or countersigned by a judge pursuant to RSA 490-D:9, unless otherwise specified by the Court.
- Contested and Defaulted Matters. In contested cases or upon the default of either party, the following rules apply.
- The following orders are effective upon the issuance of the clerk’s notice of decision, unless the court specifies, either orally or in writing, another effective date:
- Temporary orders;
- Parenting plans;
- Uniform support orders
- Orders for alimony or payments of on-going expenses; and
- Provisions concerning the welfare of a child or the safety of a party, at the discretion of the court.
- All orders other than those described in subsection 1 are effective on the 31st day from the date of the clerk’s notice of decision unless the order specifies another effective date, a party files a timely post-decision motion (see Supreme Court Rule 7(1)(c)), or a party files an appeal.
- If any party files a timely post-decision motion, but no appeal is filed, all orders other than those described in subsection 1 are effective on the 31st day from the date of the clerk’s notice of decision on the motion or another date at the discretion of the court.
- If any party files an appeal, all orders described in subsection 1 shall continue in effect until the supreme court mandate or the conclusion of such further proceedings as the supreme court may order, whichever is last. During this period, no orders as to marital status or parentage or as to property division shall take effect.
- Nothing in this Rule modifies Family Division Rule 1.31 or Supreme Court Rule 7 as to the time for filing an appeal.
- Inactive Cases. All domestic relations cases which have been placed on hold by request of the parties shall be dismissed after six (6) months unless there is a request by a party to reactivate the case, or a request for a further extension for good cause.
Pursuant to paragraph B(4), the supreme court may specify effective dates of orders when appropriate, but this paragraph is not intended to affect the family court’s existing authority to act on certain matters while an appeal is pending. See Nicolazzi v. Nicolazzi, 131 N.H. 694 (1989); Rollins v. Rollins, 122 N.H. 6 (1982); Rautenberg v. Munnis, 107 N.H. 446 (1966).
Rule 2.30 Modification of Final Decree
- General. After a decree becomes final, either party may petition the court to change the final court order in their case. The petition must be provided to the other party as though it were a new case, with service to be accomplished as set forth in Family Division Rule 2.4. Regardless of which party files the petition, the parties will maintain original party designations. The original petitioner is always the petitioner, and the original respondent is always the respondent, even though the respondent may be the party requesting change.
- Proper Filing. A properly filed petition to change the court order includes: A Petition to Change Court Order that states the names, dates of birth, and address(es) of the parties; the names and dates of birth the parties’ children; the parts of the Court’s order that are being requested to be changed; the specific changes that are being sought; reason(s) why the Court should change the order; a statement about the receipt of public/medical assistance; a personal data sheet; and the filing fee.
- Where to File Petitions to Change Court Order.
(1) A Petition to Change Court Order that refers to a family division order should be brought in the family division location that issued the order.
(2) A Petition to Change Court Order that refers to a superior court order issued before the existence of the family division should be filed in the family division location where it would have been filed under Family Division Rule 2.3 B if the family division had been in existence at the time of original filing.
- Mediation. If the issues raised in the petition are not resolvable at the first post-decree hearing, the Court may order the parties to engage in mediation before scheduling further hearings.
- By Agreement. If the parties agree to change the final order, they may file an agreement with the court. No petition or service is required. The Court, in its discretion, may approve an agreement to change the final order without a hearing.
- Legal Separation To Divorce. Parties may agree in writing to change a decree of legal separation to one of divorce, subject to the Court’s determination that justice requires such a change.
Rule 2.31 Enforcement of Court Order
- General. Any party may request that another party be found in contempt for violating an order of the Court by way of motion or petition, as the case may require.
(1) Open cases. When a contempt action is brought in an open case, a proper filing includes: A Motion for Contempt that explains what court order is believed to have been violated; what specific conduct is alleged to have occurred in violation of the court order; and what relief is being requested of the Court. No filing fee is required. Notification to all parties may be accomplished by regular US mail.
(2) Closed cases. When a contempt action is brought in a closed case, a proper filing includes: A Petition for Contempt that explains what court order is believed to have been violated; what specific conduct is alleged to have occurred in violation of the court order; and what relief is being requested of the Court. A filing fee and personal data sheet are required. Notice to the party alleged to be in contempt must be accomplished by sheriff’s service in New Hampshire, or by any person authorized to make service if done outside of New Hampshire. Notice to other parties of the original action may be by regular US Mail.
- Attachments, Arrests, Incarceration. Attachments or arrests and incarceration for civil contempt may be ordered by the Court upon a finding of the violation of any Court order, after notice and an opportunity to be heard. Parties may be arrested upon Court order and required to post bonds for appearance and compliance with court orders in any case where it shall be deemed necessary.
Rule 3.1 Scope
These rules, unless otherwise stated, apply to RSA 169-B Delinquency cases and RSA 169-D Children in Need of Services cases.
Rule 3.2 Multiple Representation of Juveniles
An attorney shall have an affirmative duty to immediately notify the court in all cases involving multiple representation. An attorney shall not be permitted to represent more than one juvenile involved in the same case unless counsel and the court have established a record, in accordance with this rule, that indicates convincingly that the potential for conflict is very slight.
Counsel shall, upon commencement of representation, investigate the possibility of conflict of interest between clients and discuss that possibility with each client. If counsel determines that conflict is highly unlikely and that counsel may therefore continue to represent each client, the court shall be so notified and shall promptly convene a hearing at which the relevant facts shall be made a part of the record, which may be a mechanical record on tape. Such record shall include evidence of counsel’s discussion of the matter with each client, evidence of each client’s informed consent to multiple representation based on the client’s understanding that the client is entitled to independent counsel, and either a written or oral waiver by each client of any conflict arising from the multiple representation.
Rule 3.3 Discovery
- Within seven (7) days after the arraignment, the prosecutor shall furnish the juvenile’s attorney or the juvenile and parent(s), if the juvenile has no attorney, with the following:
(1) A copy of records of statements or confessions, signed or unsigned, by the juvenile, to any law enforcement officer or officer’s agent;
(2) A list of any tangible objects, papers, documents or books obtained from or belonging to the juvenile;
(3) A list of names of witnesses, including experts and their reports;
(4) Copies of any lab reports;
(5) All exculpatory materials required to be disclosed pursuant to the doctrine of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and its progeny, including State v. Laurie, 139 N.H. 325 (1995).
(6) Notification of the State’s intention to offer at trial, pursuant to NH Rule of Evidence 404B, evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts committed by the juvenile, as well as copies of or access to all statements, reports, or other materials that the State will rely on to prove the commission of such other crimes, wrongs, or acts; and
(7) A statement as to whether the foregoing evidence, or any part thereof, will be offered at the adjudicatory hearing.
- Within fourteen (14) days after the arraignment, the juvenile shall provide the prosecutor with a list of names of witnesses, including experts and their reports and copies of any lab reports, that the juvenile anticipates introducing at the adjudicatory hearing.
- In the event of a petition filed by a party other than the State, the above discovery rules shall apply, except that the petitioner shall forward materials to the juvenile or attorney, and the juvenile or the juvenile’s attorney shall forward materials to the petitioner within the applicable time frames.
Rule 3.4 Acknowledgement of Rights and Waiver of Counsel
In all Delinquency or CHINS cases, except those filed by a parent, guardian, or custodian, if the juvenile elects to enter a plea of true or nolo contendere, without counsel, the juvenile and a parent shall review and sign:
(1) A Juvenile Acknowledgment of Rights form; and
(2) A Waiver of Counsel form.
The judge shall review these documents with the juvenile and the parent(s) to ensure they are understood.
If the juvenile is represented by counsel, the juvenile and counsel shall execute a Juvenile Acknowledgment of Rights form.
No plea from a juvenile shall be taken unless a Juvenile Acknowledgment of Rights form is executed by the juvenile, and parent(s) or counsel, except for good cause shown.
In all Delinquency or CHINS cases filed by a parent, the Court shall appoint counsel to represent the juvenile before a plea of true or nolo contendere may be considered by the Court.
Rule 3.5 Affirmative Defenses
If a juvenile intends to rely upon the defense of alibi, the juvenile shall notify the prosecution in writing of that intention and a copy of the notice shall be filed with the court within fourteen (14) days of the arraignment. The notice of alibi shall be signed by the juvenile, or counsel if represented, and shall state the specific place at which the juvenile claims to have been at the time of the alleged offense and the names and addresses of the witnesses upon whom the juvenile intends to rely to establish such alibi.
Within five (5) days after the receipt of the notice of alibi, the prosecution shall furnish the juvenile, or counsel, in writing with a list of the names and addresses of any additional witnesses not previously identified.
If, prior to or during the adjudication, a party learns of an additional witness whose identity, if known, should have been included in the information required by this rule, the party shall immediately notify the other party, or counsel, of the witness’ existence, identity and address.
Upon the failure of either party to comply with the requirements of this rule, the Court may exclude the testimony of any undisclosed witness offered by such party as the juvenile’s absence from, or presence at, the scene of the alleged offense. This rule shall not limit the right of the juvenile to testify concerning the alibi, even notice has not been filed.
If a juvenile intends to claim any defense specified by the Criminal Code, a notice of that intention identifying its basis of the intention shall be filed with the court, with a copy going to the prosecution, within fourteen (14) days of the arraignment. If the juvenile fails to comply with this rule, the Court may exclude any testimony relating to such defense or make such other order as justice requires.
Rule 3.6 Conditions of Release
In juvenile cases, the Court may place a juvenile on conditional release under the supervision of a Juvenile Probation and Parole Officer (JPPO). The terms and conditions of release, unless otherwise prescribed by the Court, shall be as follows:
(1) I will remain arrest free and obey all laws.
(2) I will follow all orders of the court.
(3) I will submit to reasonable searches of my person, room, and personal property to maintain safety of my person, living environment
(4) I will not possess, transport, control, or receive any weapon, explosive device, or firearm.
(5) I will follow my identified individual plan.
Rule 3.7 Notice and Right to be Heard — Foster Parents, Pre-Adoptive Parents, and Relative Caregivers
When a juvenile is placed out of home, foster parents, pre-adoptive parents and/or relatives providing care for the juvenile are entitled to notice of all review hearings, permanency hearings and post-permanency hearings and shall be allowed to be heard at these hearings, but shall not be given party status unless otherwise granted by the Court.
Rule 3.8 Consultation with Juvenile Regarding Proposed Permanency Plan and/or Transition Plan
The juvenile’s attorney shall consult in an age-appropriate manner with the juvenile about the juvenile’s views of the proposed permanency plan and/or transition plan. The attorney shall report about the consultation to the court in writing and/or orally at a permanency hearing. Such consultation shall not preclude the juvenile from attending and/or being heard at a permanency hearing.
Rule 3.9 Protection of Children in Sex-Related Cases
In any proceeding under RSA 169-B alleging a sex-related offense in which a minor child is an alleged victim or a witness, the Court shall allow the use of anatomically correct drawings and/or anatomically correct dolls as demonstrative evidence to assist the alleged victim or witness in testifying unless otherwise ordered by the Court for good cause shown.
In the event that the alleged victim or witness is nervous, afraid, timid, or otherwise reluctant to testify, the Court may allow the use of leading questions during the initial testimony but shall not allow the use of such questions relating to any essential element of the offense.
Rule 3.10 Juvenile Drug Court
Certain cases bought under the CHINS and Delinquency statutes may be referred to the Juvenile Drug Court (JDC). JDC is a more intensified session of either of these proceedings. It is not a separate court, nor is a separate petition required. Procedures in cases in JDC are governed by these rules, the appropriate statutes, and court protocols.
Rule 3.11 Automatic Withdrawal of Court-Appointed Counsel
In all Juvenile Delinquency and Children in Need of Services matters brought pursuant to RSA 169-B and RSA 169-D respectively, the appearance of counsel for the child shall be deemed to be withdrawn thirty (30) days after the date of the Clerk’s notice of the dispositional order unless a post-dispositional motion is filed within that thirty (30) day period or the court otherwise orders representation to continue. Where a post-dispositional motion is filed within thirty (30) days, the appearance of counsel for the juvenile shall be deemed to be withdrawn thirty (30) days after the court rules on said motion. Where the court otherwise orders representation to continue, the order shall state the specific duration and purpose of the continued representation. Counsel for the juvenile shall be deemed to be withdrawn immediately at the end of the ordered duration.
Rule 3.12 Withdrawal of Appointed Counsel
In Juvenile Delinquency matters brought pursuant to RSA 169-B, if appointed counsel must withdraw due to a conflict of interest as defined by Rules 1.7(a), 1.9(a) and (b) and/or 1.10(a), (b) and (c) of the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct, counsel shall forward a Notice of Withdrawal to the court and substitute counsel shall be appointed forthwith. Court approval of a withdrawal shall not be required in this circumstance unless the Notice of Withdrawal is filed less than 20 days from the date of a trial in which case court approval shall be required. Automatic withdrawal shall not be allowed and court approval shall be required if the basis for the withdrawal is a breakdown in the relationship with the client, the failure of the client to pay legal fees, or any other conflict not specifically set forth in Rules 1.7(a), 1.9(a) and (b) and/or 1.10(a), (b) and (c) of the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct.
Rule 4.1 Scope
The family division has jurisdiction in RSA 169-C Child Protection Act cases.
Rule 4.2 Attendance of Non-Parties
Any party wishing to bring other persons to hearings held in RSA 169-C cases shall first obtain permission of the Court, either by written motion in advance of the hearing, or upon oral motion at the beginning of the hearing. Such other persons will not be allowed into the hearing until the Court approves the request. Such persons shall not be entitled to participate but may do so with the permission of the Court. See RSA 169-C:14.
Rule 4.3 Open Hearings
Other than in those counties in which the legislature has adopted a presumption of open hearings, hearings under RSA 169-C are closed to the public. In those counties in which hearings under this chapter are presumed open, parties to the action must inform the court in writing before any hearing, or orally and on the record at the beginning of any hearing, if they believe the hearing should be closed to the public, in full or in part. See Chapter Law 134 (2006) pertaining to open hearings in Grafton, Rockingham and Sullivan Counties.
Rule 4.4 Notice and Right to be Heard — Foster Parents, Pre-Adoptive Parents, and Relative Caregivers
Notice and Right to be Heard– Foster Parents, Pre-Adoptive Parents, and Relative Caregivers: When a child is placed out of home, foster parents, pre-adoptive parents and/or relatives providing care for a child are entitled to notice of all review hearings, permanency hearings and post-permanency hearings and shall be allowed to be heard at these hearings, but shall not be given party status unless otherwise granted by the Court.
Rule 4.5 Consultation with Child Regarding Proposed Permanency Plan and/or Transition Plan
The child’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), guardian ad litem (GAL), and/or attorney, shall consult in an age-appropriate manner with the child about the child’s views of the proposed permanency plan and/or transition plan. The CASA, GAL or attorney shall report about the consultation to the court in writing and/or orally at a permanency hearing. Such consultation shall not preclude the child, at the child’s own request or the request of the Court, from attending and/or being heard at a permanency hearing.
Rule 5.1 Scope
The family division has jurisdiction of guardianship of minors, when there is not a related estate of the minor.
Rule 5.2 Proper Filing
A properly filed guardianship action includes a completed petition, a copy of the minor’s birth certificate (certified copy when filing pursuant to RSA 463:18-a for activated members of the armed services), the filing fee, a death certificate of any deceased parent of the minor, and completed NH State Police and DHHS background check forms for all members of the household who are eighteen (18) years or older.
Rule 5.3 Notice
Certified mail, return receipt requested, shall be used to provide notice to each parent individually, and to any person who has had principal custody or care of the minor during the sixty (60) days prior to the filing of the petition. The orders of notice shall be sent by regular first class mail to the following: the petitioner(s); the minor if fourteen (14) years of age or older; the person nominated to be guardian; any person named as a testamentary guardian in the will of the deceased parent; DHHS if there is a pending juvenile proceeding affecting the minor; and others as identified in the statute as may be appropriate.
Rule 5.4 Attendance at Hearing
Attendance at the Hearing : The parent(s) with legal custody are required to attend the hearing, even if they consent to the guardianship. A minor fourteen (14) years of age or older shall attend the hearing unless excused by the Court.
Rule 5.5 Reports of the Guardian
The guardian shall file a report on the status of the guardianship six (6) months after the initial appointment, twelve (12) months after the initial appointment, and annually thereafter. A late fee may be charged to a guardian for any report that is not filed on time.
Rule 5.6 Reports of the Parent
Either or both of the parents may file a statement or report with the court on or before each review date.
Rule 5.7 Termination of Guardianship
Any person, including the minor if fourteen (14) years of age or older, may petition the court to terminate a guardianship. The court will determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether substitution or supplementation of parental care and supervision is no longer needed to ensure the minor’s safety and physical and psychological well-being.
In addition to terminating a guardianship by Court order, guardianships terminate upon the death of the minor or upon the minor’s eighteenth (18th) birthday. The guardian must notify the court within thirty (30) days of either event. Guardianships may also terminate upon the minor’s adoption or emancipation. However, if the minor consents, jurisdiction may be extended beyond the eighteenth (18th) birthday if DHHS is the guardian and supports continued jurisdiction, and the minor is attending high school and considered likely to complete it. If extended, jurisdiction shall terminate if the minor revokes consent and such revocation is approved by the Court, completes high school or attains age twenty-one (21), whichever first occurs, or if DHHS revokes its consent and such revocation is approved by the Court. See RSA 463:15.
Rule 5.8 Confidentiality
The existence of a guardianship case or the fact that a guardianship hearing is on the docket is not confidential. However, guardianship hearings shall be closed to the public, except for persons other than the parties, their counsel, witnesses and agency representatives whom the Court may, in its discretion, admit. Records, reports and evidence shall be confidential to the extent that they contain information relating to the personal history or circumstances of the minor and the minor’s family . If any person other than a party wishes to review a case file, a motion must be filed and submitted to the Court for consideration.
Rule 6.1 Scope
The family division has jurisdiction of adoptions in conjunction with proceedings brought pursuant to RSA 169-C, RSA 170-C and RSA 463. Hence, its jurisdiction over surrenders pursuant to RSA 170-B is similarly restricted.
Rule 6.2 In Lieu of Termination Hearing
The surrender may be filed in lieu of the Court conducting a contested termination of parental rights hearing. Upon approval of the surrender, the termination hearing may be cancelled.
Rule 6.3 Background Information
Upon filing the surrender, the parent shall file information on the age and medical and personal backgrounds of the birth parents and the child. See RSA 170-B:9, III.
Rule 6.4 Notice
Upon filing the surrender, notice will be provided by the court by way of certified mail, return receipt requested, signed by the addressee only, to all persons entitled to receive notice as set forth in RSA 170-B:6. If notice by certified mail is not successful, or is not likely to be successful, the court may provide notice by alternate means.
Rule 6.5 Time to Request Hearing
Such persons shall have thirty (30) days from the date of the court’s notice to request a hearing. Failure to make a timely request for a hearing shall result in forfeiture of any parental rights.
Rule 6.6 Proper Signing of Surrender
The surrender must be signed by the parent in the presence of the Court, or upon prior approval of the Court, may be signed in the presence of another individual or judicial officer.
Rule 6.7 Parent Under Eighteen
If the surrendering parent is under the age of eighteen (18), the Court may require the assent of the minor’s parents or legal guardian.
Rule 6.8 Fraud or Duress
In the absence of fraud or duress, the surrender shall be final.
Rule 6.9 Withdrawal
A surrender may not be withdrawn unless the court is notified in writing prior to the issuance of the final decree of adoption. An evidentiary hearing on the request to surrender shall be conducted, but the rules of evidence shall not apply and the Court shall have discretion to determine who shall be permitted at the hearing. The Court may allow the withdrawal of the surrender only if it finds fraud or duress and that the withdrawal is in the best interests of the adoptee. If a withdrawal of one parent is authorized, the other parent shall be notified and given an opportunity to request, within thirty (30) days, that this parent’s surrender also be withdrawn.
Rule 7.1 Scope
The family division has jurisdiction of adoptions in conjunction with proceedings brought pursuant to RSA 169-C, RSA 170-C or RSA 463.
Rule 8.1 Scope
The family division has jurisdiction in termination of parental rights actions brought pursuant to RSA 170-C.
Rule 9.1 Scope
See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.2 Separate Petition Required
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.3 Jurisdiction
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.4 Proper Filing
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.5 Criminal Background Check
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.6 Notice
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.7 Minor Child Name Change
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.8 Hearing Not Required
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.9 Presence at Hearing of Older Child
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 9.10 Certificate of Change of Name
9.1 Scope: See Probate Rule 173.
Rule 10.1 Scope
The family division has jurisdiction in cases brought pursuant to RSA 173-B.
Rule 11.1 Original Nominations
(a) When a marital master position is to be filled, the Administrative Judge shall form a committee to evaluate each applicant in the manner it deems appropriate and which shall make a recommendation to the Administrative Judge of the Judicial Branch Family Division who shall determine, with the concurrence of the supreme court, the candidate(s) to be submitted to the Governor and Council for appointment.
(b) Term of Appointment and Conditions: The original term of appointment by Governor and Council shall be three years pursuant to RSA 490-B:7, III. Thereafter, the term of office shall be five years. The Administrative Judge of the Family Division may, at any time, consider and act on any grievance or complaint concerning a marital master and take whatever action is appropriate, including termination. Marital masters shall be bound by the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct and serve at the pleasure of the Administrative Judge of the Family Division.
Rule 11.2 Reappointment
(a) A marital master desiring to be reappointed at the expiration of the master’s original term, must file a request with the Administrative Judge of the Judicial Branch Family Division, no later than ninety (90) days prior to the expiration of the term.
(b) In making the decision to reappoint, the Administrative Judge shall review all performance evaluations conducted during the master’s term of office, conduct a personal interview with the master as deemed necessary, and consider any other relevant information received from any person concerning the master’s performance during the master’s term of office.
(c) Reappointment shall be at the discretion of the Administrative Judge of the Judicial Branch Family Division, with the concurrence of the supreme court, subject to such conditions as may be appropriate.
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