Everything you need to know about New Hampshire child support laws, updated for 2020.
New Hampshire child support laws work under the assumption that upkeep is the responsibility of both parents, whether married on unmarried.
That means if your child lives in a different household or state, the law requires you to honor your monthly financial obligation. That raises the question, is the child support amount always fair? Are there ways to lower or increase support? And what can I do if there is a Contempt of Court order against me for nonsupport?
You will find all the answers below.
How to apply for child support in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, state law requires parents seeking support to petition the court for upkeep. That means you must present facts about the case to the court.
To do that, you must first locate child support services offices in your area here or call (603)271-6418.
What the state requires from you are the names and ages of the children, the custodial and non-custodial parent’s current address, information about aid received from the state, and proof of paternity.
Download The Child Support Application Form here to begin the process.
How is paternity determined in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire child support laws require paternity establishment before a support order is issued.
How is paternity established?
In New Hampshire, there are two ways to establish paternity, one, is via judicial determination. Two is when the father attests that he is the father.
To start the process, fathers should visit the DCSS (Division of Child Support Services) or call 1-800-852-3345.
Also, apart from child paternity establishment, the DCSS provides services including locating absent parents, establishing support orders, support collection, and support enforcement.
What to remember:
- Parents that receive public assistance also receive child support automatically.
- Caregivers can request child support through the DCSS or an attorney.
- Child support orders are issued after the paternity establishment.
- Both parents must pay child support.
- Support may extend through college.
How is child support calculated in New Hampshire?
In New Hampshire, the linked Child Support Guideline Table is used by the court to determine the presumptive child support obligation. What is important to remember is that the amount of support you receive is based on the parent’s combined monthly net incomes.
Monthly net income here is your salary or wages minus necessary deductions such as taxes.
What to remember:
- Gross income includes your salary, wages, bonuses, royalties, dividends, trusts, and all forms of income as per New Hampshire child support guidelines.
- If the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the judge will impute income.
- The judge may exclude temporary assistance, food stamps, and other government benefits from income.
- The parent who earns more pays more.
How is child support determined in New Hampshire?
In New Hampshire, the factors that affect award amounts are:
- The incomes of both parents.
- Health insurance.
- The cost of raising a child in the state.
- The number of children subject to support action.
How to change/modify child support in New Hampshire
Three years after a support order is issued, custodial and non-custodial parents in New Hampshire can request an increase or reduction in payments. But if the petitioning party shows a substantial continuing change in circumstances before the three years are up. Then the court may grant child support order changes.
After the three years, demonstrating a change in circumstances is no longer necessary to get a modification. However, that does not mean that the court’s award modifications on a whim. There must exist:
- Changes in either parent’s financial situation.
- Incarceration, ill health, or any other factor that affects your earnings.
- Involuntary job loss, pay cuts, and so on.
Should I get a lawyer for child support modifications?
If you have the resources, there is no harm in seeking help. On the other hand, if you are short of cash, either carefully read your county’s by-laws or consult with a legal professional.
Remember, the judge considers the best interests of the child, meaning, there is no guarantee that your request will win approval. But you can increase the odds by putting together a solid argument.
To get you started:
- Research how to file motions in the child support court.
- Study similar cases, attend hearings, watch videos, etc.
- And consult with a family court attorney when stuck.
What to remember:
- To get a modification, you must file a written request that shows a substantial change in circumstances.
- The court does not directly consider a New spouses’ income when awarding modification.
- Before income imputation, the judge considers the parent’s work history, education level, and occupation, trade, or skills.
- Remarriage alone is not enough to justify modification; the judge considers the needs of both parents.
What happens if you do not pay child support in New Hampshire?
When a parent does not pay child support, the DCSS or the court may take any of the following enforcement actions:
- License revocation: the DCSS can revoke paying parents occupational, professional, and, or driver’s license until the caregiver honors his/her obligation.
- Notify credit bureau: when the DCSS notifies credit bureaus of a parent’s failure to pay support, the caregiver’s credit score, mortgage, and finances are all affected.
- The DCSS can intercept the paying parent’s state, local, and federal tax returns.
- The DCSS can garnish child support from lottery winnings, or notify federal passport agencies to deny or revoke the delinquent parent’s passport.
- DCSS may also place liens on the delinquent parent’s property until the parent pays child support arrears.
Nonsupport Contempt of Court charges in New Hampshire
If DCSS action does not yield results, the courts might get involved. When that happens or when a receiving parent petitions the court for contempt charges. The paying parent must appear in court to explain his or her failure to pay.
What happens next depends on the argument the payor presents.
If the argument does not hold water, then the punishment is jail or a fine. On the other hand, if the argument is solid, for example, a crippling illness, the court will push for modification.
What to remember:
- The court may request the payer to cover the petitioner’s attorney fees.
- The court may refer some cases for criminal prosecution.
Is it a felony not to pay child support in New Hampshire?
Willful failure to pay child support is a crime across all states. In New Hampshire, the state punishes nonsupport on two levels. One, as a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail. And two, class B felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
The bad news does not end there. Meaning, the delinquent parent may also face probation, a fine, or a conditional or unconditional discharge.
The point is, if your financial circumstances change for any reason, contact the court, DCSS, your former partner, or attorney as early as possible or before arrears accumulate.
When does child support end in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire child support laws say that child support ends when the child turns 18 or when he or she graduates high school.
What about college?
Child support payments after 18 depend on your support order. That means if the parents voluntarily agree to provide support post 18, the court will uphold the agreement.
Therefore, read and understand any agreement before you consent or sign.
Voluntary termination of parental rights
In New Hampshire, state law allows parents to surrender their parental rights. For example, if the parent is too young or is behind bars, or does not want to be part of the child’s life
But remember, this option is irreversible, meaning the petitioning parent will have no say in the child’s upbringing.
What to remember:
- Surrendering parental responsibility happens during adoption, not to avoid child support.
- Giving up your parental rights extinguishes your financial obligation to the child.
- You must pay child support arrears even after termination.
Is emancipation an option in New Hampshire?
No, there is no emancipation law in New Hampshire.
Overall, the best option you have is to consult with a family court attorney in your area. Also, if you choose to represent yourself, make sure that you understand the legal process to improve your odds.
More New Hampshire Laws