How Do New Hampshire Courts Determine Child Custody?

Facing a divorce can be extremely stressful and challenging, and when children are involved, emotions often run high. New Hampshire family courts encourage separating or divorcing parents to share the responsibility and rights of raising children through joint-custody arrangements and parenting plans, though in special circumstances, custody may be awarded exclusively to one parent.

How do New Hampshire Courts Determine Child Custody?

New Hampshire now refers to child custody determinations as “parenting plans.” Family courts prefer that both parents be fully engaged in parenting and prefer creating parenting plans in which parents share responsibilities, though courts will award sole decision-making responsibilities to one parent when it is warranted. Family courts consider several factors in determining parenting plans, such as:

  • How well the child is adjusting to his or her community and school
  • The ability of the parents to communicate with each other
  • The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s developmental needs
  • The ability of each parent to foster a quality relationship with the other parent and child

When Will a New Hampshire Judge Award Sole Custody?

A New Hampshire judge will award sole custody if he or she finds that shared custody would be detrimental to the health of the child or children. For example, if one parent has abused the children or the other parent, a court could find that awarding joint custody is inappropriate.

Courts Make Determinations Based on the Best Interest of the Child

A factor test guides child custody decisions in New Hampshire. Family court judges consider the following factors when making determinations as to the child’s well-being:

  • The ability of each of the parents to provide adequate clothing, shelter, medical care, food, and a safe environment
  • The individual developmental needs of the child and each parent’s ability to meet those needs
  • The child’s ability to adjust to school
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the child with affection, love, nurturing, and guidance
  • Each parent’s ability to cooperate, communicate and make joint decisions
  • Any evidence of abuse
  • Each parent’s ability to foster a positive relationship with the child

Manchester, New Hampshire Family Law Attorneys

We understand that divorce and child custody issues can be emotionally charged and complicated. With over 60 years of combined legal experience, our family law attorneys effectively advocate on behalf of our clients. Contact our Manchester, New Hampshire law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation and consultation.