Child Custody in New Hampshire
One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce is determining responsibility for children and parenting rights. The New Hampshire child custody attorneys of Tenn And Tenn, P.A. have years of experience litigating child custody disputes. If you are undergoing a child custody dispute, contact the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Tenn And Tenn.
The Court Determines Parental Rights and Responsibilities
In New Hampshire, courts determine parental rights and responsibilities by evaluating the best interest of the child. While a divorce may be between two partners, it is important to make sure the children of the family are well taken care of. Courts in New Hampshire feel it best for both parents to support their children, but at what level is determined by examining several factors including income, family history, and other resources.
The rights and responsibilities of each parent – which include custody and visitation – are set out in a document called a Parenting Plan. Each Parenting Plan generally addresses:
- Decision-making and residential responsibility;
- Contact information for the parents;
- The child’s legal address for school attendance;
- A parenting schedule that addresses holidays, weekends, birthdays, and vacations;
- A protocol for transportation and exchange of the child;
- Relocation of either parent;
- A procedure for review and adjustment of the plan; and
- A method for resolving future disputes.
Decision-Making Responsibility Can be Jointly Held
One of the most important aspects of the parenting plan is decision-making responsibility. In New Hampshire, joint decision-making responsibility is generally presumed to be in the best interest of the child, but the court can award decision-making authority to a single parent if the circumstances warrant. In many cases, when the parents agree to joint decision-making, the court will award it; however, the court is not required to do so. If the court rejects joint decision-making responsibility, it will provide its reasoning.
If the parents do not agree to joint decision-making responsibility, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s best interests. A guardian ad litem is someone the court appoints to represent the interests of the child or children in the family. The court can then decide whether to award joint decision-making responsibility or award it to a single parent. Again, if awarded to a single parent, the judge will provide her reasoning for that decision
Parents May Share Residential Responsibility
Residential responsibility is another important decision made by the court. Residential responsibility can be joint, meaning that the child lives approximately half the time with each parent. The judge may also award primary residential responsibility, which means that the child lives primarily with one parent and with the other for some more limited amount of time. A child living with one parent during the school week and alternate weekends with another parent is a common example of this situation. Finally, the judge could also award sole residential responsibility to one parent. As always, residential responsibility must be made considering only the best interest of the child.
Protect Your Parental Rights
While the best interest of the child is the only factor considered in determining parental rights and responsibilities, it is important for a parent going through a divorce to be represented by a knowledgeable attorney. If you are going through a divorce, contact the New Hampshire child custody lawyers of Tenn And Tenn, P.A. We will fight to help protect your rights. Call (603) 624-3700 or email us to schedule a consultation today.