In New Hampshire, both parents have an obligation to support their children. In the event of divorce, the Court is authorized to issue orders requiring one parent to pay money to the other parent for the support of their children. The money payment from one parent to another parent for the children is called "child support."
The parent paying the child support is called the "obligor" and the parent receiving the child support is called the "obligee."
RSA 458-C is the child support law in New Hampshire and provides that the purpose of the law is to:
establish a uniform system to be used in the determination of the amount of child support, to minimize the economic consequences to children, and to comply with applicable federal law by using specific guidelines based on the following principles:
- Both parents shall share responsibility for economic support of the children.
- The children in an obligor's initial family are entitled to a standard of living equal to that of the obligor's subsequent families.
- The percentage of net income paid for child support should vary according to the number of children and, with limited exemptions, not according to income level.
How is child support calculated?
In New Hampshire, the Court uses a set formula to calculate the amount of child support to be paid from one parent to the other. This formula is called the Child Support Guidelines. These Child Support Guidelines apply in all child support issues regardless of whether the case is at the temporary hearing stage, at the final hearing or a modification of a prior order.
To determine child support, the parties' net income is multiplied by the percentage corresponding to the number of children. The percentages are:
- One child = twenty-five percent (25%)
- Two children = thirty-three percent (33%)
- Three children = forty percent (40%)
- Four or more children = forty-five (45%)
There is a detailed formula for determining what items are included and what items are deductible to arrive at the parties' net income.
At every Court hearing where child support is in dispute, the parents are required to provide the court with a Child Support Guideline Worksheet showing how the child support amount is calculated.
See RSA 458-C:3-a
Is the Child Support Guideline amount mandatory? Are there special circumstances that can change the Child Support Guideline amount?
In New Hampshire, the Child Support Guideline calculation is presumed to be the correct amount of support owed, subject to a parent's ability to argue for an adjustment in the amount of support. The adjustment can be an upward or downward adjustment in the amount of support based upon "special circumstances."
"Special circumstances" can be used as a basis to adjust the amount of guideline child support. Those special circumstances are set forth in RSA 458-C:5(I).
The law in New Hampshire provides that "special circumstances" include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Ongoing extraordinary medical, dental or education expenses, including expenses related to the special needs of a child, incurred on behalf of the involved children.
(b) Significantly high or low income of the obligee or obligor.
How Long Does Child Support Last?
In New Hampshire, child support is payable until the child turns 18 or terminates their High School education whichever is later, or the child is married or becomes a member of the armed services. The Court has the ability to extend child support for a disabled child.
When can I modify child support?
In New Hampshire, child support orders are modifiable every three years after the last order for support without the need to show "a substantial change in circumstance." A party can request a modification of child support at any time based upon a "substantial change in circumstances."
If I have my child fifty percent (50%) of the time, do I still have to pay child support?
In New Hampshire, an equal or approximately equal parenting schedule is not a ground, in and of itself, for an adjustment to the child support amount. The Court may consider the parenting schedule along with other factors, such as whether the parties have agreed to appropriation of variable expenses for the children; whether the schedule results in the reduction of fixed costs by the obligee parent; and whether the income of the lower-earning parent will allow the parent to meet the costs of childrearing in a style that is similar to the other parent.
RSA 458-C:5(I)(h)(1)-(2) provides:
(h) Parenting schedule.
- Equal or approximately equal parenting residential responsibilities in and of itself shall not eliminate the need for child support and shall not by itself constitute ground for an adjustment.
- In considering requests for adjustments to the application of the child support guidelines based on the parenting schedule, the court may consider the following factors:
- (A) Whether, in cases of equal or approximately equal residential responsibility, the parties have agreed to the specific apportionment of variable expenses for the children, including but not limited to education, school supplies, day care, after school, vacation and summer care, extracurricular activities, clothing, health insurance costs and uninsured health costs, and other child-related expenses.
- (B) Whether the obligor parent has established that the equal or approximately equal residential responsibility will result in a reduction of any of the fixed costs of child rearing incurred by the obligee parent.
- (C) Whether the income of the lower earning parent enables that parent to meet the costs of child rearing in a similar or approximately equal style to that of the other parent.
Is a new spouse's income included in child support?
My children's father has remarried, is his new wife's income includable for child support calculation?
Usually, no. In New Hampshire, the law provides that the new spouse's income is not includable for child support unless the obligor parent is voluntarily underemployed.
RSA 458-C:2(b) provides that:
(b) The income of either parent's current spouse shall not be considered as gross income to the parent unless the parent resigns from or refuses employment or is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, in which case the income of the spouse shall be imputed to the parent to the extent that the parent had earned income in his or her usual employment.
Getting Fair Treatment
It is important that children get the support they need, but it is also important that an individual is not unreasonably or unfairly burdened with the payments. Anyone going through a divorce in New Hampshire should discuss their legal options with a Family Law attorney.
The experienced Family Law attorneys at Tenn And Tenn, P.A. have a long history of handling child support cases in New Hampshire. Our experienced child support attorneys know how to make sure that children get the support they need and that parental rights are protected. To discuss how New Hampshire child support laws could affect you and your family, please call our offices today at (888) 332-5855 to speak with our Family Law lawyers.
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