Do I really need a lawyer? Can’t I just use the fill-in-the-blank forms?
Divorce is one of the most stressful events, both emotionally and financially, that a person can go through. And, during this extraordinarily painful time, you have to make long-term parenting and financial decisions, governed by New Hampshire law, that will affect your future.
Perhaps a better question is not whether you “need” a lawyer, but rather how your long-term interests will be best protected. An attorney knows the law, knows court rules and filing deadlines, knows the local courts. A lawyer provides guidance, understanding and perspective as well. That knowledge, that experience, that perspective is what an attorney gives to you when she represents you. Having an attorney handle your case allows you to focus on taking care of yourself and your children, and rebuilding your life.
There are those fill-in-the-blank forms that you can find on the internet, but they do not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Attorney Elliott has represented clients in divorce and parenting matters for over 3 decades. She will be your advocate, your advisor, your ally. Call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss your circumstances.
Can one lawyer represent both people in a divorce?
No. It it is a conflict of interest for a lawyer to represent both parties in a divorce, or any other family law case. This rule protects each person by insuring that they receive legal advice focused solely on their interests.
How does my spouse find out I filed for divorce?
Your spouse will receive what is called a “10-day letter” from the court. This letter notifies the recipient that a divorce petition has been filed and gives the recipient 10 days to go to the courthouse and pick up their copy of the petition. If your spouse does not pick up their copy, the court will return it to you to either send the copy to your spouse by certified mail or have the sheriff deliver it.
Once the divorce petition has been given to the other party, important deadlines are set. If you have received a 10-day letter from the court, speaking with a lawyer is recommended. Call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss how to proceed.
How long does it take to get divorced?
Each case is different. There is no single answer for the length of time a case takes from start to finish. If a case is “uncontested”, it means that the parties agree on all issues. In general, uncontested cases take less time. A “contested” case, on the other hand, means that at least some issues are in dispute. A contested case can take longer because there must be a final hearing before a judge who makes the decisions about the contested issues.
Even though an uncontested case may take less time, it can be risky to reach a quick settlement, simply to be done with the divorce process. Entering into an agreement without knowing your rights can have long-term ramifications on parenting and financial matters.
What is Rule 1.25-A?
Rule 1.25-A is a court rule that requires both parties in a divorce or other family law case to exchange certain financial records and other documents with one another. The disclosure of this information to the other party is mandatory. If a person does not provide the required records to the other party, the other party can file a motion with the court requesting compliance or other relief.Although the court rule allows parties to agree to limit the documents they provide to one another, it may not be in a person’s interests to do so. Having up-to-date financial information is essential to reaching a fair agreement or requesting orders from the court.
Contact the Law Office of Jennifer P. Elliott to discuss your circumstances or for assistance with Rule 1.25-A compliance on a limited representation basis.
What is a Financial Affidavit? Do I have to fill one out?
A Financial Affidavit is a document which provides a detailed picture of a person’s financial circumstances including income, assets, insurance, debts and monthly expenses. Pursuant to Family Division Court Rule 2.16, it is mandatory for each party in a divorce case to file his/her own Financial Affidavit. Affidavits must be updated while a case is pending in court so that both the parties and the judge have current information.
The Financial Affidavit is key in divorce and family law cases. It is relied upon by the other party, and by the judge in issuing their orders. A person signs their Affidavit under oath, so the information listed must be accurate. It is essential that your Financial Affidavit be filled out correctly for these reasons.
Call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss your circumstances or for assistance with completion of your Financial Affidavit on a limited representation basis.
What is the Child Impact Seminar?
The Child Impact Seminar (“CIP”) is an informational seminar focusing on children and how parents can help them deal with divorce or legal separation. If you have minor children and are going through a divorce or involved in a parenting case, it is mandatory under New Hampshire law, RSA 458-D, for you to attend this seminar. The program is offered by various providers throughout the state. The provider issues a certificate of completion to verify your attendance. You do not have to go to the same seminar as the other parent. If a person fails to attend, the judge has the authority to issue appropriate orders against that person including a contempt finding, payment of a fine or imposition of a jail sentence.
The Court scheduled a Temporary Hearing in my case. What happens at that hearing?
The purpose for a temporary hearing is to establish orders that will remain in effect while the case is pending. Either person can ask the court to schedule a temporary hearing. This hearing is usually conducted by “offer of proof” which means that there is no testimony. Instead, each party or their divorce lawyer makes a brief presentation to the judge, providing background and the reasons for the orders they are proposing. The judge issues written temporary orders after the hearing which are mailed to the parties or their attorneys.
Temporary orders include parenting arrangements and child support, if the parties have minor children, and other matters such as occupancy of the house, responsibility for debts, payment of alimony, and insurance coverage, while the case is pending. The orders entered at a temporary hearing can set a precedent for the final orders, so it is important to know your rights and be prepared for the temporary hearing
If you have received a notice of temporary hearing from the court, call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss your circumstances.
My spouse and I agree that we will have equal residential responsibility (formerly known as physical custody) of our children. Does that mean there is no child support?
Although the parenting schedule can be a factor in deviating from the child support amount calculated under the NH child support guidelines, equal residential responsibility alone does not automatically result in a no child support order. In evaluating whether a no child support order is appropriate, a court may consider whether parents have agreed to share child-related expenses; whether the equal residential responsibility arrangement will reduce any fixed costs associated with raising children; or, if the parents have different incomes, whether the parent who earns less can still provide an equivalent lifestyle for the children.
Child support can have significant consequences when there is equal residential responsibility, whether you are not receiving adequate support or whether you are paying more than required. Call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss your circumstances and to talk about child support.
My spouse is going to keep the house after the divorce. How do I remove my name from the mortgage?
Having your name taken off the mortgage after the divorce is an important step that should not be ignored. This insures that you are no longer obligated to pay the mortgage, which protects your finances and is a factor a bank or other lender will consider in reviewing any future mortgage or loan applications. There are two primary methods of removing a person’s name from a mortgage – refinance of the mortgage or sale of the property. Signing a Quitclaim Deed transferring your interest in the property to your spouse does not take your name off the mortgage.
In general, property division, which includes the disposition of the marital residence, cannot be modified after the divorce. Because of that, it is best to talk with a divorce lawyer before making agreements on property so that your interests are not compromised. Call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss your circumstances.
My adult child is divorced and I am no longer allowed to see my grandchildren. Are there grandparents' rights in New Hampshire?
If a petition can be filed, to determine whether to order grandparent visitation, judges are required to consider a number of factors, including, whether the visitation would be in the child’s best interest; whether the visitation would interfere with the parent-child relationship; and, the nature of the relationship between the grandparent and the child.
If you are not able to visit with your grandchildren, call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss your circumstances and to review other alternatives such as mediation.
I lost my job and I won't be able to pay support. Is there anything I can do?
If you experience a change in circumstances, such as losing your job or having a significant cutback in your hours, a modification request may be filed with the court. In a modification case, a previous child support order can be changed by the judge if the person proves that there has been a change in circumstances which is substantial and unforeseeable.
The previous support order remains in effect until a new order is entered. If you have had a change in circumstances, it is best to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss modification.
What happens if the other party is not following a Court Order?
If a person does not abide by a court order, the other party can file a contempt action with the court. This step can be taken while the initial case is pending, or after a final order has been entered. Some examples of contempt filings are when a person fails to pay support, or will not sell real estate, or does not contribute to bills as ordered. If the judge agrees that a person is not complying with an order, the judge can find them in contempt, order them to comply, and sometimes order them to pay the other person’s attorney fees.
Non-compliance with a court order is serious. If the other party is not following a court order, or if you have received a filing saying that you are in contempt, it is recommended that you speak with a divorce lawyer. Call the law office of Jennifer P. Elliott at (603) 624-2345 or contact us online to discuss your circumstances.