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Circuit Court Family Division Rules Table of Contents

 

RULES OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE -- FAMILY DIVISION


SECTION 2 -- DOMESTIC RELATIONS
    

2.1  Scope and Applicability:  The family division has jurisdiction over all divorces, parenting actions, legal separations, annulments, child support actions, separate maintenance actions, paternity, legitimation, registration of foreign judgments and decrees, uniform interstate family  support, administrative support violations, and any actions to change or enforce any of these orders once they become final.  These rules apply to divorce, legal separation, and parenting actions, and serve as guidance for the other case types listed above.

2.2  Application of New Hampshire Rules of Evidence: The New Hampshire Rules of Evidence do not apply to the actions listed above.  However, the Court in its discretion may utilize the New Hampshire Rules of Evidence to enhance the predictable, orderly, fair, and reliable presentation of evidence.

2.3  Beginning of Legal Action:

            A.  Petition.  All domestic relations actions begin with the filing of a petition.  A petition may be jointly filed by both parties.

            B.  Where to File Petition.  New petitions should be filed in the county in which the petitioner lives.  If there are multiple family division locations within a county, the petition is properly filed in the family division location for the town in which the petitioner resides, as outlined in RSA 490-D:4. If both parties reside within the same county, the petition may be filed at the family division location for the town of residence of either the petitioner or respondent.

            C.  Petition Caption.  Domestic relations actions shall be entitled “In the matter of …and…”, stating the names of the parties.  The first name shall be of the petitioner and the second shall be of the respondent. 

            D.  Petition Type.  The subject matter of the petition, such as petition for divorce, shall be stated in the title of the petition.

            E.  Petition Contents.  Petitions filed under these rules shall contain all information required on the petition forms posted on the judicial branch website at www.courts.state.nh.us and available at any family division location.

            F.  Proper Filing.  An action under this section is considered properly filed upon the court’s receipt of a completed individual or joint petition, a personal data sheet, and the correct filing fee.

            G.  Personal Data Sheet.  At the time of any initial filing, the filing party shall, and the responding party may, file a completed personal data sheet.  Should a party become aware of any change in addresses, telephone numbers, or employment during the pendency of a case or of any outstanding support order, that party shall notify the court of such change. Access to information contained in the personal data sheet shall be restricted to court personnel, the Office of Child Support, the court-appointed mediator, the guardian  ad litem , the parties, and counsel unless a party has requested on the data sheet that it not be disclosed to the other party.

            H.  Adultery/Co-Respondent.  All petitions and cross petitions for divorce or legal separation alleging adultery shall contain the name and address of the person with whom the party is accused of committing adultery, if known, and, if not, a statement to that effect.

2.4  Notice of Legal Action:

            A.  Joint Petitions.  Because joint petitions are signed and filed by both parties, no further notice or service is required.

            B.  Individual Petitions. Upon receipt of an individual petition, the court shall attach to the petition a Notice to Respondent (formerly orders of notice) and an appearance form.

                (1)  The court forwards a notice to the respondent, indicating that the petition has been filed and that the respondent or the respondent’s attorney may accept service of the petition at the court within ten (10) days.  A respondent’s attorney, who has filed an appearance, may request and accept service by mail provided the attorney files a receipt of service signed by the respondent within five (5) business days of the attorney’s receipt of the petition.

                (2)  If neither the respondent nor the attorney for the respondent accepts service of the petition as set forth above, the petition shall be forwarded to the petitioner for service on the respondent either by certified mail, restricted delivery, signed by the addressee only, or by sheriff; or, if the respondent is out of state, by an officer authorized to make service in the state where the respondent lives.  In all instances, the petitioner shall file the return receipt or the return of sheriff/officer service as proof of service.

            C.  If the above methods of service are neither feasible nor successful, the Court, upon motion of the petitioner, will consider alternate methods of service.

            D.  Notice to Co-Respondent.  Any person not a party to the proceedings who is accused of adultery shall be served with an attested copy of the petition with the orders of notice. Such service is not required if the co-respondent resides outside the state, in which case notice by regular US mail is acceptable.

 2.5  Response to Legal Action:

            A.  Appearance:  Any party intending to participate in the case must file a written Appearance within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the Notice to Respondent.

            B.  Responsive Pleadings.  No responsive pleading is required of the respondent, unless alimony or other affirmative relief is requested; provided, however, that the court may, as justice may require, allow a respondent to seek alimony or other affirmative relief despite the failure to file a timely responsive pleading.  If the respondent chooses to file a response, with or without a cross-petition, it shall be filed in the timeframes set forth in the Clerk’s notice. A cross-petition need not be served in hand or by sheriff, but shall contain a certificate that the respondent has delivered a copy of the cross-petition to the petitioner by pre-paid mail.

            C.  Notice to Co-Respondent.  Any person not a party to the proceedings who is accused of adultery shall be served with an attested copy of the cross-petition and orders of notice. Such service is not required if the co-respondent resides outside the state, in which case notice by regular US mail is acceptable.

2.6  Default and Dismissal:

            A.  Default.  If the court has not received a timely appearance or response from the respondent, and the petitioner has requested the entry of a default, a default hearing shall be scheduled not less than thirty (30) days from the petitioner’s written request, provided the petitioner has filed a military affidavit, vital statistics form, non-cohabitation affidavit, affidavit of impossibility, uniform support order and child support guideline worksheet if child support is to be ordered, proposed decree, parenting plan, and a current financial affidavit, together with a certificate that copies of each of the foregoing items have been forwarded to the other party.  If a non-cohabitation affidavit is not filed with the court as required by this rule, the hearing may proceed following at least fourteen (14) days’ notice from the court to the other party that the matter has been scheduled for hearing.  After a default, a motion to substantively amend the proposed orders will only be considered by the Court after service upon the other party.

            B.  Dismissal.  The Court may dismiss a petition without prejudice due to insufficiency of allegations or service. The order of dismissal shall state the reason for the dismissal.

2.7  Person Asserting Interest in Legal Action:

            A.  Asserted by a Person who is not a Party to the Case.  Any person asserting an interest in the proceedings may seek to intervene as a party in the action by filing a motion to intervene.  The motion must include a brief statement concerning the person’s relationship to the subject matter of the case and reason for seeking intervention.

            B.  Asserted by a Party to the Case.  Any party to an action may file a motion to join another person/entity to the action by setting forth a brief statement concerning that person or entity’s relationship to the subject matter of the case and reason for including that person to the action. If the Court joins the person or entity as a party to the case, that person may be ordered by the Court to appear in the case.

2.8     Presence of Children:  A child shall not be brought to court as a witness, or to attend a hearing, or be involved in depositions without prior order of the Court allowing that child’s participation.  To obtain permission of the Court for the presence of a child in such a proceeding, good cause must be shown.  

2.9  Emergency and Ex Parte Relief:

            A.  Emergency.  If either party believes a hearing is needed prior to participation in mediation, that party shall file a request for an immediate hearing, identifying the emergency and the issues to be addressed at the hearing.

            B.  Ex Parte.  Subject to the provisions of RSA 458:16 and RSA 461-A:9, an emergency order may be granted without written or oral notice to the other party or attorney only if it clearly appears to the Court from specific facts shown by sworn statement or by the verified petition that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage shall result to the applicant, the children, or the marital estate before the other party or attorney can be heard.  If the other party is represented or has filed an appearance, normally no relief will be granted without notice to the other party and an opportunity to be heard. An ex parte order may be requested by motion of the petitioner/attorney prior to service of the petition.  A hearing shall be scheduled within thirty (30) days of the issuance of an ex parte order.  In addition, the party against whom the orders are issued may file a written request with the court for a hearing on such orders, which hearing shall be held no later than five (5) days after the request is received.

2.10  Child Impact Seminar:  In any action involving married or unmarried parents of minor children, the parties shall attend the child impact seminar as required by RSA 458-D as soon as possible after the commencement of the action but no later than forty-five (45) days after service of the petition upon the respondent. Parties shall not be required to attend the same seminar if there is a domestic violence order in effect under RSA 173-B.  Upon a party’s failure to complete the seminar according to this rule, the Court may take appropriate action including, but not limited to, actions for contempt.

2.11   First Appearance:

            A.  A First Appearance will be held within 30 days after service has been accomplished in divorces and legal separations in which there are minor children and in parenting petition cases.  At First Appearance, a judge will give information about the court process and mediation.  Before the parties leave First Appearance, the court will schedule mediation or the next court event.

            B.  Attendance by both parents is required, and is expected at the same First Appearance, unless good cause exists to allow separate attendance.  If a protective order pertaining to the parents is in effect, each parent shall attend a separate First Appearance.  Attendance by attorneys is encouraged but optional.

            C.  If parties or their counsel believe unique circumstances exist pertaining to their attendance at First Appearance, motions to be excused from attending First Appearance, in which the unique circumstances are specifically described, may be filed.

2.12   Case Manager Conference:  In any case in which there is at least one self-represented party, the court may schedule a case manager conference.  The case manager will explain court documents that will be required depending on the type of action.  If the parties are in agreement, the case manager may assist the parties in putting their agreement into writing on court forms.

2.13  Mediation:

            A.  In divorce actions and legal separation actions in which there are minor children, and in parenting petition cases, parties shall be ordered to participate in mediation unless the Court finds that  mediation would not be appropriate due to factor(s) listed in RSA 461-A:7. 

            B.  Participation in mediation may be ordered in new divorces and legal separations without minor children and in those divorce, legal separation, or parenting cases in which final orders have been issued if those cases return to court for further Court orders.

            C.  If there is a finding of domestic violence as defined in RSA 173-B:1, and if the parties agree to mediate despite the existence of the protective order, all mediation sessions shall occur at the courthouse.

            D.  The court will be involved in scheduling the initial mediation session in each case.  Thereafter, mediation will be scheduled through the parties and the mediator. Parties must cooperate with the mediator to establish the next mediation date at the end of each mediation session.

            E.  Attorneys may attend mediation sessions with their clients, provided the mediator is able to establish a balanced opportunity for both parties to participate in the mediation.

            F.  Mediation will be ordered only with mediators certified pursuant to RSA 328-C who have contracted with the Judicial Branch.  However, parties may arrange private mediation with a mediator of their choice, regardless of whether these mediators have contracts with the judicial branch.

            G.  Payment of mediator fees shall be pursuant to Supreme Court Rule48-B.

2.14  Alternative Dispute Resolution: At any time prior to the final hearing, the Court may order the parties to engage in mediation if deemed appropriate by the Court, or to engage in other forms of alternative dispute resolution if agreed upon by the parties.

2.15  Appointment of Guardian ad Litem :  A guardian ad litem may be appointed at the request of either party or upon order of the Court.  Any guardian ad litem appointed under this rule shall be certified by the Guardian ad Litem Certification Board.  The Court shall apportion payment between the parties.  Written reports of the guardian ad litem  shall be kept in an envelope marked confidential within the court file, and shall only be disclosed to parties or attorneys to the action.  Absent good cause shown, a guardian  ad litem  shall not be appointed while the parties are engaged in mediation.

2.16  Financial Affidavits:

            A.  In all cases in which support and/or division of property (temporary, permanent, or otherwise) and/or payment of the guardian ad litem or mediator are in any way involved, each party shall file with the court and with the other party a typewritten or legibly handwritten financial affidavit which contains the information requested on the family division financial affidavit.  Such affidavits shall be exchanged with the other party and filed with the court seven (7) days prior to any hearing, unless excused by the Court.  If there has been no change in financial circumstances since the filing of the previous affidavit, a party may file an Affidavit of No Change. If, by the time of the hearing, there is any change in financial circumstances, a new financial affidavit must be filed and exchanged as soon as the change is known.

            B.  Each party shall indicate all sources and amounts of income and expenses, and shall disclose the identification and value of each asset of the party, whether owned individually, jointly, or in any other form.  If the exact value of an asset is not known, the party shall disclose its identification and approximate value, indicating that the value is an estimate only.  The parties shall be under a continuing order to make full and complete disclosure to each other of the identification and value of all assets of the parties, and any changes to the identification or value of the assets during the pendency of the case.  Intentional failure to disclose any asset at the time of the scheduling conference, or at any time thereafter when an asset is discovered, shall be considered a violation of this rule subject to appropriate action by the Court, including the award of that asset to the other party.

            C.  Financial affidavits filed in divorce, legal separation, annulment, or parenting petition cases shall be confidential to non-parties.  Access to such financial affidavits shall be pursuant to Family Division Rule 1.30.

2.17  Child Support Documents:

        The family division Uniform Support Order, Uniform Support Order-Standing Order, and Instructions for Completion of the Uniform Support Order shall be used in all cases involving dependent children in which child support may be ordered.  These forms should not be abbreviated and no provision shall be deleted.  If a particular provision does not apply, then the words “not applicable” should be used.

        In cases in which the parties are in agreement on support issues, only one child support guideline worksheet and one uniform support order shall be filed.  If the parties are not in agreement, each party shall file a child support guideline worksheet and a proposed uniform support order.

        In cases involving child support where the obligor has failed to file a financial affidavit or otherwise disclose the obligor’s income, the obligee should make a reasonable estimate of the obligor’s income, use that amount in calculating support on the child support guideline worksheet, and include a statement to that effect in the proposed uniform support order.

        Stipulations, agreements, or proposed decrees must state whether the child support award is in accordance with the child support guidelines and, if not, explain the proposed deviation.

2.18  Parenting Plans:

            A.  Requirements:

                (1)  Parenting plans shall be filed in all divorce and legal separation actions where there are minor children, and in all parenting actions.  Parents shall work together to agree upon as many provisions of the parenting plan as possible.  Exceptions to the requirement that parents work together in parenting plans include cases where there is evidence of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or as otherwise excused by the Court.

                (2)  For all temporary and final hearings requiring parenting plans, the parties are expected to file a joint parenting plan, which includes all provisions with which they are in agreement.  The parties shall file separate proposed parenting plans for those parenting items which are in dispute.  Additionally, parenting plans must be filed in all actions to modify final parenting plans or prior final parenting-related orders issued in divorce, legal separation, or parenting actions.

                (3)  Parties may use the parenting plan form provided by the court or may create their own parenting plan.  However, parties who create their own parenting plans must adhere to the standard order of lettered paragraphs set forth in these rules.

                (4)  All parenting plans required by this rule shall be filed as separate documents, signed by one or more parties.

            B.  Standard Order of Paragraphs for Parenting Plan.

                (1)  All parenting plans shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.

                    (a)  Decision-Making Responsibility

                        (i)  Major Decisions

                        (ii)  Day-to-Day Decisions

                        (iii)  Other

                    (b)  Residential Responsibility & Parenting Schedule

                        (i)  Routine Schedule

                        (ii)  Holiday and Birthday Planning

                        (iii)  Three-day weekends

                        (iv)  Vacation Schedule

                        (v)  Supervised Parenting Time

                        (vi)  Other Parental Responsibilities

                    (c)  Legal Residence of a Child for School Attendance

                    (d)  Transportation and Exchange of the Child(ren)

                    (e)  Information Sharing and Access, Including Telephone and Electronic Access

                        (i)  Parent-Child Telephone Contact

                        (ii)  Parent-Child Written Communication

                    (f)  Relocation of a Residence of a Child

                    (g)  Procedure for Review and Adjustment of Parenting Plan

                    (h)  Method(s) for Resolving Disputes

                    (i)  Other Parenting Agreements Attached

                (2) For any of the above, “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.

2.19  Temporary hearing:

            A.  Subject to the rules regarding mediation, the Court may schedule a temporary hearing if one is requested by either party.  The notice of this hearing shall indicate the amount of time allotted for the hearing, generally thirty (30) minutes. Temporary hearings shall be conducted by offers of proof. Parties shall comply with the provisions of Family Division Rule 1.28 pertaining to Offers of Proof.

            B.  Motions for extended or evidentiary temporary hearings shall be heard at the time specified in the notice of hearing, unless ruled upon in advance by the Court.

            C.  If a temporary hearing is scheduled, a scheduling conference shall generally also be held at the same date and time.  In the event a temporary agreement is reached, the parties must still appear for the scheduling conference.

            D.  Seven (7) days prior to the temporary hearing, the parties shall file and exchange financial affidavits and proposed temporary decrees; and if minor children are involved, agreed upon and proposed parenting plans, uniform support orders, and child support worksheets.

            E.  No agreement for temporary orders shall be approved without the current financial affidavit of each party, or an affidavit of impossibility, having been filed.

2.20  Scheduling Conference:  A scheduling conference may be scheduled if the other party has filed an appearance and the matter has not been settled.  At the scheduling conference, the Court may (1) refer the parties to mediation, (2) appoint a guardian ad litem  for the child(ren), (3) issue discovery orders, and (4) determine the future schedule of the case, including the dates for pretrial, status, motion, final and/or other hearings, as well as issue other orders necessary to the further scheduling of the case.  Counsel and parties must be prepared at the scheduling conference to set specific dates for each event.  Dates established shall not be extended except in extraordinary circumstances.

2.21  Pretrial Conference:

            A.  A pretrial conference will generally be held prior to the final hearing to identify contested issues, identify witnesses, mark exhibits, exchange documents, and complete any other matters the Court deems appropriate, including setting further conference and/or hearing dates.  At the pretrial conference, the parties shall file and exchange pretrial statements, current financial affidavits, and proposed decrees; and if there are minor children, child support worksheets, uniform support orders, and agreed upon and proposed parenting plans.  Following the pretrial conference, the court shall not accept modifications to documents presented at the pretrial conference unless the modified documents have been exchanged within a reasonable time before final hearing. This rule shall be strictly enforced.

            B.  In divorce actions, legal separation actions, and parenting cases to the extent applicable, pretrial statements must include:

                (1)  A list of disputed issues;

                (2)  Special circumstances under child support guidelines;

                (3)  Factors justifying sole decision-making responsibility;

                (4)  Factors justifying unequal property division;

                (5)  Circumstances justifying alimony;

                (6)  Unresolved discovery issues;

                (7)  Valuation(s) agreement status/values;

                (8)  A list of witnesses, including expert witnesses;

                (9)  A list of exhibits;

                (10)  Estimated time for final hearing;

                (11)  Likelihood of settlement; and

                (12)  Special circumstances affecting trial scheduling.

2.22  Uncontested Final hearing For Divorce or Legal Separation:  A decree of divorce may be issued without conducting a final hearing, and without the presence of the parties, if all required documents have been filed, both parties have waived, in writing, their attendance at the final hearing, and the Court is satisfied with the clarity of the documents submitted.

2.23  Settlements and Agreements:

            A.  All stipulations and agreements shall be typed and signed by the parties and, if represented by counsel, by attorneys for the parties.  The Court may accept handwritten agreements, but may require the parties to file a typewritten substitute (conformed copy) with the court within ten (10) days.  A typewritten substitute does not need to contain signatures.

            B.  Whenever the Clerk receives a Mediation Report indicating that a case has settled, or written notice from a party or an attorney that a case has settled, the parties shall have thirty (30) days in which to file all required settlement documents.  If the documents are not filed within this timeframe, the Court shall take such action as justice may require, including dismissal of the case where appropriate.

            C.  No agreement for temporary or final orders shall be approved without a current financial affidavit of each party having been filed, or an affidavit indicating that there has been no change in the financial status of the party since the last time the party filed a financial affidavit.

2.24  Contested Final hearing:

            A.  For final hearings which were not preceded by a pretrial conference, the parties shall, unless excused by the Court, file and exchange no later than thirty (30) days before the final hearing, the following:

                (1)  list of witnesses

                (2)  copies of all exhibits to be offered at final hearing

                (3)  proposed final decrees

                (4)  where minor children are involved, an agreed upon parenting plan on those issues to which the parties agree, proposed parenting plans for the issues not agreed upon, child support guidelines worksheets, and proposed uniform support orders.

            B.  In addition to the requirement for submitting documents at a pretrial conference, or in the event a pretrial conference was not held as outlined above, updated financial affidavits, or affidavits of no financial change if appropriate, shall be filed and exchanged seven days prior to the final hearing.

            C.  Seven (7) days prior to the final hearing, the parties shall submit jointly prepared agreements and parenting plans on all issues which are not in dispute, and a jointly filed list of personal property, indicating those items which the parties agree each may have, and those items which remain in dispute.

            D.  Failure to disclose the identity of a witness in accordance with these rules may preclude the party from offering the testimony of that witness at the final hearing.  Failure to list and exchange an exhibit in accordance with these rules may result in the Court’s denying the admission of the exhibit.

            E.  The parties are expected to communicate with each other in advance of the final hearing with respect to the sharing and management of the allotted hearing time. The Court reserves the right to participate in this process by conducting a trial management conference.

2.25  Vital Statistics Form.  No divorce, legal separation, or annulment shall be heard on its merits, or a final agreement approved, until a completed typewritten vital statistics report is filed with the court by the petitioner/attorney.  Access to information contained in the vital statistics report shall be restricted to court personnel, the parties, and counsel.

2.26  Decrees in divorce or legal separation:

            A.  Temporary.  All temporary agreements and proposed decrees shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.  “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.

                (1)  Type of Case

                (2)  Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order

                (3)  Tax Exemptions for Children

                (4)  Guardian ad Litem Fees

                (5)  Alimony

                (6)  Health Insurance for Spouse

                (7)  Life Insurance

                (8)  Motor Vehicles

                (9)  Furniture and Other Personal Property

                (10)  Retirement Plans and Other Tax-Deferred Assets

                (11)  Other Financial Assets

                (12)  Business Interests of the Parties

                (13)  Division of Debt

                (14)  Marital Home

                (15)  Other Real Property

                (16)  Restraints against the Property

                (17)  Restraining Order

                (18)  Other Requests

            B.  Final.  All final agreements and proposed decrees shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.  “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.

                (1)  Type of Case

                (2)  Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order

                (3)  Tax Exemptions for Children

                (4)  Guardian ad Litem Fees

                (5)  Alimony

                (6)  Health Insurance for Spouse

                (7)  Life Insurance

                (8)  Motor Vehicles

                (9)  Furniture and Other Personal Property

                (10)  Retirement Plans and Other Tax-Deferred Assets

                (11)  Other Financial Assets

                (12)  Business Interests of the Parties

                (13)  Division of Debt

                (14)  Marital Home

                (15)  Other Real Property

                (16)  Enforceability after Death

                (17)  Signing of Documents

                (18)  Restraining Order

                (19)  Name Change

                (20)  Other Requests

2.27  Decrees in Parenting Petition Actions:

        All agreements and proposed decrees in parenting actions shall be set forth in the following order of paragraphs.  “N/A” may be used to denote paragraphs that do not apply to a particular situation.

                (1)  Parenting Plan and Uniform Support Order

                (2)  Tax Exemptions for Children

                (3)  Guardian ad Litem Fees

                (4)  Life Insurance

                (5)  Enforceability after Death

                (6)  Restraining Order

                (7)  Other Requests

2.28  Qualified Domestic Relations Orders:  Access to information contained in the qualified domestic relations order shall be restricted to court personnel, the parties, and counsel.

2.29  Effective Dates:

            A.  Uncontested Matters.  Decrees in uncontested cases where the parties have filed a permanent agreement shall become final on the date signed by the judge pursuant to RSA 490-D:9, unless otherwise specified by the Court.

            B.  Contested and Defaulted Matters.  In contested cases or upon the default of either party, where no post-decree motion has been filed, the decree will not become final until the thirty-first (31st) day from the date of the Clerk’s notice of decision.  If a timely appeal is filed, the decree will not become final until the expiration of the appeal period pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 7.  If a timely post-decree motion is filed, and there is no appeal taken, the decree becomes final thirty (30) days from the Court’s action on the post-decree motion.

            C.  Inactive Cases.  All domestic relations cases which have been placed on hold by request of the parties shall be dismissed after six (6) months unless there is a request by a party to reactivate the case, or a request for a further extension for good cause.

            D.  Once a decree becomes final, any further request for relief must be by petition, accompanied by a filing fee and a personal data sheet, with notice given to the other party, as set forth in Family Division Rule 2.4.  Prior to a decree becoming final, no filing fee is required, and notice may be provided by regular US mail.

2.30  Modification of Final Decree:

            A.  General.  After a decree becomes final, either party may petition the court to change the final court order in their case.  The petition must be provided to the other party as though it were a new case, with service to be accomplished as set forth in Family Division Rule 2.4.  Regardless of which party files the petition, the parties will maintain original party designations.  The original petitioner is always the petitioner, and the original respondent is always the respondent, even though the respondent may be the party requesting change.

            B.  Proper Filing.  A properly filed petition to change the court order includes: A Petition to Change Court Order that states the names, dates of birth, and address(es) of the parties; the names and dates of birth the parties’ children; the parts of the Court’s order that are being requested to be changed; the specific changes that are being sought; reason(s) why the Court should change the order; a statement about the receipt of public/medical assistance; a personal data sheet; and the filing fee.

            C.  Where to File Petitions to Change Court Order.

                (1)  A Petition to Change Court Order that refers to a family division order should be brought in the family division location that issued the order.

                (2)  A Petition to Change Court Order that refers to a superior court order issued before the existence of the family division should be filed in the family division location where it would have been filed under Family Division Rule 2.3 B if the family division had been in existence at the time of original filing.

            D.  Mediation.  If the issues raised in the petition are not resolvable at the first post-decree hearing, the Court may order the parties to engage in mediation before scheduling further hearings.

            E.  By Agreement.  If the parties agree to change the final order, they may file an agreement with the court.  No petition or service is required.  The Court, in its discretion, may approve an agreement to change the final order without a hearing.

            F.  Legal Separation To Divorce.  Parties may agree in writing to change a decree of legal separation to one of divorce, subject to the Court’s determination that justice requires such a change.

2.31  Enforcement of Court Order:

            A.  General.  Any party may request that another party be found in contempt for violating an order of the Court by way of motion or petition, as the case may require.

            B.  Requirements.

                (1)  Open cases.  When a contempt action is brought in an open case, a proper filing includes: A Motion for Contempt that explains what court order is believed to have been violated; what specific conduct is alleged to have occurred in violation of the court order; and what relief is being requested of the Court. No filing fee is required.  Notification to all parties may be accomplished by regular US mail.

                (2)  Closed cases.  When a contempt action is brought in a closed case, a proper filing includes:  A Petition for Contempt that explains what court order is believed to have been violated; what specific conduct is alleged to have occurred in violation of the court order; and what relief is being requested of the Court. A filing fee and personal data sheet are required. Notice to the party alleged to be in contempt must be accomplished by sheriff’s service in New Hampshire, or by any person authorized to make service if done outside of New Hampshire.  Notice to other parties of the original action may be by regular US Mail.

            C.  Attachments, Arrests, Incarceration.  Attachments or arrests and incarceration for civil contempt may be ordered by the Court upon a finding of the violation of any Court order, after notice and an opportunity to be heard.  Parties may be arrested upon Court order and required to post bonds for appearance and compliance with court orders in any case where it shall be deemed necessary.


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