In certain circumstances, orders that have been made regarding the parental rights and other limited issues involving children can be changed. You must file a Petition to Change Court Order.
A. General instructions for the Process
- County refers to the county where you are going to file your petition.
- Please note that your signature on the petition must be notarized.
- You must also complete a Personal Data Sheet to file with your Petition. Make sure to mark the appropriate box under your name if you are concerned about your safety and do not want personal information disclosed to the other party.
- You should call the court to determine the correct filing fee. There are limited circumstances under which the court can waive a fee.
- You may be asked to complete a financial affidavit and should be prepared to supply information regarding your income, employment, monthly expenses and life, health and dental insurance. You will be required to supply a copy of your latest income tax returns or your most recent pay stubs.
- After filing the petition, the court will send you Orders of Notice that contain important information for both parties. It is critical that you read this information carefully to understand the process.
- You will need to make arrangements for the other parent to be served with the Petition and the Orders of Notice. To do this, bring all of the paperwork to the sheriffs department. You will have to pay the sheriff to serve the papers. The sheriff will tell you the cost.
- Once the sheriff has served the other parent, the sheriff will send you a Return of Service that verifies the other parent has been given a copy of the petition and Orders of Notice. You must send in this return to the court immediately.
- If the sheriff cannot deliver the paperwork, the sheriff will let you know and you should call the court to find out what to do next.
If at this point, you both agree on all important issues, you may write a letter requesting a final hearing. The following documents will be required for a final hearing:
- An agreement that includes provisions for what the new order should say.
- Both parties may also be required to file a financial affidavit. Be advised that some courts may require you to complete the affidavit on their own green form. There are instructions included on this form that you should pay particular attention to.
- You may also have to complete a Uniform Support Order signed by both parties. There are instructions included on this form that must be followed.
- You may also have to complete a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. For help in calculating the amount of child support in your case, go to the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child Support Services website and use their DHHS Child Support Modification Kit (This link takes you to DHHS's site. The worksheet calculator link can be found here).
B. Contested case
Your case is contested when you cannot agree on one or more important issues.
Once you have filed your petition, there are many ways you could attempt to resolve your differences. These include:
Contact an attorney (See the NH Bar Association "Need a Lawyer?" Section)
Contact a Superior Court Certified Marital Mediator
A Combination of the above
You can proceed with the case on your own without professional assistance but you take the risk of not protecting your and/or your childrens best interest.
Court staff can assist you with procedures and forms but cannot give you substantive advice about what you should do in your particular situation.
In order to have contested issues decided by a marital master or judge, you will need to contact the court to request a hearing date.