INFORMATION FOR MINORS
Forms & Instructions
If you are under 18 years old, and have never been married, New Hampshire law requires that as of January 1, 2012, your doctor must notify at least one of your parents or your guardian before an abortion can be performed. The law also provides a process in which you can ask a judge to decide whether your parent or guardian must be notified before an abortion is performed.
The following information explains the process you must follow if you decide you want to ask a judge to allow you to get an abortion without notifying your parents or guardian. The first step is to file a form called "Petition for Waiver of Parental Notice for Abortion Requested by a Minor." It is very important that you read the petition and read these instructions so that you understand the entire process.
1. Things You Should Know
- You have the right to have a lawyer help you in court, free of charge. You just have to check the box on the petition that says that you want the court to appoint a lawyer for you.
- Everything about your case will be kept CONFIDENTIAL. That means only the court staff, judge, and your lawyer will see what you have filed or hear what you say at a hearing and they cannot show or tell anyone this information.
- You may file your petition using your initials or a name that is not your real name but you will also have to provide your real name. Your real name will be kept confidential.
- If you do not come to the courthouse in person to file your petition (if you file it by mail or email or leave it in a courthouse drop box) you will have to give the court a phone number where people can leave a message for you (it can be your lawyer's phone number). If you don't have a phone number you are comfortable giving the court, you will have to come to the courthouse to file the petition.
- The court will set up a time for you to talk to the judge very quickly. The meeting with the judge is called a hearing. Unless you ask for more time, the judge must hold a hearing and make a decision about your case -called a "ruling"-- 2 court business days after you file your petition.
How do I file a petition with the court?
- You can get a form called "Petition for Waiver of Parental Notice for Abortion Requested by a Minor" from the clerk's office at any superior court. Click here for court locations. You can also obtain a form on the Judicial Branch website. Click here.
- You or your lawyer can file the petition at any New Hampshire superior court. Click here for a list of Superior Court locations.
There are four ways to file the Petition:
- You may file in person. You (or your lawyer) can come to the courthouse when it is open. Court hours can be found on the website. If you come in person, staff can give you the form and answer your questions. They can tell you when your hearing date is before you leave the courthouse.
- You may file your petition by e-mail at email@example.com at any time. If you file your petition by e-mail, you must call the court's answering service to tell them you've filed a petition, the court you filed it in, and the phone number where the court can reach you or your lawyer. You do not need to tell them your name. The number for the answering service is 603-225-4451.
- You may complete the petition form and send it to the court by mail.
- You may place the completed petition form in a superior court's drop box. Not all superior courts have these boxes. Those that do have boxes inside the building, so the building itself must be open in order for you to use the drop box.
NOTE: IF YOU DO NOT COME TO THE COURT TO FILE THE PETITION, YOU MUST PROVIDE A TELEPHONE NUMBER FOR YOU OR YOUR LAWYER ON THE PETITION FORM.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU FILE THE PETITION
If you file by mail, email or drop box, court staff will call you back within a day to give you information about when and where your hearing will be held. If you come to court in person to file, court staff can give you hearing information before you leave.
If you ask for a lawyer, court staff will tell you who your lawyer is and how to reach him/her when they contact you with hearing information.
A "hearing" is when you can talk to a judge in person. You must participate in the hearing on your petition. People who may be present during your hearing will be the judge, court staff, your lawyer, and a court security officer You may bring papers and other things you think will help the judge understand your situation. You can bring people to talk to the judge about your situation or to be support for you such as your doctor, nurse, family planning counselor, friend, relative, or anyone else. The judge will decide whether any one you bring can come into the courtroom during the hearing.
After reading what you have written on the form, the judge will ask you questions. The judge will be trying to determine (a) if you are mature enough to give your consent to an abortion without telling either of your parents or your guardian or (b) if it is in your best interests to have an abortion performed without telling either of your parents or a guardian.
After the Hearing:
The judge will write an order.
If the judge decides you do not need to notify your parent or guardian, court staff will give you a copy of the order and a "Certificate to Allow Medical Provider to Perform an Abortion Without Notifying a Minor's Parents or Guardian." You may give your medical provider the judge's ruling or the certificate.
If the judge decides you cannot have an abortion without telling your parent or guardian, you have the right to appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Your lawyer will also help you with this process. If you do not have a lawyer, and want one, the court will appoint a lawyer for you. You must fill out a form that you can locate on the website or at any superior court.
FILING AN APPEAL WITH THE SUPREME COURT
A minor has 30 days to appeal a ruling of a Superior Court judge denying a waiver of parental notification to have an abortion.
By law, the pregnant minor has the right to have a lawyer help her file an appeal, free of charge . If the minor was represented by a lawyer in the Superior Court that lawyer is required to help the minor with her appeal. If the minor did not have a lawyer in Superior Court, before she files an appeal she can ask the Superior Court to appoint a lawyer to help her, free of charge. Click here for the form asking the Superior Court to appoint a lawyer for you.
Unless the minor or her lawyer asks for more time, the Supreme Court must rule on the appeal within 48 hours after the court receives it.