Child Custody Attorneys

Child Custody Attorneys

Parental Custody and Parents' Rights

In New Hampshire, the custody of children and the specifics of the arrangement are outlined in a document referred to as a Parenting Plan. Parents are urged to collaborate and create an agreement that prioritizes their children’s best interests. Should the parents fail to agree, the court will establish its own Parenting Plan.  Our child custody attorneys, Attorney Schoff & Attorney Reardon, have over 30 years of combined experience helping parents maximize the time they have with their children.

Parenting Plans Define Custody

The Parenting Plan in New Hampshire holds a significant and multifaceted role. This comprehensive document attempts to outline and define the dynamic between each parent and their children. By doing so, it aims to foster a parenting relationship that avoids conflicts and disputes. When both parents possess a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities, as well as the rights belonging to the other parent, it can eliminate future disagreements. The Parenting Plan serves as a navigational guide, ensuring that co-parenting is characterized by cooperation for the well-being of the children.

When discussing child custody, the focus typically lies on determining where the children will primarily reside. In New Hampshire, this concept is termed “residential responsibility.” Courts generally favor an arrangement where both parents share nearly equal residential responsibility. Even if circumstances indicate that one parent might offer a more suitable environment, courts are unlikely to grant sole custody to either parent.

Once a Parenting Plan is defined and accepted by the court, it can be difficult to modify.  Retaining child custody attorneys who have worked through hundreds of Parenting Plans will ensure that you and your children move forward while obtaining the best possible results.

New Hampshire Legal Aid provides a good resource on parenting plans and might be a good place to start a discussion with your spouse.

Decision-Making Responsibility

Decision-Making Responsibility is a section of the Parenting Plan that defines which parent (or both parents) can make major life decisions for the children. These are things like, where the children go to school, routine health and dental care, extracurricular activities, and participation in religion. Whenever possible, Courts’ prefer that both parents have involvement with making decisions for their children.

Residential Responsibility

New Hampshire calls “Residential Responsibility” what most people think of as custody. Residential Responsibility determines where the children physically reside after a divorce or separation. When parents reach an agreement they can craft a schedule that work best for them and revolves around their employment. Without an agreement, a court will order what it thinks is appropriate.

Transportation and Exchange

Transportation and exchange of the children is often a difficult area that is often overlooked. The amount of time needed to pickup or drop off is routinely underestimated. Resentment can grow quickly when one parent feels that he or she is doing more than the other. This is just one of many areas where an experienced attorney can prevent future conflict that results in hostility, or even worse, returning to court.

Modifying an Existing Parenting Plan

Making modifications to child custody is extremely common.  The Parenting Plan even has an entire section, “Procedure for Review and Adjustment,” that outlines how often parents should meet to revise their plan.  Many things necessitate the modification of a Parenting Plan.  Children get older, parents’ employment changes, and general life events make following the existing plan impossible.  However, nothing in the Parenting Plan requires either parent to agree to a change.  Without an agreement, the current plan remains in place and the only remaining option is to ask the court for assistance.

When asking the court to modify custody you’re asking for a “Modification of Parental Rights and Responsibilities.”   It is not an easy process to prove that a Parenting Plan should be modified.  New Hampshire law identifies that children do best when they have stability.  Therefore, a parent seeking change to the plan must have a very good reason in the eyes of the court.  Because making a change is so difficult, it is important that you are represented by experienced child custody attorneys.  First, an attorney can advise you on whether or not it’s worth going to court at all. Second, the law governing custody is quite complex and having an attorney greatly increases your chances of obtaining the modification.