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What are the Grounds for Divorce in New Hampshire?

What are the Grounds for Divorce in New Hampshire?

Grounds for Divorce

All of the Different Grounds for Divorce

By Attorney Ian Reardon – When beginning the divorce process, one of your initial decisions is selecting the grounds for divorce. The various grounds are outlined in the New Hampshire statute, RSA 458:7. We’ll delve into these grounds in greater detail further down the page. It’s important to note that New Hampshire allows spouses to pursue a no-fault divorce by filing under “irreconcilable differences.” However, if you opt for fault-based grounds, you will be required to prove this fault before a judge.  In many cases, filing fault grounds may not be worthwhile. It can be challenging to prove, and its impact on the final distribution of property or alimony is often limited.

New Hampshire Fault Based Divorce Grounds

Impotency of Either Party – This fault ground is plead when one spouse is unable to engage in sexual relations due to a physical or physiological condition. On a basic level, it implies that one party is incapable of fulfilling a fundamental aspect of the marital relationship, which is the ability to have sexual intercourse.

Adultery of Either Party – Adultery is when a married person engages in sexual relations with someone other than their spouse. When claiming adultery, you must name the person your spouse had an affair with as the “Co-Respondent.” Not only must you prove that the adultery occurred, but you must also establish that it was the cause of the marriage’s breakdown.

Extreme Cruelty – This encompasses a wide range of harmful behaviors, including physical violence, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, threats, harassment, or any other conduct that inflicts significant harm on the other spouse.  Again, the cruelty must be the reason for the breakdown of the marriage.

Conviction of a Crime – To plead this fault ground, the crime committed must carry a prison sentence of more than one year, and the spouse must have actually served some time in prison.

Seriously Injure Health – This fault ground extends beyond extreme cruelty and can be invoked when one spouse has inflicted a severe injury on the other resulting in significant medical harm.

Disappearance – This occurs when one spouse has been absent for a continuous period of two (2) years without any contact or communication during that time.

Alcohol or Drug Abuse – This fault ground can be plead when one spouse has a severe drug or alcohol addiction that has persisted for a minimum of two (2) years. Like all fault grounds, the drug or alcohol abuse must be established as the primary reason for the breakdown of the marriage.

Religious Sect – This is a seldom-invoked fault ground. It applies when either spouse becomes a member of a religious or any group that prohibits sexual relations between spouses. Furthermore, due to their involvement in this group, the spouses have lived separately for a minimum of six (6) months.

Abandonment – Similar to disappearance, this fault ground arises when one spouse moves out of the home without consent or valid reason and refuses to return for a period exceeding two (2) years.

Should you divorce on fault grounds?

Proving Fault Grounds can be Difficult

Courts have been shifting away from fault-based divorce over the past 30-40 years. It has been observed that allowing fault-based divorce tends to make cases more contentious, increase expenses, and create added difficulties for children involved. Even when a spouse successfully proves fault, the resulting changes in property settlements or alimony are typically relatively minor. Often, it is not cost-effective to pursue fault grounds.

However, this doesn’t mean that pleading a case on fault grounds is never appropriate, especially when the fault ground directly leads to lost income or property. Pursuing and proving a fault ground can be a complex process. Therefore, we strongly recommend that anyone attempting to obtain a divorce on fault grounds retain a divorce lawyer.