The following is a summary of New Hampshire child custody laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full New Hampshire Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Guidelines for Determining Child Custody.

When determining a child custody award, New Hampshire laws consider the best interests of the child. There shall be a presumption, affecting the burden of proof, that joint legal custody is in the best interest of minor children if any of the following apply:

  1. Where the parents have agreed to an award of joint legal custody, or
  2. Upon the application of either parent for joint legal custody, in which case it may be awarded in the discretion of the court. To assist the court in making a determination whether an award of joint legal custody is appropriate, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the children.
  3. Where the court finds that abuse has occurred, the court shall consider such abuse as harmful to children in determining whether joint legal custody is appropriate. In such cases, the court shall make custody and visitation orders that best protect the children, or the abused spouse, or both.

Joint legal custody” shall include all parental rights with the exception of physical custody which shall be awarded as the court deems most conducive to the benefit of the children.

Allegations or evidence of specific acts of misconduct where child custody is an issue are only admissible when the misconduct is relevant to establish that parental custody would be detrimental to the child.

-From Sections 458:17 and 458:7-a of the New Hampshire Statutes.


This information has been summarized from the New Hampshire statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other New Hampshire divorce statutes online here: New Hampshire Divorce Laws.




IMPORTANT: Help Yourself Divorce is a paralegal service, not a law firm. Please don’t rely on this information for legal advice. Seek help from an attorney if you need legal advice.


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