How do I get custody of my son? How do I get custody of my daughter? When some New Hampshire moms and dads get divorced, the single biggest issue is the desire to get “sole custody” of their children.
In New Hampshire, what we informally still refer to as “getting custody” is now legally called “the assignment of parental rights and responsibilities.” Getting “sole custody” is actually quite uncommon, as New Hampshire courts make their best effort to ensure the child maintains a relationship with both of his or her parents. However, in some extreme circumstances (as outlined below), New Hampshire courts may decide it is in the best interest of the child to grant “sole custody” to one parent.
If you are a New Hampshire parent who seeks “sole custody” of your kids, it’s essential that you understand the two elements of “parental rights and responsibilities” and the critical factors and circumstances that may cause a court to award you “sole custody” of your children.
Element #1: “Decision-making responsibility”
a. “Decision-making responsibility” determines which parent makes major decisions for the children regarding education, health, religious training, etc.
b. This is typically awarded to the parents jointly – meaning both parents share in making decisions for the children.
c. However, even though New Hampshire courts almost always ensure that both parents get the chance to play a role in their child’s future, there are some extenuating circumstances when a New Hampshire judge might award “sole decision-making responsibility” to one parent.
d. In those rare New Hampshire cases in which a parent is awarded sole decision-making responsibility, only one parent is legally empowered to make major decisions for the children.
e. Below are four factors that may lead a New Hampshire court to award sole decision-making responsibility to one parent:
Getting Sole Decision-making in New Hampshire – Factor 1: There is a domestic violence order in effect.
Getting Sole Decision-making in New Hampshire – Factor 2: There is a history of abuse or violence in the parents’ relationship or in a parent’s relationship with the children.
Getting Sole Decision-making in New Hampshire – Factor 3: The parents are unable to communicate effectively so as to jointly make major decisions.
Getting Sole Decision-making in New Hampshire – Factor 4: One parent does not have the mental capacity to make major decisions in the children’s best interest.
Element #2: “Residential responsibility”
a. “Residential responsibility” determines where the children live.
b. Residential responsibility can take many different forms (i.e. “She stays with her mom during the week but sees her dad on weekends.” // “He stays with me during the school year but spends summers with his dad.”), but typically, New Hampshire courts try to ensure there is regular and frequent contact between the children and each parent.
c. It is rare for “sole residential responsibility” to be awarded to a single parent in New Hampshire. In these situations, the children live almost entirely with one parent and have limited visiting time or supervised visitation with the other.
d. Below are four factors that may lead a New Hampshire court to award sole residential responsibility to one parent:
Getting Sole Residential Responsibility in New Hampshire – Factor 1: There is a history of a parent having neglected or abused the children.
Getting Sole Residential Responsibility in New Hampshire – Factor 2:
A parent does not have appropriate living arrangements for the children.
Getting Sole Residential Responsibility in New Hampshire – Factor 3: There is concern for the children’s health, safety, and well-being while in the care of a parent.
Getting Sole Residential Responsibility in New Hampshire – Factor 4:
A parent has had little contact with the children for an extended period of time.