New Hampshire Custody and Visitation Schedules

How do I make my New Hampshire custody and visitation schedule?

You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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In New Hampshire, how can I use the law to help me create my schedule?

When you are involved in a child custody case in the State of New Hampshire, it is important to have an understanding the laws pertaining to child custody and visitation.

Family law in New Hampshire is very specific. New Hampshire Case Law is an excellent resource for court precedence, but some of the basic rules and statutes can be found in the New Hampshire Court Rules and the New Hampshire Revised Statutes.

These laws and rules should be adhered to when creating a child visitation schedule so that you may create a schedule that the court will accept, approve of, and be less likely to modify.

In New Hampshire, must I submit a visitation schedule to the court?

In every child custody case in the State of New Hampshire, the parents are required to submit a parenting plan to the court. The parents are requested to work together on the parenting plan, and then submit a plan containing the issues the can agree upon to the court.

A major part of the parenting plan is the child visitation schedule, also referred to as a "parenting time" schedule.

In New Hampshire, what should I include in my visitation schedule?

New Hampshire Court Rules, Rules of the Family Division of the State of NH, Section 2-Domestic Relations, Rule 2.18, stipulates that the child visitation schedule should contain the following elements:

  • A regular residential schedule that established a routine and specifies when your child will have time with each parent. You are free to create any sort of schedule that works for your child and the situation, but some sample schedules are:
    • One parent may have the child the majority of the time and the other parent shall have the child every other weekend and one weeknight each week.
    • One parent may have the child the majority of the time, but the other parent has the child for a few hours after school a few nights a week, and every other weekend.
    • Parents take turns having the child every other week.
    • Parent A may have the child four days, Parent B, three days, then three days back with Parent A, and then four days with Parent B. This is known as a 4/3/3/4 schedule, but it may also be done as a 5/2/2/5 schedule, a 5/2/4/3 schedule, etc.
  • A schedule for holidays and birthdays that includes special occasions. Sometimes the holiday schedule conflicts with the regular schedule. In that case, the holiday schedule outranks the regular residential schedule. Birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and any special days you agree upon may be included. Many parents opt to simply take turns having the child on the various holidays, alternating them every year.
  • Provisions for extended weekends when a holiday or the child's school schedule creates a three day weekend and how the child's time will be spent.
  • A vacation schedule that allows the child to have extended time with each parent during school breaks and the parents' personal vacation times. Provisions can be included to define the conditions of vacation time, such as the amount of advanced notice required, in lieu of an actual set schedule, as personal vacation time is not always predictable.
  • If supervised visitation is required, a schedule for supervised visitation time needs to be included, as well as the place of supervision and the name or names of the supervising adults.

What do New Hampshire courts consider when ruling on custody cases?

The court considers the best interests of the child to be paramount when deciding on child custody issues, and your child visitation schedule should be written in accordance to the best interests of your child, as well.

If the court determines any portion of a parenting plan or child visitation schedule is not in the child's best interests, the court may reject any portion of the proposed agreements.

How does the court determine what the child's best interests are?

In New Hampshire, the court considers a variety of factors when determining the best interests of the child, (RSA 461-A:6), including, but not limited to:

  • The wishes of the child
  • The proposed parenting arrangements submitted by the parents
  • The relationships the child has with each parent, any siblings, and any other important people in the child's life
  • What effect changing the dynamic of these relationships by relocating the child would have on the child
  • The mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being of the parents and child
  • Any special needs the child may have
  • The fitness and capacity of each parent to raise the child in a manner that provides the child with basic needs, such as adequate clothing and shelter
  • The capability of each parent to raise the child with morals, values, and proper guidance
  • The ability and likeness of each parent to communication and cooperate with the other parent on matters regarding the child
  • The willingness and desire of each parent to help foster a nurturing, loving, significant relationship between the child and other parent
  • Whether or not any circumstances that may prove to be detrimental to the child have occurred, or may continue to occur, such as any kind of abuse or violence

The court shall consider any other additional factors deemed relevant to the child's best interests.

Do I have to work with the other parent to create the custody schedule?

When parents separate and families restructure, it is difficult on everyone, but it is often most difficult on the child or children of the relationship. This is why you should make every effort to work with the other parent to create a schedule that benefits your child.

Really pondering the needs of your child allows you to make a schedule where your child is able to adjust and thrive in the new family situation.

Focusing on the best interest of the child also makes it easier to work with the other parent, because even if you agree on nothing else, you can agree that you both want what is best for your child.

If you do this, then the court will see the benefit your schedule has to the child and will adopt it.

If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, the court will make those decisions for you.

The top ten cities in New Hampshire (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Rochester, Dover, Derry, Keene, Portsmouth, Laconia, Claremont.

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