All parents are legally required to provide basic care and financial support to their children until they reach the age of majority or obtain a legal emancipation. Divorced and separated parents will each owe an independent duty, as required by their states’ family laws. In New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Statutes Chapter 458 requires parents to share the expenses of raising their children after divorce, and each parent’s individual financial responsibility is based on the New Hampshire child support guidelines.
The New Hampshire child support guidelines are based on the noncustodial parent’s income, instead of using the income of both parents. Under the state’s percentage of income calculation, New Hampshire courts will award child support to custodial parents or parents who spend the majority of time caring for their children or residential parents. A noncustodial parent’s child support obligation is based on the number of children she is required to support.
Terminating Child Support
In New Hampshire, child support obligations continue until children graduate high school or reach age 18 (whichever occurs last). However, parents can mutually agree upon a child support agreement extending support beyond age 18. In this case, courts will typically uphold written agreements between parents voluntarily extending support beyond age 18. A parent’s child support obligation can end earlier than 18 if the minor child becomes legally emancipated by court order or marriage.
The state’s child support guideline awards are rebuttable through demonstrated need. Courts may deviate from the presumptive calculations based on extenuating circumstances. Reasons for deviation include extraordinary educational expenses, medical needs or special expenses, parental lack of income, tax consequences and parenting schedules. Courts also can award parents to continue supporting their children beyond age 18 if their children are disabled and unable to care for themselves. Courts also may extend support and require parents to pay for their children’s post-secondary education in special circumstances.
Under New Hampshire law, the custodial parent, or the parent responsible for providing the child’s primary home, can request a modification of an existing support order once every three years if there is a significant change in financial circumstances. Parents also can request child support beyond age 18 to help them pay for their children’s post-secondary education. Although New Hampshire courts have the discretion to award support beyond age 18, it is generally based on the financial need of both parents and their children.
Since New Hampshire laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in New Hampshire.