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How to File a Parenting Petition


Pursuant to RSA 458-A:3, one of the following must apply to file a parenting action or modification in New Hampshire: 

I. A court of this state which is competent to decide child custody matters has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination by initial or modification decree only when: 

(a) This state (1) is the home state of the child at the time of commencement of the custody proceeding; or (2) has been the child's home state within 6 months before commencement of such proceeding and the child is absent from this state because of his removal or retention by a person claiming his custody or for other reasons, and a parent or person acting as parent continues to live in this state; or 

(b) It is in the best interest of the child that a court of this state assume jurisdiction because (1) the child and his parents, or the child and at least one contestant, have a significant connection with this state, and (2) there is within the jurisdiction of the court substantial evidence concerning the child's present or future care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or 

(c) The child is physically present in this state and (1) the child has been abandoned or (2) it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child; or 

(d) (1) It appears that no other state would have jurisdiction under prerequisites substantially in accordance with subparagraph (a), (b), or (c), or another state has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this state is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child, and (2) it is in the best interest of the child that this court assume jurisdiction. 

II. Except under subparagraphs I(c) and (d), physical presence in this state of the child, or of the child and one of the contestants, is not alone sufficient to confer jurisdiction on a court of this state to make a child custody determination. 

III. Physical presence of the child, while desirable, is not a prerequisite for jurisdiction to determine his custody. 

There is a filing fee for a parenting petition. 

To start your parenting action: 

If both parents agree to file the parenting action, even if you don't agree on a parenting plan or child support, you may wish to file a Joint Parenting Petition, together with a Personal Data Sheet. Using a Joint Petition to begin the parenting action avoids the cost of formal service of legal papers. 

Otherwise, if you want to file as an individual, you will file a Parenting Petition, together with a Personal Data Sheet. The other parent will need to be notified about this parenting action. That notification will happen either by the other parent picking up the paperwork at the court, or by you sending the papers by certified mail or through the sheriff. 

Once the petition has been filed, gather the information and documents required under Rule 1.25-A

After a joint petition is filed, or after service of an individual petition, you will be scheduled for a First Appearance session. At this session, a judge or master will explain the court process and highlight important things to think about involving your children. You will hear about the Child Impact Seminar, parenting plans, mediation, and guardians ad litem, and child support. A date will be selected for the next step in your parenting action, so please bring your calendar for scheduling purposes. See First Appearance/Mediation for more information. 

To complete your parenting action, you will need to file: 

If you need an order of the court before completing your parenting action, you may request a temporary hearing on the parenting petition. You will need to file a Decree on Parenting Petition prior to the temporary hearing. Generally, a Temporary Hearing will not be scheduled until after First Appearance and mediation.