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Divorce/Parenting ADR

Both Mediation and Neutral Case Evaluation are available for divorce/parenting cases. 

When appropriate, mediation can ease the difficulty of the court process by giving you and your co-parent/former partner a chance to resolve matters through a focused discussion led by a mediator. Mediation gives you the opportunity to discuss the issues that are important to you.

Appropriateness of Mediation

Mediation may not be appropriate if there is: 

  • An allegation of abuse or neglect of the minor child;
  • A finding of alcoholism or drug abuse;
  • Serious psychological or emotional abuse; or 
  • A finding of domestic violence.

Please see RSA 461-A:7 for more information.

Requesting Mediation

You can request mediation at the first event the court schedules after a divorce or parenting case is filed. If there are children involved, the case will be scheduled for First Appearance. If there are no children involved, the case is scheduled for a court hearing. 

At First Appearance or your first court hearing, you can request mediation by telling the judge or court staff that you are interested in mediation. You can also request mediation by filing a motion with the court. 

If your request is approved, you will receive a Notice on Appointment of Mediator. The notice will state the date, time, and means of mediation as well as what you must bring to mediation. 

Cost of Mediation

Court-connected mediation costs $300 per case for up to four hours of mediation and one hour of administrative work related to mediation. The court splits the fee between the parties and often splits it so that each party pays $150 for mediation. 

The fee for additional hours of mediation after the first four hours is determined by your income. Please refer to Supreme Court Rule 48-B for more information on the mediation fee.

If you cannot afford the cost of mediation, please fill out the Mediation Payment Worksheet and file it with the court. The court will help you determine whether you qualify for financial assistance.

Learn more about financial assistance  

Preparing for Mediation

Bring the following with you to mediation:

  • Completed and up-to-date financial affidavit
  • A calendar, your work schedule, an any other information you need to make plans for the upcoming year
  • A proposed parenting plan (if applicable)
  • Your mediation fee, unless you’ve been informed that you qualify for financial assistance.

The Mediation Process

Mediation will occur at the date and time listed on your Notice of Appointment for Mediation. The first mediation session will be two hours long. You, the other party, and the mediator can schedule a follow up mediation session if you feel that it would be helpful.

The mediation starts with the mediator explaining the process and the ground rules for participation. You can find the ground rules in the Mediation Participation Agreement. The mediator will then lead you and the other party through a discussion around topics such as: property division, time with children, decision-making, and transportation. The mediator may choose to speak with you (and your attorney) alone, or with the other party (and their attorney) alone. If you and the other party come to an agreement on a topic, the mediator will keep track of the agreement that was reached. You may come to an agreement on all issues, on some of the issues, or not agree. 

Outcomes

At the conclusion of your mediation session, the following may occur: 

  1. Mediation continues: You, the other party, and the mediator all agree that continuing mediation would be helpful. You, the other party, and the mediator schedule a follow-up session. 
  2. Full Agreement: You and the other party have come to an agreement on all the issues. The mediator will draft the written agreement and send it to you and the other party to review. If the agreement is satisfactory, you must sign the agreement and file it with the court. The mediator may, if they choose to, help you file the agreement, but it is your responsibility to send a signed copy of the agreement to the court. After the agreement is signed, it will be presented to a judge for review. If the judge approves it, the agreement will become a court order.
  3. Partial Agreement: You and the other party have come to an agreement on some of the issues but continuing mediation would not be helpful. The mediator will draft a written agreement for those issues you came to an agreement on, and send it to you and the other party to review. If the agreement is satisfactory, you must sign the agreement and file it with the court. The mediator may, if they choose to, help you file the agreement, but it is your responsibility to send a signed copy of the agreement to the court. The court will then schedule the next event and you will receive a notice. 
  4. No agreement: The mediator will notify the court that you and the other party did not reach an agreement and the court will schedule the next event. You will receive a notice. 

The Mediators

The Court contracts with New Hampshire Certified Family Mediators. They are highly qualified professionals—attorneys, mental health clinicians, etc.—with extensive training in conflict resolution, communication, family law, and ethics. They follow Standards of Practice and confidentiality requirements. Though some are attorneys, the mediator will not offer legal advice. The mediator is neutral about the case’s outcome and will not force parties to reach agreement. The mediator ensures that each party has an opportunity to be heard and understood. You can find a list of court-contracted divorce/family mediators here.  

If your case has been referred to the Complex Family Docket and the judge has ordered you to attend mediation, you can find a list of our complex family docket mediators here

Laws, Rules, and Procedures

Forms

Questions?

General divorce/parenting court questions: 1-855-212-1234
Mediation questions: mediation@courts.state.nh.us 

Let us know how mediation worked for you: www.surveymonkey.com/r/NHMediation

Neutral Case Evaluation (NCE) is an informal, confidential process managed by a judicial officer who is not the judge hearing the case. For more detailed information, please refer to the NCE Protocols.

Eligible Cases

NCE is available to any divorce/parenting cases filed in New Hampshire which has already completed mediation, or for which mediation was deemed not appropriate. You and your attorney are expected to have attempted settlement prior to requesting NCE.

Requesting NCE

You may request NCE at any time after mediation has been completed, or if mediation is not appropriate, at any time after filing. You can request NCE by telling the judge at a court hearing, or by filing a motion. The judge hearing your case will determine whether NCE is available and whether your case should be assigned to NCE. If assigned to NCE, you and the other party must both agree to participate in NCE. You will then schedule a date for NCE with court staff. 

Preparing for NCE

Forms

Questions?

General divorce/parenting court questions: 1-855-212-1234
Mediation questions: mediation@courts.state.nh.us