New Hampshire Family Court Division was created specifically to handle all legal matters regarding families, domestic relations, and children. The state is expanding this court every year but currently has 28 locations in ten counties: Belknap, Carroll, Coos, Cheshire, Grafton, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan.
The types of cases resolved by Family Court are child abuse and neglect, children in need of services, juvenile delinquency, adoptions, child support, divorce, parental rights, domestic violence petitions, guardianship of minors, visitation and other child safety-related issues. As an additional option, New Hampshire has Drug and Mental Health Courts, which relate to many Family Court issues. These specialty courts help to provide guidance, support, rehabilitation, and treatment instead of just punishment and justice.
Due to the sensitive and emotional nature of Family Court issues, the New Hampshire Judicial Branch website offers patrons a lot of support and guidance through the system. Along with court locations, addresses, directions, and contact information, they also provide information on how and where to file common types of cases. They offer divorce and mediation options to couples in crisis. They have links to more details about adoptions, guardianship, abuse, and neglect of children, child support, name changes, dealing with juvenile delinquency, and termination of parental rights. New Hampshire offers downloadable forms or e-filing options for cases in Family Court.
In many cases, the court will try to promote mediation or arbitration rather than court proceedings, which are lengthy, expensive, and more emotionally draining. Often Family Court matters can be resolved more civility through mediation.
For the last year tallied, Family Courts recorded 19,843 filings. Of that total, 9,166 were for domestic matters, 4,121 were for domestic violence, 3,282 were for juvenile issues, 814 were for termination of parental rights, 704 were adoptions, and 228 were for name changes and marriages.