Alimony in NH is defined as financial support ordered by the court and made to or for the benefit of a former spouse during separation or following divorce.

The court is mostly responsible for making orders for alimony payments. This article breaks down the various aspects involved in awarding, modifying, or terminating alimony payments.

How To Calculate Alimony In NH

The first step of calculating alimony in NH is considering whether the requesting spouse qualifies for alimony. The court awards alimony if the requesting spouse is not financially independent, the paying spouse can remain self-supporting while paying spousal support, or the payee spouse is unemployed or is the primary custodian to a child with special needs.

– Amount of Alimony

New Hampshire alimony laws were significantly changed on January 1, 2019. The amount of alimony to be paid was reduced to the lesser of either reasonable needs of the spouse or 30% of the difference between the ex-spouse’s’ gross income.

These alimony laws were recently revised to reduce the percentage to 23% to provide a new system that’s more predictable. For example, if the ex-husband makes $70,000 annually, and the ex-wife makes $65,000, then the difference is $10,000, and the alimony to be paid will be 23% of $10,000.

Before the new alimony laws in New Hampshire went into effect, the amount of alimony to be paid was based on the court’s discretion. Different judges arrived at different agreements for similar court cases. Now, the new alimony law creates a formula that’s used daily by courts across the state.

Once it’s determined by the court that you need support, the amount and duration is agreed upon depending on factors such as both spouses’ age, health, occupation, and socio-economic statuses.

Other factors the court may consider when calculating the amount of alimony include the length of the marriage, child support (if any), and other benefits being paid to the receiving spouse.

Ultimately, the court decides how much alimony should be paid by considering:

  • Marriage duration.
  • Health, age, socio-economic status.
  • The spouses’ occupation and source of income.
  • Awarded property under RSA 458:16-a.
  • Employability and vocational skills.
  • Estate liabilities and each party’s needs.
  • Spouses’ potential acquisition of income and capital assets.
  • The fault of either party as defined in RSA 458:16-a, II(I).

– Duration of Alimony

The duration of alimony payments can either be definite or indefinite. Unless the judge orders otherwise, alimony payments may continue until the payor spouse retires, either spouse dies, or the recipient spouse remarries. Most orders are short-term and give the recipient spouse ample time to get on their feet.

According to New Hampshire divorce laws, temporary alimony ends when a divorce is finalized by a judge. Rehabilitative support lasts until the date set by the court or when a specific event such as cohabitation occurs. Spouses can also agree on the duration of alimony.

How To Pay Spousal Support New Hampshire

A majority of alimony payments are paid monthly. The court order usually includes an income withholding order whereby alimony payments are directly forwarded to the payee from the paying spouse’s account. This can be in the form of  lump-sum payments, monthly support, or installments over a specified period.

How To Avoid Paying Alimony in NH

Exercising due diligence is the best way to ensure that you don’t pay a burdensome alimony amount or permanent alimony. You can also put an end to alimony payments if you feel that there has been a significant change that puts your ex-spouse in a better financial position.

Regarding duration, if the marriage was short-term, consider whether it’s reasonable to have a termination date for alimony written into the agreement. Seek the services of a family law attorney with experience who will help you negotiate for a modification or termination of alimony.

– Modification of Alimony

Either spouse can request for alimony modification unless the couple agrees otherwise or the judge orders so. Even if the court decides to set an end date for alimony payments, either partner can request a renewal in court, as long as the request is made within five years of the termination date. Keep in mind that this rarely occurs.

The spouse requesting a modification needs to prove that since the last order was passed, there have been unforeseeable changes in circumstances. For instance, if you are the spouse paying alimony and unfortunately lose a job, you can request the judge to modify the alimony order to match your new income. Justice may also require a change in duration and amount of alimony.

– Termination of Alimony

Termination of alimony is determined by equitable factors. Examples include furtherance or completion of education and job training. It’s not guaranteed that alimony will be terminated upon remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient spouse. However, after careful consideration, a court may order alimony termination.

Other circumstances where the court may order a termination of alimony include retirement, death of either spouse or when the recipient achieves a certain level of income.

FAQ

– What Is Alimony Mediation?

Alimony mediation is one of the modes used by a divorcing couple to make an alimony agreement. When a marriage ends through a divorce, the spouses can agree on alimony payments either through litigation in a New Hampshire family court or through mutual agreement.

Often, an alimony mediator is brought in to help the couple come to an amicable agreement regarding alimony and thus avoid having to go to court.

– Does Cohabitation Affect Alimony in NH?

Cohabitation can affect alimony payments in New Hampshire. For two people to be established as cohabiting under the law, the judge must ascertain that:

  • Two adults are living together in one primary residence continually.
  • Two adults are cost-sharing and economically interdependent on one another.
  • Two adults have joint ownership of personal or real property.
  • The relationship is intimate.

If a judge finds that two adults in a relationship are cohabiting, he or she can terminate or modify alimony. Alimony reinstatement may be allowed if the original alimony award is terminated due to cohabitation or a second marriage ended in divorce.

The payee may petition the court for reinstatement of the original order so long as there are still payments of alimony left under the original agreement.

– Is Marital Fault Considered in New Hampshire Alimony?

Marital fault is considered when determining alimony payments. This means that “at-fault” divorces caused by crime, abuse, and infidelity can result in the guilty party making alimony payments.

– Is the Standard of Living Considered in New Hampshire Alimony?

Standard of living is taken into account when deciding alimony payments to be made. The court carefully considers the lifestyle each spouse enjoyed in marriage and decides on a favorable alimony payment amount.

– Is Custodial Status Considered When Determining Alimony in NH?

Custodial status is considered by New Hampshire judges when determining alimony payments. This means that the alimony amount is dependent on whether the recipient spouse is the primary custodian and whether he or she is receiving child support. Often, custodial parents receive higher alimony payments.

– What Happens if Alimony Is Not Paid?

If alimony is not paid, it’s regarded as alimony arrears that are collected by either court claims, mediation, or wage garnishment. Failure of the paying spouse to comply with court-ordered New Hampshire spousal maintenance is regarded as contempt of court, and the defaulting spouse will be charged.

– How Are Alimony Payments Taxed in NH?

Starting January 1, 2019, alimony payments are not tax-deductible to the payor spouse or accounted as income by the recipient spouse. Before that, the paying spouse had to include alimony payments as tax-deductible while the payee reported such payments as income and paid taxes.

– What Types of Alimony Are Available in New Hampshire?

Temporary alimony: it is an order for financial support available for spouses who will need assistance to cover living expenses through the divorce process. Reimbursement alimony is compensation awarded to one spouse for his or her contribution to the financial resources of the recipient spouse.

Permanent alimony: it is rarely awarded and reserved for long-term marriages where one spouse is not self-supporting due to unemployment, disability, or advanced age.

Conclusion

Working out an appropriate duration and amount of alimony is one of the many things divorcing spouses have to take care of. Here are the major points regarding alimony in NH:

  • Alimony in NH is either court-ordered or agreed upon by the spouses.
  • Most alimony payments are short-term.
  • Permanent alimony is rarely awarded and reserved for long-term marriages where one spouse is not self-supporting.
  • The amount of alimony to be paid was recently revised from 30% to 23% of the difference between the spouses’ gross income.
  • Failure to comply with court-ordered spousal support is regarded as contempt of court and the defaulting spouse will be charged.

Alimony can become a difficult issue to resolve during a divorce. However, arming yourself with basic information on alimony in NH and seeking the help of a good attorney could be the key to an expedited and less contested process.

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