New Hampshire Guide to Family Law

New Hampshire Guide to Family Law

Welcome to the New Hampshire Guide to Family Law. The purpose of this blog is to provide a timely resource and overview of the sometimes overwhelming issues in family law, including prenuptial agreements, legal separations, divorce, annulments, and child custody issues. If you have questions about this blog or about any New Hampshire family law issue, please contact one of our family law experts: David DePuy, or Peter Anderson,

McLane Middleton Hosts CLANH Annual Meeting

Posted in Collaborative Law

The Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire’s (CLANH) annual meeting was held at McLane Middleton on September 17, 2015.  The firm is a big supporter of CLANH’s work, and are proud to have been able to host the event again this year.

As part of the event, attorney Honey Hastings was recognized with the John Cameron award.  We congratulate Honey and appreciate her continued dedication to the collaborative law movement.

What is the First Appearance Conference and What Can I Expect?

Posted in Children, Divorce Process

Summary: Attendance at a first appearance conference is required by Family Division Rule 2.11 in all cases involving minor children. This post describes the first appearance conference.

The filing of a family law case involving minor children immediately triggers several important events and actions. These include, but are not limited to: production of Rule 1.25-A mandatory disclosures, preparation of a response to the petition filed, attendance at a child impact seminar, attendance at a first appearance conference and consulting with an attorney.

First appearance conferences are often approximately one hour in duration, although some are longer. Attendance at the conference is mandatory, unless excused by the court. Even couples who understand the importance of settlement must attend.

Courts will schedule a first appearance conference soon after the filing of any divorce, legal separation or parenting case in which there are minor children. At the first appearance conference a Family Division judge or marital master will provide information about the court process and the numerous options available to resolve family law disputes outside of the courtroom. The judicial officer presiding over the conference may or may not be the same person who ultimately hears a case. The conference will be attended by many parents at the same time, most of whom filed a family law case in the preceding month.

The conference is not individualized to the participants. The merits of a case or problem, even if urgent, cannot and will not be addressed at the first appearance conference. Instead, numerous parents of minor children who are involved in family law litigation are required to appear in the courtroom for an explanation of the process and settlement options. Since the substantive issues will not be discussed, attorneys seldom attend such conferences unless requested to do so by a client. At the end of the conference, a court clerk will typically schedule mediation or the next court event. With few exceptions, mediation is also required in all cases involving minor children. Therefore, the clerk often schedules parties for a mediation date with a court-appointed mediator at the conclusion of the first appearance conference. For more information about court-appointed mediators or the court-ordered mediation process, see:

The first appearance conference was designed to help parents understand the process and court system. It is not an adversarial event and it is not case-specific. For further information about the first appearance conference, the Family Division posted a video of a typical first appearance, which can be found at:

Divorce Is A Two Step Proceeding: Don’t Get Bogged Down in Temporary Matters

Posted in Divorce Process

Divorce is really a two step process. The second step is the ultimate resolution of all issues on a permanent, basis, either following a trial or by agreement, as to all issues involved, including property division, alimony, child support and parenting issues.

It is the first step of divorce proceedings involving temporary matters where the parties can easily go astray. Continue Reading

Appointment to N.H. Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee

Posted in Uncategorized

McLane’s Family Law Group is pleased to announce that Margaret R. Kerouac, a director in the litigation department whose practice focuses on family law, was appointed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s Professional Conduct Committee for a three year term that runs from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2017. The Professional Conduct Committee is a part of New Hampshire’s Attorney Discipline System. The Committee reviews and considers reports of misconduct and is composed of eight attorneys and four non-attorneys.

NH Family Division Creates a Complex Case Docket

Posted in Uncategorized

By administrative order dated October 29, 2014, the Family Division created a ‘Complex Case Docket.’ The Complex Case Docket was created to efficiently manage and resolve complex cases, thereby streamlining the litigation process in complicated cases for litigants and the court. Hearings in matters assigned to the Complex Case Docket will be heard in Dover, New Hampshire, absent special circumstances.

Click the link below to learn more about the Complex Case Docket, including information about goals, cases appropriate for assignment, process for removal and differences from the regular docket, as set forth in the Family Division’s FAQ publication:

Limitations on Disclosure Possible in Divorce Cases

Posted in Divorce Process

I recently had an article published in the Union Leader that I wanted to share that answers the question:

My wife filed for divorce. The paperwork provided by the court included a checklist of documents to produce. Many of the documents are personal and confidential. Others relate to my business. I don’t think my partners will want this information produced. Do I need to produce these documents?

Click here to read the answer!

The Power of Collaborative Law

Posted in Collaborative Law

The members of McLane’s Family Law Group are leaders in New Hampshire’s collaborative law movement. The collaborative approach allows parties to a divorce or parenting dispute to avoid the lengthy and expensive court process, retain a relationship of mutual respect while moving apart with dignity, and reach a settlement that both parties are comfortable with.

McLane recently hosted the annual meeting of the Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire (CLANH). At that meeting, a new award honoring CLANH co-founder John Cameron was announced. More information is available here:

CLANH Annual Meeting at McLane

Posted in Events

The Collaborative Law Alliance of New Hampshire (CLANH) is holding its annual meeting at McLane Law Firm’s Manchester office on Tuesday, October 7.  We are proud to host this event as McLane is a big supporter of CLANH’s work in helping people resolve disputes respectfully.  For more information about CLANH’s upcoming annual meeting, please visit

Basic Family Law

Posted in Events, Litigation

On September 19, 2014, I presented at a New Hampshire Bar Association continuing legal education program called “Basic Family Law.”  During this full day session, presenters reviewed divorce and parenting cases from start to finish, while also discussing ethics and management of cases in litigation.

Health Insurance for Minor Children of Divorced Parents

Posted in Divorce Process

The New Hampshire family court’s forms for final decree on petition for divorce, legal separation, or dissolution of civil union (“final decree”) and the uniform support-standing order (USO) have sections regarding health insurance that must be completed by the parties or filled in by the court. The matter of health insurance for minor children must be addressed in the court’s orders regardless of whether coverage is in place or available.  Such orders will also be made on an interim basis at the temporary hearing.  In making these decisions, the court will review the availability and cost of insurance, the benefits of each plan, and the financial circumstances of the parties. Continue Reading