TITLE LI
COURTS

Chapter 490-D
JUDICIAL BRANCH FAMILY DIVISION

Section 490-D:1

    490-D:1 Judicial Branch Family Division Established. – The general court hereby organizes, constitutes, and establishes the judicial branch family division. The goals of the family division are the respectful treatment of all citizens by justices, marital masters, and other family division staff, the prompt and fair resolution of family issues by justices and marital masters specially selected and trained to deal effectively with such issues, the use of alternative dispute resolution to reduce the adversarial nature of proceedings involving families, and the assignment of all family matters of a single family to one family division justice or marital master located in a family division court that is geographically accessible to the family.

Source. 2005, 177:14, eff. July 1, 2005.

Section 490-D:2

    490-D:2 Jurisdiction. –
Notwithstanding any law to the contrary and except for the limited need to allow an existing case to proceed with the same judge who had presided over it before the implementation of the judicial branch family division, following implementation of the division at a division site in accordance with RSA 490-D:5, jurisdiction over the following matters shall be exclusively exercised through the judicial branch family division as procedurally jurisdiction was previously exercised in the superior, district, and probate courts:
I. Petitions for divorce, nullity of marriage, alimony, custody of children, support, and to establish paternity.
II. Actions for support or custody for children of unwed parties.
III. Actions under RSA 169-B, relating to delinquent children except for concurrent jurisdiction with the district court to enter temporary detention orders under RSA 169-B:11, III and 169-B:12, IV(b).
IV. Actions under RSA 169-C, relating to abused and neglected children except for concurrent jurisdiction with the district court to enter orders under RSA 169-C:6, VI and RSA 169-C:6-a.
V. Actions under RSA 169-D, relating to children in need of services except for concurrent jurisdiction with the district court to enter orders under RSA 169-D:8, I, RSA 169-D:9-a, and RSA 169-D:10.
VI. Actions under RSA 173-B, relating to protection of persons from domestic violence except for concurrent jurisdiction with the district division to enter temporary protective orders under RSA 173-B:4.
VII. The adoption of children in abuse and neglect cases pursuant to RSA 169-C, termination of parental rights cases pursuant to RSA 170-C, and guardianships of the person of minors pursuant to paragraph VIII. Jurisdiction over private, agency, and international adoptions shall remain with the probate court.
VIII. The guardianship of the person of minors. In cases involving the guardianship of both the person of a minor and the estate of the same minor, jurisdiction shall remain with the probate court.
IX. The termination of parental rights.
X. The change of names of persons who apply therefor in matters relating to jurisdiction in paragraphs I-IX.

Source. 2005, 177:14, eff. July 1, 2005. 2013, 62:9, eff. Jan. 1, 2014.

Section 490-D:3

    490-D:3 Equity Jurisdiction. – Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the judicial branch family division shall have the powers of a court of equity in cases where subject matter jurisdiction lies with the judicial branch family division. Suits in equity where subject matter jurisdiction lies with the judicial branch family division including, but not limited to, petitions for divorce, nullity of marriage, alimony, custody of children, support, and other similar proceedings may be heard upon oral testimony or depositions, or both, or when both parties consent, or service having been made and a notice of the time and place of the hearing having been given, when both parties appear. Such suits may be heard by any justice of the judicial branch family division at any time, but nothing contained in this section shall be construed as limiting the power of the judicial branch family division to have issues of fact framed and tried by a jury, according to the rules in equity, or the course of such proceedings at common law.

Source. 2005, 177:14, eff. July 1, 2005.

Section 490-D:4

    490-D:4 Sites. –
The judicial branch family division shall operate at the following sites and such other sites as the supreme court, from time to time, determines, covering the following districts as delineated in RSA 502-A:1, except as otherwise indicated:

Grafton County


I. The courthouses in Grafton county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the court facility in North Haverhill, the Plymouth District Court, the Littleton District Court, and the Lebanon District Court.
II. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Haverhill district shall be heard in the court facility in North Haverhill.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Plymouth-Lincoln district shall be heard in the Plymouth District Court.
(c) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Littleton district shall be heard in the Littleton District Court.
(d) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Lebanon-Hanover district shall be heard in the Lebanon District Court.
III. The courthouses in Rockingham county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the court facility in Brentwood, the Portsmouth District Court, the Salem District Court, the Candia District Court, the Derry District Court, and the Hampton District Court.
IV. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Portsmouth district shall be heard in the Portsmouth District Court.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Salem district shall be heard in the Salem District Court.
(c) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Derry district shall be heard in the Derry District Court.
(d) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Brentwood district shall be heard in the court facility in Brentwood.
(e) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Candia district shall be heard in the Candia District Court.
(f) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Hampton district shall be heard in the Hampton District Court.

Coos County


V. The courthouses in Coos county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the Colebrook District Court, the Berlin District Court, and the court facility in Lancaster.
VI. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Colebrook district shall be heard in the Colebrook District Court.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Berlin-Gorham district shall be heard in the Berlin District Court.
(c) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Lancaster district shall be heard in the court facility in Lancaster.

Carroll County


VII. The courthouses in Carroll county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the court facility in Ossipee and the District Court for northern Carroll County.
VIII. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the district for southern Carroll county shall be heard in the court facility in Ossipee.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the district for northern Carroll county shall be heard in the District Court for northern Carroll County.

Sullivan County


IX. The courthouses in Sullivan county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the Newport District Court and the Claremont District Court.
X. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Newport district and the New London district in Merrimack county shall be heard in the Newport District Court.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Claremont district shall be heard in the Claremont District Court.

Strafford County


XI. The courthouses in Strafford county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the Dover District Court and the Strafford county court facility in Dover.
XII. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Dover-Somersworth-Durham district shall be heard in the Dover District Court.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Rochester district shall be heard in the Strafford county court facility in Dover.

Belknap County


XIII. The courthouse in Belknap county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be a facility located in Laconia, provided, however, that the facility meets the minimum standard prescribed by the New Hampshire court accreditation commission pursuant to RSA 490:5-c.
XIV. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Laconia district shall be heard in the judicial branch family division facility in Laconia.
(b) Matters arising in the towns of Sanbornton and Tilton shall be heard in the Franklin District Court in Merrimack county.

Hillsborough County


XV. The courthouses in Hillsborough county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the Manchester District Court, the Goffstown District Court, the Hillsborough County Superior Court for the southern judicial district, the Milford District Court, the Merrimack District Court and, upon completion of construction, the Henniker-Hillsborough District Court.
XVI. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Manchester district shall be heard in the Manchester District Court.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Goffstown district shall be heard in the Goffstown District Court.
(c) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Nashua district shall be heard in the Hillsborough County Superior Court for the southern judicial district.
(d) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Milford district shall be heard in the Milford District Court.
(e) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Merrimack district shall be heard in the Merrimack District Court.
(f) Matters arising in Hillsborough county municipalities located within the Jaffrey-Peterborough district shall be heard in the Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court in Cheshire county.
(g) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Hillsborough district shall be heard in the Henniker District Court in Merrimack county until the completion of construction of the Henniker-Hillsborough District Court facility in Hillsborough county, whereupon those matters shall be heard in the Henniker-Hillsborough District Court in Hillsborough county.

Merrimack County


XVII. The courthouses in Merrimack county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the Franklin District Court, the Hooksett District Court, the Henniker District Court until the completion of construction of the Henniker-Hillsborough District Court facility, and a facility located in Concord, provided, however, that the facility meets the minimum standard prescribed by the New Hampshire court accreditation commission pursuant to RSA 490:5-c.
XVIII. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Franklin district shall be heard in the Franklin District Court.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Hooksett district shall be heard in the Hooksett District Court.
(c) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Concord district shall be heard in the judicial branch family division facility in Concord.
(d) Matters arising in the towns of New London, Newbury, and Wilmot shall be heard in the Newport District Court in Sullivan county.
(e) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Henniker district shall be heard in the Henniker District Court in Merrimack county until the completion of construction of the Henniker-Hillsborough District Court facility in Hillsborough county, whereupon those matters shall be heard in the Henniker-Hillsborough District Court in Hillsborough county.

Cheshire County


XIX. The courthouses in Cheshire county which will house the judicial branch family division shall be the Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court and a facility located in Keene, provided, however, that the facility meets the minimum standard prescribed by the New Hampshire court accreditation commission pursuant to RSA 490:5-c.
XX. (a) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Jaffrey-Peterborough district shall be heard in the Jaffrey-Peterborough District Court.
(b) Matters arising in municipalities located within the Keene district shall be heard in the judicial branch family division facility in Keene.

Source. 2005, 177:14. 2006, 25:1. 2009, 165:1, 2, eff. July 8, 2009. 2010, 193:2, eff. June 21, 2010. 2019, 235:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2020. 2020, 29:10, eff. Sept. 21, 2020.

Section 490-D:5

    490-D:5 Implementation Plan. – On the effective date of this chapter, the judicial branch family division shall be operational in Grafton and Rockingham counties. For the remaining counties, the judicial branch family division shall be made operational by order of the supreme court, generally in the order listed in RSA 490-D:4.

Source. 2005, 177:14, eff. July 1, 2005.

Section 490-D:6

    490-D:6 Repealed by 2011, 88:29(1), eff. July 1, 2011. –

Section 490-D:7

    490-D:7 Nominations and Appointments of Marital Masters. –
I. The administrative judge of the judicial branch family division, with the concurrence of the supreme court, shall recommend persons to the governor and council for initial appointment as marital masters. In recommending candidates for initial appointment as marital masters under this chapter, the division shall utilize the procedures and standards described in the rules of the judicial branch family division, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
II. For appointments of new marital masters, the administrative judge of the judicial branch family division, with the concurrence of the supreme court, shall submit to the governor the name of a nominee. The governor may accept the candidate nominated by the administrative judge and submit the candidate to the council for confirmation or may reject the candidate submitted by the administrative judge, and request a new nominee. If the council rejects a candidate for confirmation, the governor shall request a new nominee.
III. Marital masters shall serve an initial term of 3 years. Subsequent reappointments shall be made in accordance with judicial branch family division rules. During appointment terms, the authority and responsibility to conduct annual performance reviews, and termination, if necessary, shall be with the administrative judge of the judicial branch family division.

Source. 2005, 177:14. 2008, 128:1, eff. June 3, 2008.

Section 490-D:8

    490-D:8 Qualifications of Marital Masters. –
I. Marital masters shall possess the following qualifications:
(a) Professional experience in family law matters.
(b) Legal and personal qualities including, but not limited to:
(1) Knowledge of family matters, including related matters such as tax and pension law;
(2) Personal maturity so as to understand and make decisions on matters before the court; and
(3) Personal qualities of patience and understanding of the difficult personal matters which are the subject of divorce and a willingness to deal with complex family matters in a non-adversarial manner.
II. Each marital master shall complete a course in court process and procedures and mediation and negotiation.

Source. 2005, 177:14, eff. July 1, 2005.

Section 490-D:9

    490-D:9 Recommendations of Marital Masters. – All recommendations of marital masters shall be signed by a judge. The judge signing such recommendations shall certify that he or she has read the recommendations and agrees that the marital master has applied the correct legal standard to the facts determined by the marital master.

Source. 2005, 177:14, eff. July 1, 2005. 2010, 320:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2011.

Section 490-D:10

    490-D:10 Repealed by 2011, 88:29(2), eff. July 1, 2011. –

Section 490-D:11

    490-D:11 Repealed by 2011, 88:29(3), eff. July 1, 2011. –

Section 490-D:12

    490-D:12 Judicial Branch Family Division Clerks; Fees. –
I. [Repealed.]
II. Fees as established by the supreme court under RSA 490:26-a shall be paid to the clerk of the applicable circuit court established in RSA 490-F for the benefit of the state. The clerk shall set aside 6 percent of each entry fee paid into the court for deposit into a special escrow account established under RSA 490:26-c and 30 percent of each entry fee paid into the court for deposit into the judicial branch information technology fund established under RSA 490:26-h. The proceeds of fees for motions to appear in court pro hac vice shall be paid into the law library revolving fund established in RSA 490:25, III.
III. The sum of $5 shall be added to each entry fee collected by the circuit court clerk on cases which, prior to the establishment of the judicial branch family division, would have been filed in the probate court. Sums collected under this paragraph shall be deposited in the mediation and arbitration fund established under RSA 490-E:4.

Source. 2005, 177:14. 2007, 234:4. 2008, 123:1. 2009, 144:296, eff. July 1, 2009. 2011, 88:2, 29(4), eff. July 1, 2011. 2013, 88:3, eff. July 1, 2013.

Section 490-D:13

    490-D:13 Repealed by 2011, 88:29(5), eff. July 1, 2011. –

Section 490-D:14

    490-D:14 Statutory References. – During the implementation of the judicial branch family division, references in statutes involving the jurisdiction of the division to the superior, district, or probate courts shall be deemed to include the judicial branch family division. Following the full implementation of the division, those references shall be deemed to be to the judicial branch family division where it has exclusive jurisdiction of a subject matter and to the superior, district, or probate court and the judicial branch family division where the judicial branch family division has concurrent jurisdiction with one or more of those courts.

Source. 2005, 177:14, eff. July 1, 2005.

Section 490-D:15

    490-D:15 Repealed by 2011, 88:29(6), eff. July 1, 2011. –