New Hampshire Child Support Guide
Child Support Eligibility
Any parent or person with custody of a child who needs help to establish a child support or medical support order or to collect support payments can apply for child support enforcement services. If you would like to apply for child support services, you must complete an application. Even if your child support is ordered payable through DCSS by the court, you must still complete an application. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families applicants (TANF) must, by law, participate in the Child Support Program. If you currently have a Child Support order that is not administered by DCSS, and you apply for services from DCSS to help enforce the order, DCSS cannot enforce your order unless the responsible parent is two months behind on child support payments. DCSS will petition the Court to change your order so that child support payments are sent directly to DCSS. These services are available even when one of the parties does not reside in New Hampshire.
Obligations of Child Support
Child support is a way for parents who don’t live together to share the financial responsibility for their child. The parent living with the child spends a lot of their income to meet the child’s needs. So the other parent pays to help provide the child’s food, clothing, housing, transportation, school supplies, etc. Either parent can ask for a court order—directly from the court, or with the help of the DCSS. The court decides the amount of the order based on both parents’ incomes. Most often, the child support is deducted from one parent’s wages and sent to the other parent. Occasionally, the court allows one parent to pay child support directly to the other parent. Some parents pay child support directly to the other parent without a court order. While this may seem easier when both parents are cooperating, it doesn’t provide security for either one if there are disagreements. If you are paying child support directly to your child’s other parent—with or without a court order—keep written records of all your receipts and cancelled checks are good payment records. It is best not to make child support payments in cash.
Establishing Child Support Order.
Once paternity is determined, New Hampshire DCSS will work to establish a legal order for support in court. The amount of the court order is based on both parents’ income, ability to pay, and access to health insurance for your child. When establishing an order for the first time, be sure to bring your Social Security Number, your child’s birth certificate, and all available income and medical information for both parents. Usually, when a court order is established, one parent will be required to pay child support in the amount and frequency stated in the order. DCSS sends collected child support payments to the payee within two business days of receiving the payment.
The only way a child can have a legal father, if the parents are unmarried, is if paternity is established. Most often this is done by both parents signing a form in the hospital or in the city or town clerk’s office where the child was born. Either parent can also request that the court order genetic testing and name the legal father. Establishing paternity gives your child important rights he or she would not otherwise have.
To determine paternity, DCSS will need information about the child’s father and the relationship between the parents at the time of the child’s conception or birth. DCSS must know who the child’s father is in order to establish a support order. If the parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth, paternity should be established as early as possible. By establishing paternity your child benefits: financially — through qualifying for child support, certain disability benefits, and inheritance rights, medically — through rights to the father’s health insurance benefits and information; and, emotionally — through a sense of identity and security.
Paternity Determination Without the Court
When the child’s parents are unmarried and want to legally establish paternity they can do so in court or they can complete an Affidavit of Paternity. The Affidavit of Paternity is a simple way
for unmarried parents to establish paternity for their child.
Disputed Paternity – Genetic Testing
If a parent does not agree that the child is theirs, a genetic test must be done. This simple test can be done with a small sample of saliva. Either parent may request the test. If paternity is not recorded on a birth certificate, DCSS will have to prove paternity and may use genetic testing to do so. If genetic testing is needed, both parents and the child will need to be tested to accurately determine paternity. Testing involves a sample of DNA from the mouth area of both parents and the child using a cotton swab. The test is done by medical professionals and is painless.
Putative Father Registry
New Hampshire has a Putative Father Registry. Filing a Claim of Paternity Affidavit protects a father’s right to receive notice of a pending intrastate or interstate adoption and the right to request a hearing to prove paternity. The Claim may be filed prior to the birth of the child but must be filed prior to the birth mother’s parental rights being voluntarily surrendered or involuntarily terminated. Upon the filing of an intrastate or interstate adoption proceeding, the court will check the Registry for a Claim, and will issue the required notice to the provided address. Failure to timely register a Claim of Paternity shall bar the alleged father from thereafter bringing an action to establish his paternity of the child.
Locating Non-custodial Parents
You have the right to get support for your child. However, you may not know where to find the other parent or your former partner may not acknowledge that he is the parent of your child. DCSS has many tools available to find the non-custodial parent. You can help DCSS locate a parent by giving as much information as possible to your child support worker.
Payment of Child Support
Receiving Child Support
All child support obligations established by New Hampshire Courts are calculated as monthly obligations based on the Payor and Payee’s Combined Monthly Net Income. For this reason, the Child Support Guideline Calculation Table (Guideline Table) that is published annually by DCSS is based on the Payor and Payee’s monthly income.
Pursuant to New Hampshire Administrative Rule He-W 403.02, adopted on May 1, 2010, all child support payments collected by DCSS must be disbursed by electronic payment delivery instead of by paper check.
New Hampshire 2013 Sample Child Support Guideline Percentages
|Combined Annual||1 CHILD
| 2 CHILDREN
|4 or More
Modification of Child Support Amount
A support order can only be changed if three years have passed since the date of the most recent order for support OR there has been a substantial change in circumstances that makes the original order unfair to one or both of the parties.
Federal regulations require DCSS review any order when financial assistance and some types of medical assistance are being provided for the child(ren) named in the order, if any of the following apply:
• It has been three years since your order was issued or modified.
• The financial situation of either party has changed significantly since your order was issued or modified.
• Medical support was not included in your order and the child(ren) do not have health insurance other than Medicaid, or an adjustment to the medical support order would assure that the child(ren)’s health care needs be better addressed.
DCSS will provide notice to all child support payees and payors when it determines that an order must be reviewed and will request the Payee and Payor provide current financial and/or health insurance information and participate in the review.
New Hampshire law requires any order where support is payable through DCSS to include a “medical support” provision. “Medical support” means the obligation of either or both parents to provide health insurance to cover the dependent child(ren), if accessible and available at reasonable cost. “Accessible” means the primary care services are located within 50 miles or one hour from the child’s primary residence. “Reasonable cost” means that the medical support obligation does not exceed 4 percent of the parent’s individual gross income as calculated by NH Child Support Guidelines. If your current order does not include a medical support provision addressing reasonable cost, the agreement or petition you file with the court must include a medical support provision addressing reasonable cost.
Enforcement of Child Support Obligations
Successful enforcement depends on the quality of the information available. Most child support payments are paid through income assignment where a portion of the payor’s paycheck is withheld and sent to the DCSS State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The SDU processes and sends the money to the payee electronically by one of the following two options: 1) direct deposit into payee’s bank account (checking or savings account), or 2) direct deposit to a Debit Card account provided to the payee by a DCSS-contracted vendor. When payments are not paid, are not paid on time, or are not paid in full (according to the court order), DCSS may take enforcement action. It is important that you understand that DCSS or the court, not the payee, decides the type and level of enforcement action. To enforce payment of arrearages, DCSS may:
File Liens against a payor’s Personal & Real Property
Intercept a payor’s Tax Refunds
Inform Credit Bureaus
Take a portion of a payor’s Unemployment Compensation Benefits
Suspend a License
Request Passport Denial
Intercept Lottery Prizes
Schedule a Court Hearing
Military Service Modification of Child Support
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
If you are called to active duty, you are protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly called the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. The purpose of the SCRA is to allow United States military personnel to devote their full attention to the defense of our nation by temporarily suspending judicial and administrative civil proceedings that may impact their rights. In some instances, your military service activation may make you eligible for a change in your child support order during your time of service. If you feel that you qualify, you may ask the court to modify your order by filing a motion to modify.
New Hampshire Financial Assistance
If you need financial help, either temporarily or in addition to child support, there is help in New Hampshire! The Division of Family Assistance administers programs and services for eligible NH residents by providing financial, medical, food & nutritional assistance, help with child care costs and emergency help to obtain and keep safe housing. Family Assistance staff determines initial and continuing eligibility, the amount of benefits and deliver benefits using federal and NH guidelines and policies. The Division of Family Assistance now offers NH EASY, New Hampshire’s Electronic Application System.
New Hampshire Child Support Resource Line:
(800) 852-3345, ext. 4427
Note: The foregoing information is provided as general child support law guidelines in New Hampshire and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case. After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to
About The Children.
Submitted by Linda O’Marie, Paralegal