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Legal Information: New Hampshire

Custody

Laws current as of August 10, 2023

Can a parent who committed domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault get parental rights and responsibilities?

When deciding parental rights and responsibilities, the judge is supposed to consider:

  • any evidence of abuse;
  • the impact of the abuse on the child;
  • the impact of the abuse on the relationship between the child and the abusive parent.1

“Abuse” for these purposes, is defined as any of the following:

  • sexual abuse;
  • physical injury that was caused intentionally or by other than accidental means;
  • psychological injury that causes the child to show symptoms of emotional problems generally recognized to result from consistent mistreatment or neglect;
  • being subjected to human trafficking;
  • being subjected to female genital mutilation; or
  • any act of abuse explained in What is the legal definition of domestic violence in New Hampshire?2

Iif the judge determines that abuse has occurred, the judge must consider such abuse as being harmful to the child and must consider the abuse as evidence in determining whether joint decision-making responsibility is appropriate. The judge is supposed to make an order that best protects the child, the abused parent, or both.3

However, if a parent has been convicted of sexual assault or a court has found that the parent committed sexual abuse against any of his/her children or step-children, the judge can prohibit contact between the abusive parent and the victim of the abuse, as well as any sibling or step-sibling of the victim.4

Note: If you make a good faith allegation, supported by facts, that your child is the victim of physical abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse committed by the other parent and you take reasonable steps to protect your child or get treatment for him/her, you cannot lose parenting time or contact with your child based on your actions.5

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 461-A:6(I)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 461-A:6(I); 169-C:3(II)
3 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 461-A:5(III)
4 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 461-A:6(I)
5 ​N.H. Rev. Stat. § 461-A:6(IV)