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Legal Information: New Hampshire

New Hampshire Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

Protective Orders (due to domestic violence)

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in New Hampshire?

This section defines abuse (domestic violence) for the purposes of getting a protective order.

According to New Hampshire law, “abuse” happens when a family or household member, or current or former sexual or intimate partner commits or tries to commit one of the following crimes against you and the behavior causes a present threat to the your safety:

Note: Even if the abuser committed one (or more) of these acts against you a long time before you filed your petition, the judge can still consider these older acts if, in combination with the abuser’s recent conduct, they show an ongoing pattern of behavior which reasonably causes (or has caused) you to fear for your safety or well-being.1 Also, if you and the abuser reconciled (got back together) after a previous protective order and prior to filing the current petition, the judge cannot use this fact as a reason to deny you a new order or terminate an existing protective order.2

If you do not believe that your situation fits into what is described above, you may want to read our Stalking Protective Orders page.

1 N.H. Rev. Stat § 173-B:1(I)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat § 173-B:5(III)

What types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of orders:

Temporary (emergency) ex parte protective orders issued via telephone. If you are in immediate danger of domestic violence and the court is closed, you may get an emergency order by going to or calling the nearest police department.  A police officer can help you fill out the forms and contact a judge by telephone. The judge may give you an emergency order over the phone or via fax machine if s/he believes you are in imminent danger. If you get an order over the phone, it will last until the close of the next business day that the court is open. For the protection to remain in effect, you will have to go to the circuit court where you live or where you fled to (unless the judge orders you to go to a different court) before the close of the next business day to request a protective order that will last longer.1 

Temporary ex parte protective orders issued in court. When you go to court to file for a protective order, if the judge believes there is an immediate/present danger of abuse, the judge can order a temporary ex parte order to protect you until you have a full hearing on the protective order.  The defendant/abuser has the right to file a written request with the clerk of the court to request a hearing to fight against the order, which would be held within 3 to 5 business days - and this hearing would count as the final protective order hearing.1  If the defendant does not request this immediate hearing, the hearing for the final order will generally be held within 30 days of when you filed the petition or within 10 days of when the defendant is served with the papers, whichever is later.2  You must attend whatever hearing is scheduled in order to continue your order.

Final protective orders. A final protective order can be issued only after a court hearing where you and the abuser have the right to be present and to each present your evidence, testimoney, etc.  A final order will last up to 1 year, unless otherwise stated.3  Orders may also be extended - see How do I change, extend or cancel my protective order?

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:4(I)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:3(VII)(a)
3 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(VI)

What protections can I get in a protective order?

A temporary ex parte protective order and a final protective order can order the defendant:

  • to hand over all firearms, ammunition and other deadly weapons in his/her control or possession to a peace officer;1 (Note: Later on, the judge has the power to issue a search warrant authorizing a peace officer to seize (take) any weapons, firearms and ammunition, if there is probable cause to believe that the defendant didn’t hand them over as ordered);2
  • to not abuse you, your relatives (regardless of where they live), or your household members in any way.
  • to not enter your home or the area immediately surrounding your home (the curtilage) unless s/he is accompanied by a peace officer, provides reasonable notice to you, and you agree to allow him/her to retrieve personal belongings;
  • to not contact you or enter your work, school, or any other place that you include in the order that is regularly visited by you or by any family or household member.
  • to not take, destroy or damage any property that you may be legally entitled to;
  • to stay away from any animal owned or possessed by you, the abuser, or a minor child in either or your households and forbidding the defendant/abuser from taking, giving away, or hiding the animal, or committing an act of cruelty or neglect against the animal (and giving you the care, custody, or control of the animal).1

A temporary ex parte protective order can order the following additional protections:

  • order the defendant not to take any action that would lead to the disconnection of any and all utilities and services to your home; and not to discontinue existing business or service contracts, including, but not limited to, mortgage or rental agreements.3
  • grant custody of minor children to either party (or, with notice, to the state when it is in the best interest of a child);
  • deny the defendant visitation, order that visitation be supervised (or that it only take place only at a supervised visitation center that uses a metal detection device and has trained security personnel on-site), or order a specific visitation schedule. Visitation can only be ordered in an ex parte order where the judge determines that it can be safely ordered and the judge will consider the following factors when deciding this:
    • the degree to which visitation exposes the you or the children to physical or psychological harm;
    • whether this risk can be removed by ordering supervised visitation or by ordering supervised visitation at a center that uses a metal detection device and has trained security personnel on-site; and
    • whether visitation can be ordered without requiring the plaintiff and defendant to have contact regarding the exchange of children.4
  • grant you (the petitioner) the exclusive use and possession of the home, an automobile, household furniture if the defendant has the legal duty to support you or your minor children, or if you have contributed to the household expenses (and the judge will consider the type and amount of contribution to be a factor.)3

A final protective order can order the following additional protections:

  • grant you the exclusive use and possession of the home and the area immediately surrounding your home (the curtilage) unless all of the following are true:
    • the defendant is the only owner of the home or the only one on the lease; and
    • s/he pays for the premises; and
    • the defendant has no legal duty to support you or your minor children who are on the premises;
  • order the defendant not to withhold specific items of your personal property (and a peace officer can go with you to get these items);
  • grant to you the exclusive right to use/possess the household furniture and/or a specific automobile, unless the defendant exclusively owns such personal property and the defendant has no legal duty to support you or your minor children;
  • order the defendant to make automobile, insurance, health care, utilities, rent, or mortgage payments;
  • grant temporary custody of the parties’ minor children to either party or, where appropriate, to the department;
  • establish visitation rights with regard to the parties’ minor children. In order to secure the safety of you and your children, the judge can deny visitation, order that visitation be supervised (or that it only take place only at a supervised visitation center that uses a metal detection device and has trained security personnel on-site), or order a specific visitation schedule. The judge will consider whether visitation can be exercised by the non-custodial parent without risk to you or your children’s safety by looking at the following factors:
    • the degree to which visitation exposes the you or the children to physical or psychological harm;
    • whether this risk can be removed by ordering supervised visitation or by ordering supervised visitation at a center that uses a metal detection device and has trained security personnel on-site; and
    • whether visitation can be ordered without requiring you and defendant to have contact regarding the exchange of children.
  • order the defendant to pay financial support to you and/or your minor children, unless the defendant has no legal duty to support the you or your minor children.
  • ordering the abuser to attend a batterer’s intervention program or personal counseling (but the judge cannot order joint counseling for you and the abuser).
  • ordering the defendant to pay you money for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse, which may include, but not be limited to, loss of income, medical and dental expenses, damage to property, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained, and moving and shelter expenses; and
  • ordering the defendant to pay reasonable attorney’s fees.5

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 173-B:4(I)(a); 173-B:5(I)(a)
2N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 173-B:4(II); 173-B:5(II)
3N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:4(I)(b)
4N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:4(I)(a)
5 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(I)(b)

In which county can I file for a protective order?

You can file a petition in the county/district where you live or where the abuser lives.1 If you have fled your home to avoid further abuse, you also have the option of filing the petition in the county/district where you are temporarily living.2 However, if you are trying to keep your address confidential, filing in the county where you have fled to would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:3(I)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:2

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Who can get a protective order

Who is eligible to get a protective order?

You are eligible to file for a protective order if you have experienced acts of abuse (as defined in What is the legal definition of domestic violence in New Hampshire?) committed by:

  • a family or household member, which is defined as:
    • a spouse, ex-spouse, someone you live with or used to live with, your parent, or any other person you are related to by blood or marriage (except for any minor children who live with the defendant/abuser; or
  • a current or former sexual partner; or
  • a current or former intimate partner, which is defined as:
    • someone who you currently or formerly had a romantic relationship with (it doesn’t matter if you never had sexual relations with this person).1

If someone who does not fit these descriptions is abusing or stalking you, you may also want to read our Stalking Protective Orders page.

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:1(I),(X),(XV)

Can I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?

In New Hampshire, you may apply for a protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who is eligible to get a protective order?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in New Hampshire?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can the judge issue a mutual protective order or cross-protective orders?

A mutual order occurs when one person files for an order and instead of granting the order to the petitioner, the judge issues an order for the petitioner and defendant against each other.1 Under New Hampshire law, a judge cannot grant a mutual order.1

A cross-order occurs when each party files a petition for a protective order against each other. The judge can only grant a cross-order if:

  • the judge has specifically determined that each party has committed abuse against the other; and
  • the is unable to figure out who is the primary physical aggressor.2

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(V)(a)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(V)(b)

How much does it cost to get a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no fee to file for a protective order or to have the order served upon the defendant/abuser.1

You don’t need a lawyer, but in some cases it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel.  To find a local program or organization in your area, please visit our NH Advocates and Shelters page. 

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:(III)

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

Steps for getting a protective order

Step 1: Get the necessary forms.

To start your case, you will need to fill out the necessary forms for a protective order.

You can find the forms from the civil clerk at the courthouse in the county/district where you live or where the abuser lives.  You can find the address for the courthouse on our NH Courthouse Locations page.  Some people choose to download the forms first and fill them out at home or with an advocate from a domestic violence organization or shelter.  You will find links to forms online on the NH Download Court Forms page.

Most shelters and other domestic violence organizations can provide support for you while you fill out these papers and go to court. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the NH Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

Step 2: Carefully fill out the forms.

On the complaint, you will be the “plaintiff” and the abuser will be the “defendant.”

On the complaint, in the box provided for explaining why you want the order, write about the most recent incidents of violence, using specific language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. Clerks and magistrates can show you which blanks to fill in, but they cannot help you decide what to write.

If you are staying at a shelter, give a Post Office Box, not the street address. If you do not have a safe address, do not fill it out - ask the clerk first how you can keep your address confidential.

Note: Do not sign the forms until you are in front of a notary or a clerk. The clerk can usually notarize the forms for you. Be sure to bring photo ID for the notary.

Step 3: A judge or marital master will consider your petition.

The clerk will take your completed forms to a judge or master while you wait. The judge or master will look at your petition and decide if there is enough immediate danger to give you a temporary order. The judge or master may ask you some questions, or may decide based only on your petition. If the judge or master grants the order, you will get a copy of it from the clerk.

The judge will also set a hearing date for your final protective order.

Step 4: Service of process

The abuser must be “served” with your petition and the notice of the hearing date, along with your temporary protective order (if the judge or master gave you one). There is no charge to have the authorities (a peace officer or the sheriff’s department) serve the abuser.1

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:3(III)

Step 5: The final hearing

The judge will hold a hearing within 30 days of the date you filed your petition or within 10 days of when the defendant/abuser was served,  whichever occurs later.  The hearing can be extended for an additional 10 days upon the request of either party if there is good cause to do so.1

Note: New Hampshire law allows a judge to consider any evidence that the judge believes is relevant and important.  Unlike other court hearings and trials, the judge is not bound by the technical rules of evidence in a protective order hearing.2

If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire (if you were granted one). If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a protective order, or s/he may reschedule the hearing.  If you cannot go to the hearing at the scheduled time, you may call the court to ask that your case be “continued,” but the judge may deny your request.

You may wish to hire a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  If the abuser shows up with a lawyer, you can ask the judge for a “continuance” (a later court date) so that you have time to find a lawyer.  To find a lawyer or legal services program in your area, please visit our NH Finding a Lawyer page.  You can also represent yourself in court.  See our Preparing Your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:3(VII)(a),(b)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:3(VIII)

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in New Hampshire have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

If I briefly get back together with the abuser, does this make the order invalid?

No. Even if you temporarily reconcile (get back together) with the abuser while you have your protective order, this does not revoke (cancel) the order.1 The law in New Hampshire is clear that the police are supposed to enforce a protective order as it is written and that no action by either party relieves the officer of the duty to enforce the order.2

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(VIII)(a)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 173-B:5(VIII)(d)

What should I do when I leave the courtroom?

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local police, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including considering changing your locks and your phone number. Please call your local crisis center for help with safety planning toll free at 1-800-277-5570.

It is important to recognize that a protective order has limits. For a protective order to be as effective as possible, you must be vigilant in enforcing the order by reporting every violation to the police or the court.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. Women can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when leaving or preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not, and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. Click on the following link for suggestions on Safety Tips.  Advocates at local resource centers can help you design a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. There is a list of organizations that may be able to help you on the NH Advocates and Shelters page under teh Places that Help tab on the top of this page.

I was not granted a protective order. What are my options?

If you are not granted an Protective Order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the NH Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

If you were not granted an Protective Order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a family or household member, you may be able to seek protection through a Stalking Order. You will find more information about this process on our Stalking Protective Orders page.

You may also be able to reapply for an Protective Order if you have new evidence to show the court that domestic abuse did occur, or if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the Order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Call the police, even if you think it is a minor violation. It is a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order in any way. Contempt of court is when someone breaks a court order. A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court.

If the police have good cause to believe that you have been assaulted within the past 12 hours by the abuser, they may immediately arrest the abuser.

If the abuser violates a protective order by committing criminal trespass, stalking or another criminal act, the police must arrest and prosecute him. In addition, you may take the abuser back to court on a charge of contempt.

It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

If the police do not arrest your abuser, you may file a criminal complaint yourself or a petition for contempt. You can call your local police department or district court to obtain a complaint or petition for contempt form.

Because most people are released from custody soon after their arrest, do not expect the abuser to be confined to jail until the trial. You may request as a bail condition that the abuser stay away from you. 1

1 173-B:9 Violation of Protective Order; Penalty

How do I change, extend, or cancel my protective order?

Once an order is granted, only a judge can “dissolve”, or get rid of, it. If you want a final order to last longer, you may go back to court and ask a judge to extend your order. You should go in before your first order expires, or you may have to start all over.

After the expiration of the first order, the court may extend your order for one more year and from then on each extension may be for up to 5 years.

The court will usually extend your order when you apply, and then notify the abuser. The abuser may request a hearing to dispute the extension, which you will have to attend.

If you decide to let the abuser move back into your house after the court has ordered him to stay away, you must have the court take that part of the order away or the abuser may face arrest. 1

1 173-B:5 Relief

VI. Any order under this section shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed one year, but may be extended by order of the court upon a motion by the plaintiff, showing good cause, with notice to the defendant, for one year after the expiration of the first order and thereafter each extension may be for up to 5 years, upon the request of the plaintiff and at the discretion of the court. The court shall review the order, and each renewal thereof and shall grant such relief as may be necessary to provide for the safety and well-being of the plaintiff. A defendant shall have the right to a hearing on the extension of any order under this paragraph to be held within 30 days of the extension. The court shall state in writing, at the respondent’s request, its reason or reasons for granting the extension. The court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce and collect the financial support obligation which accrued prior to the expiration of the protective order.

VII. Both parties shall be issued written copies of any orders issued by the court, and all orders shall bear the following language: “A willful violation of this order is a crime, as well as contempt of court. Violations of the protective provisions shall result in arrest and may result in imprisonment.” Orders shall clearly state how any party can request a further hearing and how the plaintiff may bring a criminal complaint or a petition for contempt if there is a violation of any court order.

VIII. (a) No order issued under this chapter shall be modified other than by the court. Temporary reconciliations shall not revoke an order.

What happens if I move?

If you move within New Hampshire, your Order will still be valid and good.1

However, It is a good idea to call the Clerk to change your address if you won’t be getting mail at your old address. That’s because the court will communicate with you only by mail if anything happens to your protective order - for example, if your abuser asks the court to dismiss the order or if your order is changed in any way.

If you provide your new address to the Court, it will be kept in a confidential part of your file, and the public will not have access to it. However, your new address could possibly be released to court or law enforcement officials. If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may be able to use the address of a friend you trust or a P.O. Box instead.

Additionally, the federal law provides what is called “Full Faith and Credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands. Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area.

If you are moving out of state, you should call the battered women’s program in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.

If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order there.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 NH Rev. Stat. § 173-B:13

Stalking Protective Orders

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence protective order, you may be able to get a stalking protective order. Stalking protective orders can be filed against someone with whom you do not have any prior intimate or familial relationship.

Basic info and definitions

What is the legal definition of stalking in New Hampshire?

A person commits the offense of stalking if s/he does any of the following:

  1. purposely or recklessly engages in a “course of conduct” (defined below) that targets you (or any specific person), which causes you to fear for your safety or the safety of a member of your immediate family and which would reasonably cause anyone to fear for his/her safety or family’s safety;
  2. purposely engages in a “course of conduct” (defined below) that targets you (or any specific person), which s/he knows will place you in fear for your safety or the safety of your immediate family; or
  3. after being served with a protective order that prohibits contact with you (or any specific person), s/he purposely or recklessly engages in a single act of conduct that both violates the provisions of the protective order and that is listed below in the definition of “course of conduct.”

A “course of conduct” means 2 or more of the following acts (or similar acts) that are committed by the offender over any period of time and that have no legitimate purpose (other than to contact you). S/he could be the same type of act twice or a combination of the following acts:

  • threatening your safety or the safey of an immediate family member;
  • following, approaching, or confronting you or a member of your immediate family;
  • coming close to you or your immediate family member, or entering thehome, work, school of you or your immediate family member or entering another place where you or your immediate family member can be found;
  • causing damage to the residence or property of you or your immediate family member;
  • placing an object on the property, either directly or through a third person, of you or your immediate family member;
  • causing injury to the pet owned by you or your immediate family member;2
  • any act of communication, including through email, text, phone, mail, etc.3

Note: Any of the following people can be considered an immediate family member: parent, step-parent, child, step-child, sibling, spouse, grandparent, any person living in your home, or any person involved in an intimate relationship with you.4

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a (I)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 633:3-a(II)(a)
3 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 633:3-a(II)(a); 644:4(II)
4 N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 633:3-a(II)(b)

Who can file for a stalking protective order?

Anyone who has been a victim of stalking (as defined in here) can file a petition for a stalking protective order.1  Unlike with a domestic violence protective order, a stalking victim is not required to prove a prior relationship existed in order to petition for a stalking protective order. However, if the victim of stalking and the stalker are members of the same family or household, or are intimate partners, victims are encouraged to file for a domestic violence protective order instead.2 

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-a)
2 See Governor’s Commission On Domestic and Sexual Violence and Office of The Attorney General Stalking Protocol: A Model for Law Enforcement 2009 (page 26)

Can I file for a stalking protective order if I am a minor? What if the stalker is a minor?

Yes, you can file if you are a minor. You can also file against a minor (if you are an adult or a minor).1

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-b)

What protections can I get in a stalking protective order?

The types of protections that the judge can grant to you are the same as those given in a domestic violence protective order, which you can read about on our How can a protective order help me? page.1

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-a)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Getting the order

Where do I file? What are the steps?

To file for a stalking protective order, you would file in the district court in the district where you or the stalker live. The steps to file for a stalking protective order are also similar to those for a domestic violence protective orders, which you can see on our Steps for getting for a protective order page.1

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-a)

How long does a stalking protective order last? Can it be extended?

A final staking protection order can last for up to one year. You can file a motion to extend it and if you can prove that there is “good cause” to extend it, the judge can extend it for one year. However, after that first one year-extension, you can file to extend it again for up to 5 years per extension.1

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(III-c)

What happens if the stalking protective order is violated?

If the order is violated and you call the police, the police officer can arrest the stalker if the officer has probable cause to believe that the stalker has violated the order within the past 12 hours.  It does not matter if the violation happened in front of the officer or not.1  Usually, a violation of this section is a class A misdemeanor but it could be a felony if the person has prior convictions for stalking within a certain time period.2  For more information, see our NH Statutes page, section 633:3-a, subsection VI(a).

1 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(V)
2 N.H. Rev. Stat. § 633:3-a(VI) 

Moving to Another State with a Protective Order

If you are moving to another state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your protective order can still be enforceable in another state.

General rules

I have an emergency protective order.  Can it be enforced in another state?

No.  Because your abuser doesn’t have the opportunity to respond to an emergency order you get when the court is closed, New Hampshire emergency protective orders are not good under federal law.  While an emergency order can be enforced anywhere inside New Hampshire, other states would not be required to enforce it.1

Emergency protective orders are only good for one business day. Once you get an emergency protective order, you can go to court the next day that it’s open to ask for a temporary protective order.  Other states are required to enforce valid temporary protective orders from New Hampshire.

 1 Chapter 15 of the New Hampshire Judiciary Domestic Violence Protocol. www.nh.gov/judiciary/district/protocols/dv/c15.pdf

I have a temporary ex parte order.  Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes.  An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

 

I have a final protective order from New Hampshire. Can I get it enforced in another state?

Yes.  If you have a valid New Hampshire protective order or stalking protective order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state.  The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid protective orders granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.  See How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law? to find out if your protective order qualifies.

Each state must enforce protective orders from other states in the same way it enforces its own orders.  Meaning, if your abuser violates your New Hampshire protective order in another state, your abuser will be punished according to the laws of that state.  This is what is meant by “full faith and credit.”

How do I know if my protective order is good under federal law?

Most New Hampshire protective orders are written so that they are valid under federal law.  A New Hampshire protective order, stalking protective order, or no contact order is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

If you have any questions about whether or not your protective order is good under federal law, you can bring your order to a lawyer or domestic violence program in your area.  They can take a look at your order and help you figure it out.  To find a lawyer in your area please visit the NH Finding a Lawyer page.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page. 

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

Getting your protective order enforced in another state

How do I get my protective order enforced in another state? 

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protection from abuse order (PFA) enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid PFA is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our NH Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my protective order enforced?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your protective order.  A certified copy says that it is a “true and correct” copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp.   A certified copy of a New Hampshire protective order will have a stamp with a raised seal.

When you first get your protective order, New Hampshire courts are supposed to give you a certified copy.  But if you don’t have a certified copy, you can go to or call the court that gave you the order and ask for a certified copy.  Some courts may require that you go in person and present ID, so you may want to make sure you have a certified copy before leaving New Hampshire if you can.    

If your abuser violates the order & you don’t have a certified copy, the responding police officer can call the court to ask them to fax over a certified copy (this faxed copy can be treated as certified)1.  However, this can take time and may delay getting your order enforced.  Consider getting a certified copy before you need it.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times.  You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move.  Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

1 Chapter 15 of the New Hampshire Judiciary Domestic Violence Protocol. www.nh.gov/judiciary/district/protocols/dv/c15.pdf

Can I get someone to help me through this process?  Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your protective order enforced in another state.  

However, you may want to get help from an advocate at a local domestic violence program or an attorney in the state that you move to.  A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your protective order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.  

To find a program and legal aid in your area that may be able to help you please visit our NH Places that Help page located on the top of this page.

Do I need to tell the court in New Hampshire if I move?

The court that gave you your protective order needs to have an up-to-date address for you at all times. That’s because they will communicate with you only by mail if anything happens to your protective order – for example, if your abuser asks the court to dismiss the order or if your order is changed in any way. If you will not be receiving mail at your old address, you must provide the court with a new address where you can receive mail.

If you provide your new address to the court, it will be kept in a confidential part of your file and the public will not have access to it. However, your new address could possibly be released to court officials in your new state or law enforcement officials. If you feel unsafe giving your new address, you may be able to use the address of a friend you trust or a P.O. box instead.

Enforcing custody provisions in another state

I was granted temporary custody with my protective order.  Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes. Federal law says that the law enforcement and the courts in another state must enforce custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a NH protective order.1

1 18 USC § 2266

I was granted temporary custody with my protective order.  Can I take my kids out of the state? 

Maybe. It will depend on the exact wording of the custody provision (part) of your protective order. You may have to first seek the permission of a New Hampshire court before leaving, especially if you want to leave the state permanently. If your abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a domestic violence advocate or lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the NH area on our NH Advocates and Shelters page.

Enforcing Your Out-Of-State Order in New Hampshire

If you are planning to move to New Hampshire or are going to be in New Hampshire for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in New Hampshire

Can I get my protective order enforced in New Hampshire? What are the requirements?

Yes.  Your protective order can be enforced in New Hampshire as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

If you have any questions about whether or not your protective order can be enforced in NH, bring your order to a lawyer or domestic violence program in your area.  They can take a look at your order and help you figure it out.  To find an advocate or organization in your area please visit the NH Places that Help page.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

Can I have my out-of-state protective order changed, extended, or canceled in NH?

No.  Only the state that originally gave you your protective order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in New Hampshire.   

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to ask the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to change, extend, or cancel a protective order, see the Restraining Orders page on this website for the state where your order was issued. (Select the tab on the top fo this page that says State Laws and scroll to Restraining Orders.  Then chose the state where your order was initially issued from the drop down menu on that page).

If your order does expire while you are living in New Hampshire, you may be able to get a new one issued in New Hampshire but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred since you got your original protective order and/or if no abuse has occurred in New Hampshire.  To find out more information on how to get a protective order in New Hampshire, visit our NH Protective Orders page. 

I was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protective order.  Will I still have temporary custody of my children in NH?

Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 New Hampshire can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area click here NH Finding a Lawyer.

1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

Registering your out-of-state order in New Hampshire

If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?

To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.1

There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.

Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.2 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.

1 National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
2 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016

How do I register my protective order in New Hampshire?

You can register your out-of-state protective order by bringing a certified copy of your order to the clerk of court at any district or superior court in New Hampshire.1 (To find courthouse locations, please see our NH Courthouse Locations page). If you do not have a certified copy of your protective order, bring the telephone number of the court that gave you your protective order.  The New Hampshire court can call that court & ask them to fax over a certified copy for you.2  You’ll find listings of courthouses throughout the US on this site – select your state from the drop-down menu on the top left of this page, then click on the link marked “Courthouse Locations and Info”. 

Once the clerk gets a copy of your order, s/he will ask you to sign a Foreign Protection Order Affidavit.  That is a piece of paper that you sign under oath that says, to the best of your knowledge, the copy of the order you have is right and your order hasn’t been changed or canceled.1   Don’t sign this affidavit until the clerk tells you to.  You may need to sign it in front of a notary. 

Once the clerk receives all of this information, s/he will forward it to the Administrative Office of the Courts, who will enter your protective order into the New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry.  The clerk should give you back the certified copy of your protective order, as well as a copy of the Foreign Protection Order Affidavit.2  You should not be asked to pay a fee or cost for filing an out of state order, according to NH state law.

If you need help registering your protective order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in New Hampshire for assistance.  You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our NH Advocates and Shelters page under the Where to Find Tab on the top of this page.

1 N.H. Rev. Stat Sec 173-B:13 
2 Chapter 15 of the New Hampshire Judiciary Domestic Violence Protocol. www.nh.gov/judiciary/district/protocols/dv/c15.pdf

 

 

 

Do I have to register my protective order in New Hampshire in order to get it enforced?

No. New Hampshire state law gives full protection to out-of-state protection orders whether or not they’re registered. It does not have to be registered in order to be enforced by a New Hampshire police officer, as long as it seems to the officer that your order is real.1

While you do not have to register your out-of-state protection order in order to get it enforced, one benefit of registration is that you may be able to get your order enforced, even if you are not carrying a copy of the order with you when you call to report a violation of the order. Out-of-state protective orders that are registered in New Hampshire are kept in the New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry, and New Hampshire police officers should have access to this registry when they come on the scene.

1 N.H. Rev. Stat Sec 173-B:13

What does it mean to register my protective order?

When you register your protective order in New Hampshire, you provide a court with a copy of your order and with information that helps them to verify your order is real. Then the Court forwards information about your protective order along to the New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry.

The New Hampshire State Protective Order Registry has a list of all protective orders that have been issued by the NH courts and registered out-of-state protective orders. The NH Sheriff, police departments, and all law enforcement officials have access to the information in this registry.

If your abuser violates your protective order and you call the police for help, the police may look at the Protective Order Registry. Seeing that your order is in the registry can help the police verify that your protective order is real so they can enforce it quickly.

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protective order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our NH Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

Does it cost anything to register my protective order?

No. There are no fees or costs for registering your out-of-state protective order in New Hampshire.1

1 N.H. Rev. Stat Sec 173-B:13

What if I don’t register my protective order?  Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Maybe.  While neither federal nor New Hampshire law requires that you register or certify your out-of-state protective order in order to get it enforced, if your order is not entered into the NH state registry, it may be more difficult for a NH law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real, which means it could take longer to get your order enforced.  In New Hampshire, however, law enforcement officials are required to enforce any order that seems real and true, whether or not it’s registered.1

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in New Hampshire.  To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in NH, go to our NH Advocates and Shelters page. 

 1 N.H. Rev. Stat Sec 173-B:13