Should NH change its alimony laws?

May 15, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

This Wednesday, May 17 a House committee will begin work on two bills to change New Hampshire’s alimony laws.

Alimony is payments to a former spouse. Under current New Hampshire law, judges must consider the needs of the payee, the ability of both spouses to generate income, and a variety of other factors, from the length of the marriage to the fault of either party. There are no formulas or limits in the law, however. 

Sen. Sharon Carson, the sponsor of one of the bills, testified that New Hampshire’s alimony laws give judges too much discretion, which makes alimony outcomes unpredictable. That unpredictability increases the time spouses spend arguing over alimony in court and can result in unequal results for otherwise similar couples.

Mary Krueger, an attorney at New Hampshire Legal Assistance, also testified that domestic violence victims will feel more empowered to leave an abusive marriage if alimony is more predictable.

However, as states across the nation have revised their alimony laws, some are concerned that these revisions hurt stay-at-home spouses by significantly limiting the duration and amount of alimony. 

Both bills under consideration in New Hampshire, SB 71 and HB 521, have limits on the duration of alimony. For example, SB 71 says alimony must stop after 50% of the length of the marriage and/or when the payor retires. However, the bill gives judges power to extend alimony if “the court finds that justice requires a different termination date.”

Do you think New Hampshire should add more legal guidelines for alimony? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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RELATED REPRESENTATIVES

Senator, NH Senate (2008 - present); Representative, NH House of Representatives (2000 - 2008); Member, Pro-Gun New Hampshire Council of Advisors; Member, Board of Governors for the Vesta Roy Women in Government Series; State Director, Women in Go

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