How long does a domestic violence Restraining Order last?
There are two types of domestic violence Restraining Orders available through the courts. The first is a Temporary Order which may be issued when a petition alleging harm or threat is filed. This order can generally remain in effect for up to thirty days. The second is a Permanent Order which will remain in effect for up to one year. After that, an individual can ask the Court for ongoing Restraining Orders if the threat of harm remains.
The person against whom a Restraining Order has been filed may request an immediate hearing, and the court will generally schedule one within five days. A word to the wise: if you are asking for a hearing, you will need to have yourself, your case, your witnesses, and your exhibits ready. There are no second chances. Too often, those who ask for immediate hearings are not prepared.
It is far better to wait a few extra days or even weeks to present the best case possible after full preparation and consultation with a qualified family law attorney. Remember, a Final Restraining Order usually lasts for up to one full year. This can have a huge impact on you, your family, your children, and your divorce or parenting case.
Is there anything I can do if DCYF gets involved with my family?
Yes. But first, you should consult a qualified family law attorney. The New Hampshire DCYF is the government agency charged with protecting children. If you receive a call, letter, or visit from DCYF, it usually means a report has been filed by someone concerned about the safety or welfare of the children in your household. Sometimes, the DCYF case worker just wants your side of the story. At other times, what you say may lead to further investigation, court action, or criminal charges. The best result of a DCYF investigation is the issuance of an “Unfounded Letter,” closing the case. However, if evidence of abuse or neglect is found, the case will go to court.
In either situation, there can be serious fall-out from a DCYF investigation. The best course of action is to consult with an attorney who has worked with the DCYF in the past and who knows the law. Attorney C. Michael Celenza has represented hundreds of parents and families in cases involving the DCYF. He knows what to do when his clients get a call from the DCYF. Consider calling him before you sit down with the DCYF.
What is “Contempt”?
Contempt is a willful violation of court orders. It is often used as an enforcement tool to get someone to do something they were ordered to, but did not. It can be used to enforce child support payments, debt payment, or the surrender of an asset if someone is court ordered to do so as part of a divorce agreement or parenting plan provision.
Alleging Contempt is a serious matter. If Contempt is found by the court, the offending party can be ordered to pay for legal fees incurred as a result of getting him or her to do what was originally ordered. Remember, Contempt is a willful violation of court orders. It is never taken lightly by the judge, the marital master, or by attorneys handling the case.
Child support—how does it work in New Hampshire?
How much you or your ex-spouse pay in child support is established by New Hampshire law and based on a formula established by the legislature. The statute defines what constitutes income for purposes of child support calculation. In addition, there are certain expenses which are deducted from gross income before calculation of support is determined (i.e. child care expenses paid, state taxes paid, mandatory retirement, the children’s portion of medical coverage costs, and self-employment paid, among other items). When calculating child support, the courts will look at pay stubs and pay statements from both parties. They may also consider the division of parenting time between the parents, the costs of travel for a parent to see his or her child, the special needs of a child, and other factors.
Deviating from state guidelines in New Hampshire (lowering or raising child support payments) is not easy, but can be accomplished under certain circumstances. Remember, however, that child support is intended to help feed, clothe and raise the children. For that reason, the Courts take a hardline when enforcing payments as calculated by state guidelines.