Divorce and Custody
In both New Hampshire and Vermont, the phrase "Parental Rights and Responsibilities" is now used instead of "Custody."
If your partner is abusive and you are considering divorce or you are seeking custody of your children, the process can be intense. As described on the "Divorce" page, most family court divorce processes assume that both parents are able to communicate openly and come to a decision that is in the best interest of their children. If your partner is abusive, this process may be much more complicated.
In cases of custody and domestic violence, it may be especially helpful to find an attorney to help with your case.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities cases can take a long time to be resolved - whether as part of a divorce or on their own. In the mean time, if you are immediately concerned for your safety or the safety of your children, you have options.
- Consider filing for a restraining order, which could give you temporary full custody of your children or provide for supervised visitation.
- If you are unable to obtain a restraining order, another option is to file a motion for Emergency Custody. To learn more about Restraining Orders vs. Emergency Custody Orders contact a WISE Advocate (866-348-9473).
Emergency Custody Motions
If you live in New Hampshire, file an "Ex Parte (Emergency) Motion" to ask the court for temporary full custody of your children.
If you live in Vermont, file a "Motion for Emergency Custody" to ask the court for temporary full custody of your children.
Parental Rights & Responsibilities: State Laws
Divorce Procedures When Children Are Involved
In many Parental Rights and Responsibilities cases, courts may appoint third parties to assist in making custody determinations when the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan or custody arrangement for their children. (This is more likely to occur in cases involving domestic violence).
- Custody Evaluators in New Hampshire could include Guardians ad Litem (GALs) or Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs).
- To learn more about GALs in New Hampshire, visit
- To learn more about CASAs in New Hampshire, visit
- Custody Evaluators in Vermont may include Parent Coordinators, Guardians ad Litem and/or a child's attorney.
- To learn more about Parent Coordinators, visit
- To learn more about Guardians ad Litem, visit
If you are concerned for your child's safety while spending time with his/her other parent, you may ask the court to order supervised visitation as part of a permanent restraining order or in a Final Parental Rights and Responsibilities Order/Divorce Decree. To learn more about Supervised Visitation and to find a Supervised Visitation Center:
- Family Court Information on Child Support
- State Child Support Laws
Enforcing Child Support Orders
If you suspect your partner of abusing your children, click here to learn about making a report to child protective services in your state.
As you look through the pages of this section, please keep in mind:
Internet Safety: There are many ways for an abuser to track your computer or internet use. In many cases, it may be safer to use a computer that your abuser has never had access to, such as a computer in a public library, community technology center, or at the home of a trusted friend. To learn more about protecting yourself while using the internet, visit the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Internet Safety Page.
Disclaimers: This website was created strictly for informational purposes and in no way should be construed to constitute legal services, advice or representation. Please consult an attorney in your state for legal advice pertaining to your particular situation.
Many pages on this website include links to other websites. All links will open a new window and direct you to an external website. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the links included, WISE does not assume responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided on an external website. Any links to external websites should be construed only as intended to imply potential interest to the reader, not as a referral of any kind.
If you notice a broken link or you would like to request that a link be removed or updated, please let us know!