PARENTAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
461-A:6 Determination of Parental Rights and Responsibilities; Best Interest.
I. In determining parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall consider the following factors:
(a) The relationship of the child with each parent and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance.
(b) The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment.
(c) The child's developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet them, both in the present and in the future.
(d) The quality of the child's adjustment to the child's school and community and the potential effect of any change.
(e) The ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing physical, written, and telephonic contact with the other parent, including whether contact is likely to result in harm to the child or to a parent.
(f) The support of each parent for the child's contact with the other parent as shown by allowing and promoting such contact, including whether contact is likely to result in harm to the child or to a parent.
(g) The support of each parent for the child's relationship with the other parent, including whether contact is likely to result in harm to the child or to a parent.
(h) The relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child.
(i) The ability of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other, and make joint decisions concerning the children, including whether contact is likely to result in harm to the child or to a parent.
(j) Any evidence of abuse, as defined in RSA 173-B:1, I or RSA 169-C:3, II, and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.
(k) If a parent is incarcerated, the reason for and the length of the incarceration, and any unique issues that arise as a result of incarceration.
(l) The policy of the state regarding the determination of parental rights and responsibilities described in RSA 461-A:2.
(m) Any other additional factors the court deems relevant.
I-a. If the court concludes that frequent and continuing contact between each child and both parents is not in the best interest of the child, the court shall make findings supporting its order.
II. If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a minor child is of sufficient maturity to make a sound judgment, the court may give substantial weight to the preference of the mature minor child as to the determination of parental rights and responsibilities. Under these circumstances, the court shall also give due consideration to other factors which may have affected the minor child's preference, including whether the minor child's preference was based on undesirable or improper influences.
III. In determining parental rights and responsibilities under this section, including residential responsibility, the court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the sex of the child, the sex of a parent, or the financial resources of a parent.
[Paragraph III-a effective January 1, 2023.]
III-a. In cases where the court is addressing temporary or permanent parental rights and responsibilities due to either the death of a parent or the death of a guardian who has served in that capacity for the child for at least 2 years, the court shall consider, as part of its determination as to the best interests of a child, the contact the child has had with the surviving parent and/or the wishes of the deceased guardian as provided in estate planning documents.
IV. If the court finds that a parent has been convicted of sexual assault or there has been a finding by a court of competent jurisdiction of sexual abuse against such parent's minor child or minor stepchild, the court may prohibit contact between such parent and the victim of the abuse and any sibling or step-sibling of the victim. The court shall make orders that best protect the victim of the abuse and the siblings and step-siblings of such victim.
(a) If a parent makes a good faith allegation based on a reasonable belief supported by facts that the parent's child is a victim of physical abuse or neglect or sexual abuse perpetrated by the other parent and if the parent making the allegation acts lawfully and in good faith in accordance with such belief to protect the child or seek treatment for the child, the parent making the allegation shall not be deprived of parenting time, or contact with the child based on reasonable actions taken in accordance with that belief.
(b) In this paragraph, "
" shall mean sexual abuse as defined in RSA 169-C:3, XXVII-b, and "sexual assault" shall mean sexual assault as provided in RSA 632-A:2, RSA 632-A:3, and RSA 632-A:4.
V. If the court determines that it is in the best interest of the children, it shall in its decree grant reasonable visitation privileges to a party who is a stepparent of the children or to the grandparents of the children pursuant to RSA 461-A:13. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prohibit or require an award of parental rights and responsibilities to a stepparent or grandparent if the court determines that such an award is in the best interest of the child.
VI. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the child according to RSA 461-A:16.
VII. At the request of an aggrieved party, the court shall set forth the reasons for its decision in a written order.
Source. 2005, 273:1. 2010, 273:1, 2. 2017, 156:200, eff. July 1, 2017. 2018, 202:3, 4, eff. Aug. 7, 2018. 2022, 106:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2023.