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New Hampshire Grandparents' Rights

Disruption in the Nuclear Family Required



New Hampshire lawmaking is centered in the State House in Concord.

Photo © Jared C. Benedict / Creative Commons

In New Hampshire, both adoptive and natural grandparents may petition the court for "reasonable" visitation with a grandchild, provided that the child does not reside in an intact family, called a nuclear family in the New Hampshire statute. That means that the parents of the grandchild in question are unmarried, divorced or separated; a parent is deceased; or a parent has given up or lost parental rights..

Another condition is that the grandparents must not have had their contact taken away prior to or "contemporaneous with" the disruption of the family. In other words, the grandparent should have been in good standing with the family prior to the death, divorce, separation, etc.

In considering whether visitation would be in the best interest of the child, the court will also consider the following:

  • Whether visitation would interfere with the parent-child relationship or with parental authority
  • The nature of the grandparent-grandchild relationship, including the frequency of contact, any time of residence with the grandparent and the length of time of any such residence
  • Whether the child's physical and emotional health would be endangered by such visitation or lack of it
  • The relationship between the grandparent and the parent of the child, including friction between the grandparent and the parent, and the effect on the child of such friction
  • The circumstances which resulted in the "absence of a nuclear family," including divorce, death, termination or relinquishment of parental rights, or other circumstances
  • The guardian ad litem's recommendation, if one was appointed
  • The child's wishes
  • Any other factors which the court deems relevant.

If the grandchild's parents are not married, legitimacy or paternity must be attached to the petition seeking visitation.

Prior to the 2011 case of In re Athena D, heard by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, it was unclear whether adoption terminates the rights of grandparents in New Hampshire. Although the grandparents in this case lost their suit, the opinion indicates that a termination of parental rights should be considered in the same way as any other disruption of the family unit.

See New Hampshire Revised Statutes, Section 461-A:13.

Learn whether New Hampshire is considered restrictive or permissive in the area of grandparents' rights.

Go back to grandparents rights by state.

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