NH Circuit Family Division Expanding in Cheshire County
By: Patrick Ryan
The new consolidated Cheshire County courthouse in Keene is scheduled to open Dec. 16, along with the Jaffrey Family Division (not shown).
The New Hampshire Supreme Court and the New Hampshire Circuit Court announce the opening on Dec. 16 of new courthouses in Keene and Jaffrey as part of the expansion of the Family Division.
With the opening of these Cheshire County courthouses, the Circuit Court Family Division will be operational in all New Hampshire counties.
The expansion coincides with the opening of the new court facility in Keene, which will house all of the trial courts in that city – the Cheshire County Superior Court and the NH Circuit Court, 8th Circuit – district, probate, and family divisions. The Jaffrey Family Division will be located in the current court facility on Peterborough Street in Jaffrey.
The Keene Family Division of the Circuit Court will open in the newly constructed court facility at 33 Winter St. in Keene in December. The towns whose family division case types will flow into the Keene Family Division include Alstead, Chesterfield, Gilsum, Harrisville, Hinsdale, Keene, Marlborough, Marlow, Nelson, Richmond, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Surry, Swanzey, Troy, Walpole, Westmoreland and Winchester.
The Jaffrey Family Division of the Circuit Court will open in the Jaffrey court facility located at 84 Peterborough St. in Jaffrey in December. The towns whose family division case types will flow into the Jaffrey Family Division include Dublin, Fitzwilliam, Greenfield, Greenville, Hancock, Jaffrey, New Ipswich, Peterborough, Rindge, Sharon, and Temple.
Cases Pending in Existing Family Divisions
For the convenience of parties and counsel, cases currently pending in the Manchester and Merrimack Family Divisions that involve petitioners from towns within the jurisdiction of the Jaffrey Family Division will NOT be transferred to the Jaffrey location. However, if a party/counsel desires to transfer an existing case to the Jaffrey location, a request may be made of the Manchester or Merrimack Family Division and, if approved, the case may be transferred to Jaffrey. In addition, once cases now pending in the Manchester or Merrimack Family Division have concluded, if petitioners reside in towns that are within the jurisdiction of the Jaffrey Family Division, all future hearings will take place at the Jaffrey location.
Certain Cases Pending in the Keene Probate Division
For the convenience of parties and counsel, existing minor guardianships, terminations of parental rights, surrenders, and certain adoptions shall continue in the Keene Probate Division and will NOT be transferred to the Jaffrey location. However, if a party/counsel desires to transfer an existing case, a request may be made of the Keene Probate Division and, if approved, the case may be transferred.
Family Division Jurisdiction
The Judicial Branch Family Division has subject matter jurisdiction over a range of cases in family matters as set forth in RSA 490-D:2. In general terms, the family division hears actions for divorce, legal separation, civil union dissolution, parenting, domestic violence protection, delinquency, CHINS, abuse/neglect, termination of parental rights, guardianship of minors, and in adoption actions which relate to abuse/neglect, guardianship, or termination of parental rights proceedings.
Pursuant to RSA 490-D:5, the operational dates for each family division location will be set by order of the NH Supreme Court. An order from the court will be issued prior to the effective date of Dec. 16, 2013.
Patrick Ryan is an attorney and administrator of the New Hampshire Circuit Court.