Frequently Asked Questions
How are New Hampshire courts structured?
The New Hampshire Judicial Branch includes the Supreme Court, the Superior Court, and the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court has three divisions: the District Division, the Probate Division and the Family Division. Cases are handled as follows:
The Supreme Court handles civil, criminal and juvenile appeals and matters involving administrative agencies. It also handles some original petitions, such as a writ of habeas corpus filed by an inmate seeking release from prison.
The Superior Court has jurisdiction over a wide variety of cases, including criminal, and civil cases, and provides the only forum in this state for trial by jury.
The Circuit Court Probate Division has jurisdiction over trusts, wills and estates, adoptions, termination of parental rights, guardianships, equity matters, name changes and involuntary commitments.
The Circuit Court District Division has jurisdiction over misdemeanor and violation level criminal offenses, small claims, landlord/tenant matters, stalking cases and civil cases which do not exceed $25,000. In addition, a party may go to a District Division to obtain an emergency order of protection in a domestic violence matter. Some District Divisions also handle juvenile matters and hearings in domestic violence matters; however in counties where the Family Division has been instituted that court would not address those issues. Lastly, the District Divisions handle appeals of gun permit denials, land use violations and replevin. In some matters the jurisdiction of the District Division is concurrent with the Superior Court, meaning that a party could go to either.
The Circuit Court Family Division jurisdiction includes divorce, parenting disputes, child support, domestic violence, guardianship, termination of parental rights, abuse and neglect cases, children in need of supervision, delinquencies, and some adoptions.
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