Courts in New Hampshire
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Courts in New Hampshire consist of the New Hampshire state court system and one federal court.
The superior courts are the courts of general jurisdiction and the only courts that hold jury trials in civil and criminal cases. All cases are appealed directly to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
On July 1, 2011, New Hampshire's lower courts were combined into 10 circuit courts, with at least one location in each New Hampshire county. The courts were created under HB 609, which was signed into law by Governor John Lynch on May 16, 2011. Ninety percent of the cases filed in New Hampshire will be heard in these courts. Each circuit court has three divisions, district, probate and family. Some courts may have multiple locations depending on the size of the county.
- Formerly called probate courts, the probate division of the circuit courts has jurisdiction over the following matters: wills, trusts and estates, guardianships and involuntary commitment proceedings, adoptions, name changes and the partition of real estate. In the consolidation in July 2011, the number of probate courts was reduced from 117 to 54, with divisions in just 10 counties now.
- Formerly called the district courts, the district division of the circuit courts handles misdemeanor and violation offenses (including motor vehicle violations), small claims, landlord-tenant matters, stalking cases and other civil cases. There are 32 circuit courts with district divisions throughout New Hampshire.
- Formerly called family courts, the family division of the circuit courts has jurisdiction over matters involving divorce and parenting, child support, domestic violence petitions, guardianship of minors, termination of parental rights, abuse and neglect cases, matters regarding children who need state services, juvenile delinquency and some adoption matters. There are 28 family divisions in the state, located in the following counties:
The federal court in New Hampshire is the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. It is part of the First Circuit.
- Judicial selection in New Hampshire
- News: New Hampshire court system receives overhaul, July 6, 2011
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch website
- New Hamshire Judicial Branch, "Find your New Hampshire court"
- New Hampshire gets 'F' for judiciary disclosures, December 4, 2013
- Another view: Courts needed major makeover, December 5, 2011
- State of New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court," accessed December 19, 2013
- New Haven Register, "Probate court changes in 2011 will mean longer drives for some," November 30, 2009
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court Probate Division," accessed December 19, 2013
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court District Division," accessed December 19, 2013
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court Family Division," accessed December 19, 2013