Parties in New Hampshire are free to negotiate the terms of their divorce, including how they wish to divide martial property. However, that agreement, standing alone, is unenforceable unless approved by the court. In the case of Estate of Mortner v. Thompson, the New Hampshire Supreme Court was presented with a situation where the husband and wife had negotiated a property settlement during their divorce case but the husband died before a divorce decree was entered. The Estate argued that the settlement agreement could be enforced as an independent contract between the parties. The Supreme Court disagreed holding that unless the agreement was approved by the Family Division, it is not enforceable against the wife. New Hampshire law differs from other jurisdictions which allow separation agreements to survive as an independent contracts.
Andrew J. Piela is a Director at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. Mr. Piela concentrates his practice in civil litigation, family law, probate and land use litigation. You can reach Attorney Piela by e-mail at [email protected].