Our Practice Areas

Our Featured Services

The law firm of Winer and Bennett, LLP has been proudly serving Greater Nashua and Massachusetts for 60 years and counting. Winer and Bennett offers its clients legal services in a wide spectrum of practice areas, and it would be our pleasure to assist you with your legal needs.

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Family Law and Divorce

The Nashua family & divorce lawyers at Winer & Bennett, LLP: Our family attorneys have years of experience in all matters of family law, including divorce, child custody, mediation, child support, and more. Family law attorneys Kent Barker, Peter Webb and Brenner Webb have achieved successful resolutions for countless cases dealing with family matters. With over 65 years of combined litigation experience, the lawyers of Winer & Bennett combine knowledge of your legal options with the sensitivity necessary when dealing with family legal matters.

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Family law is a particularly dynamic and demanding area of the practice of law. The dissolution of marriage, and the associated issues, often involve a wide range of financial, legal, and emotional questions. Winer & Bennett family law attorneys have decades of experience in navigating those rough waters for their clients. Reasonable effort is always made to minimize the costs, delay, and acrimony through voluntary settlement. However, when that is not an option, the seasoned trial skills of Winer & Bennett family lawyers are put to work to protect and advance the clients interests before the Court.

Different Areas of Family Law and Divorce

Alimony in New Hampshire

New Hampshire law permits a Judge to make an alimony award in a divorce or legal separation. The law is RSA 458:19. The Legislature has tinkered with the law of the years, but for more than 20 years the basic concept has remained the same: if one spouse earns enough income to meet personal reasonable needs, and the other spouse doesn’t, the first spouse can be ordered to pay alimony to the second spouse. The likelihood of alimony is greater in a long term marriage. The challenge in cases where there is a probable alimony award is the amount and for how long. Alimony can be awarded in a certain amount for a certain amount of time, or permanently (which is uncommon). It can be a decreasing amount over a defined period. It can be a single payment. It is be up to the Judge to decide what is fair and appropriate under the particular facts of each case.

Unlike child support, there is no formula to calculate the amount or duration of alimony. As the law sets out, many factors have to be weighed, including: length of marriage, income-earning capacity, accustomed standard of living, ability to become financial independent, age, health, assets, reasonable needs, child care responsibilities. Because there are so many variables involved in the decision, it is difficult to predict an alimony award. As a result, the issue of alimony often compels a case to go to trial, sometimes for a decision on that sole remaining issue.

Just as with child support, a Judge has the discretion to later change an existing alimony award if a substantial change in the financial circumstances of the parties occurs. Such a change would include the paying or receiving ex-spouse’s income involuntarily becoming less, or the recipient ex-spouse’s financial picture significantly improving. The law would tend to disfavor having an ex-spouse reaping the benefit of the future prosperity of an ex-spouse, if reasonable needs had been met under the original alimony award. Also, a Judge has the power to grant a request for alimony for up to 5 years after the original divorce.

The Nashua family lawyers at Winer and Bennett have years of experience negotiating, mediating and advocating on the issue of alimony for clients going through the divorce and legal separation process. If you want legal counsel on the difficult issue of alimony, feel free to call (603) 882-5157 to set up an appointment.

Custody/Parental Responsibility

A parent’s relationship with one’s child is probably the most precious interest ever at issue in any court. Unfortunately, when parents separate, a new family life for the children has to be devised. It is a painful process for children and parents. What’s best for the children is for their parents to minimize the trauma for them. Keep the children out of the line-of-fire. Don’t use or try to influence them. Don’t permit them to be witness to hateful anger directed at their mother or father by their mother or father. Those experiences will have a lasting impact on a child. The goal is for parents to get through the difficult process, re-allocate the parenting time as best as feasible, and , most importantly, restore a loving environment for the child.

The best parenting arrangement is one which the parents agree upon. However, there frequently are times when that is not possible. In such cases, New Hampshire law ( RSA 461-A:6) gives the court the difficult job of deciding what parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interest. The facts which the court is to consider are common-sense, but the primary considerations are set out in the statute. One of them is “the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance.”

The parenting issue used to be called “custody,” but our law changed it to “parental responsibility,” a label which puts the focus on the child’s right be cared for, rather the parent’s right of possession. Under our law parental responsibility is in two forms: decision-making responsibility – parental authority in general, and residential responsibility – the physical presence of the child. The court must decide each issue. The parenting arrangement is formalized in a document called a Parenting Plan. Google “New Hampshire Family Court parenting plan” for a sample of that form.

If you have a parenting dispute, whether in married or unmarried context, you would be wise to have experienced legal counsel who knows the law, but who also has the judgment to recognize and understand the real-world considerations which make all the difference in such a dispute. Such family attorneys are available to you at Winer and Bennett, LLP., www.Winerbennett.com, (603) 673-3828.

Child Support in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, child support is based on a formula prescribed by law, RSA 458-C. The calculation uses the average gross monthly income of each parent, with deductions for the cost of health insurance for the children, child care expenses up to a maximum cap, and state income taxes. Reference is then made to a table issued by the state. Google “New Hampshire Judicial Branch Family Division child support” for the required forms and table. The parent who doesn’t have primary residential responsibility generally pays the amount dictated by that calculation. Circumstances can permit an adjustment in the calculation (RSA 458-C:5). If one party has significantly lower income than the other, a reduced child support obligation usually is ordered even with equal parenting time.

The Child Support Table is predicated on a sliding scale depending on the combined incomes of the parties and the number of children. The amount an obligated parent can typically be expected to pay is roughly their proportionate share (based on their fraction of the combined income) of the following percentages of the combined net incomes of the parents: 25% to 19 % for 1child, 35% to 26% for 2, 42% to 31% for 3, and 45% to 33% for 4. A deviation from the standard calculation requires explanation to and approval by the Court. Ordinarily child support is paid until a child is 18 and has graduated from high school.

Child support in New Hampshire can be complicated by issues such as: the treatment of overtime pay, bonuses, non-wage income, unusual parenting schedules, transportation expenses, the child’s medical needs. You’ll want an experienced lawyer who can help make sure you are paying or receiving the proper amount following your divorce or legal separation. For experienced legal services regarding child support, contact the family law attorneys at Winer & Bennett, LLP. Schedule your consultation today by calling 603-882-5157.

Divorce & Legal Separation

A divorce is ideally a civilized and business-like process. It is, after all, essentially the dissolution of an economic partnership. The reality, however, is that the process is more often combative, painful, tedious, complicated and risky – more akin to a battle to come out as well as possible from a heart-breaking disaster. In no other litigation are there more precious interests at stake.

For decades, the Nashua divorce lawyers at Winer & Bennett have represented clients going through the divorce process. While fair and efficient problem-solving is always the preferred course, these are lawyers who have the capacity, skills and experience to fight successfully for the best interest of their client, when the situation requires.

Legal Separation

Some clients whose marriages have failed do not want to divorce for financial, religious or other reasons. In New Hampshire, a client has the option of a legal separation. A legal separation is everything that a divorce is – division of property and debts, an award of the parties’ parental rights, child support, alimony, but the parties remain married. Our lawyers represent clients who prefer legal separation.

Domestic Violence

RSA 173-B is New Hampshire’s domestic violence law. Under that law, an abused family or household member can quickly obtain protective orders from a court. For such orders, the victim must provide evidence in a written petition to the court of abusive conduct such as physical assault, verbal threat, destruction of property, or harassment. If the court concludes that conduct has occurred and represents a credible safety threat, the court will issue restraining orders to protect the victim. The court has discretion in fashioning the order, but it can include prohibiting the abuser from entering the victim’s residence or place of employment, from contacting the victim or family members, or from taking personal property, having the children, or possessing a weapon. The protective orders themselves are only as effective as they are obeyed, but the police are required to immediately arrest anyone who violates a protective order. Such orders are initially issued by the court on the representations of only one party, but, upon request, a follow up hearing is quickly scheduled to enable both parties to be heard.

This important law is crucial to providing protection from domestic violence, but it can also be misused as a tool to get an advantage in a family dispute. While a court will tend to err on the side of caution, it will also usually carefully consider whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the alleged conduct occurred and that it constitutes the required “credible threat to safety” necessary under law for a domestic violence restraining order.

The domestic violence attorneys at Winer & Bennett, LLP provide legal services to clients throughout Nashua and the surrounding cities and towns. We can help you get and keep a restraining order necessary to protect you, and we can defend you against baseless allegations being made to force you out of your own home.

If you want to be represented by an experienced attorney who knows New Hampshire’s domestic violence laws and how they are implemented as a practical matter in the courtroom, call the Nashua family law lawyers at Winer and Bennet, LLP, at 603-882-5157.

Mediation

Mediation is a process in which New Hampshire Courts now require divorcing parties to participate. Mediation is not binding. It is a meeting of the parties and counsel at which the parties discuss their case and their positions in the presence of a neutral third party. In the course of that discussion, the Mediator tries to help the parties find common ground for settling the matter by mutual agreement. The Mediator doesn’t decide the case. His or her goal is to get the parties to reach an agreement. If an agreement (partial or total) can be arrived at, the parties are able to minimize or eliminate the need for a Judge to decide the terms of their divorce. Doing so the parties can avoid significant financial costs and time delays associated with litigation. More importantly, the parties get to make decisions of their own instead of having a Judge make the decision for them. In the right cases, this process can be extremely effective.

It is essential to have an experienced lawyer representing you during the mediation process. Without a working knowledge of the law, parties will have no way to determine whether or not an agreement is fair. Every divorce presents a unique set of facts and circumstances that can drastically change the expected outcome in the case. The family law attorneys at Winer and Bennett will competently and effectively guide you through the mediation process.

Winer & Bennett, LLP has experienced family lawyers ready to provide you with representation mediation you need. Call our office at (603) 882-5157 to schedule a consultation.

Property Division in a Divorce

RSA 458:16-a is the New Hampshire statute which sets out the principles which a Judge is to consider when deciding how to divide the property between the parties in a divorce. The statute is long, but the basic concept is that an equal division of the value of the marital assets is ordinarily to be considered fair, but there are factors which can justify an unequal property distribution.

The first task in dividing up the marriage’s property is to get a full and complete inventory of the property. The marital property is anything and everything in which one or both of the parties has any interest: that means real estate, personal property, retirement accounts, vested inheritances, debts, businesses, anything of present value (and some things of contingent value). The law obligates each party to provide a complete and truthful financial disclosure under oath.

The factors which can support an unequal property distribution are many, but include: the length of the marriage, the ability of each party to earn an income (age, health, occupation, skills, needs), future opportunity to acquire financial resources, the childcare responsibilities, actions by a party to increase or decrease the assets, contributions to the marriage or to the other’s career, inherited property. Adultery, extreme cruelty, or acting to injure health or endanger reason can be a consideration, if it caused the breakdown of the marriage and substantial emotional pain or economic loss.

There are, therefore, many potentially relevant factual issues in a contested property distribution. In practice, however, some are more persuasive than others. Experienced counsel knows how to best present the facts, what tends to work, what tends to not work, and potential outcome. At the Nashua law firm of Winer and Bennett, LLP, you will have the services of legal counsel who knows the reality of this process, something essential whether your case is concluded by settlement or has to be presented to a Judge for resolution.

Parent Relocation

Where children are going to reside after their parents break up in New Hampshire is either agreed to by the parents or is ordered by the Court. That allocation of parental responsibility between the parents is set out in both instances in a Parenting Plan. If a parent later chooses or needs to move, New Hampshire law, RSA 461-A:12, requires that the parent wishing to move give the other parent at least 60 days advance notice. The parent who is not moving has the right to petition the Court to deny the proposed relocation. In a relocation hearing the Court will decide if the evidence presented establishes that the proposed move is for a legitimate purpose and is reasonable, and, if so, whether the relocation is contrary to the best interest of the child. The law requires the Court to deny the requested relocation on any one of those three grounds.

Few things in life are more important to you than protecting your relationship with your child. Successfully doing so, however, takes much more than an emotional response. There is a formal and prescribed legal process which needs to be followed in order for you to be granted the right to move with your child, or, in order to prevent your child from moving away from you. That court process requires skills and experience.

If you are facing a relocation dispute, get the legal services you will need and call one of the family law attorneys at Winer & Bennett, LLP, at 603-882-5157.