New Hampshire law categorizes parenting rights and responsibilities into two groups: decision making responsibility and residential responsibility. These are the new terms for what used to be called "legal custody" and "physical custody," and have been called such since October 1, 2005 when the new statue went into effect.

Decision making is defined as the "responsibility to make decisions for the child." Basically, they are the major decisions about how the child will be brought up. The decisions include the choices a parent makes about a child’s education, medical care, religion. Parents may be awarded joint decision making responsibility, so that the parents should agree on the care and upbringing of their child. Alternatively, one parent may be awarded sole decision making responsibility.

Residential responsibility means "a parent’s responsibility to provide a home for the child." The parenting schedule will determine what type of responsibility each parent has, whether sole, primary or shared responsibility. The day to day decision making, including the ability to make emergency medical care decisions, rest with the parent the child is with at that time.