For many people divorce is a grim reality. Regardless of the details in your case, you will have to make several important decisions about finances and other matters. Learning about the basics of divorce in Hawaii can help you enter the divorce process with a cool head. Before you start, make sure you meet the residency requirements which stat you have to have lived in Hawaii for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
Hawaii only permits no-fault divorce, which means parties can file claiming one of two things:
- Separation for at least two years
- The marriag is "irretrievably broken"
In Hawaii, only one spouse needs to claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken in order to be granted a divorce.
How to File
The filing spouse must submit a complaint for divorce and a final decree to the local family court, in addition to any other documents that a specific island may require. The forms can be found on your local island's website. Forms that you may need to file include:
- Matrimonial Action (information) Sheet
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Income and Expense Statement
- Appearance and Waiver Document
If both parties agree to the terms of the divorce, it's possible that a judge will approve the divorce without you or your spouse having to appear in court. However, if one party disagrees with the terms in the divorce, the courts will have a hearing.
- The parties' abilities and current assets
- How the divorce will affect each side
- Whether either side must pay for children's needs
- Whether either party failed to disclose or deliberately concealed assets
- Whether one party violated a restraining order
In Hawaii, alimony, which is more commonly referred to as "spousal support," is awarded on a case-by-case basis. Hawaii courts have broad discretion to determine which cases merit support awards. Hawaiian law requires that courts consider a number of factors when deciding whether to give one spouse support, including:
- Financial resources of the spouses
- Whether or not the party who is seeking support can meet her needs independently
- How long the marriage lasted
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed while married
- Both spouse's age, physical and emotional condition at the time of the divorce
- Both spouse's careers during the marriage
- The skills and employability of the spouse seeking support
- Whether or not the paying spouse would be able to meet his needs in addition to an alimony amount
- Any custodial or child support responsibilities
- Duration of the support needed by the requesting spouse
If the courts decide that alimony is appropriate, they will consider the above factors again to determine how much alimony and how long the alimony should last.
Child Custody and Support
The family court in a Hawaii divorce awards custody of children to either or both parents according to the best interest of the children. In most cases, courts work with parents to create a shared visitation plan that suits everyone's needs. If the parties can't agree, however, the court is the ultimate deciding authority.
In Hawaii, both parents have a duty to provide financial support for their children. In most cases, however, the non-residential (non-household) parent must pay child support to the residential parent. Hawaii uses child support guidelines to calculate how much support the non-residential parent must pay. This forumula is based on a number of factors, including the parents' incomes, the number of children, and the needs of the children.
The best way to get through a divorce is to gather as much information as possible. Hawaii courts offer a public seminar to help people navigate the divorce laws in their state. There are also versions that you can check out at the Supreme Court Library.