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Hawaii Divorce Laws

The state of Hawaii has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.

We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce.

Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Hawaii, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:

No absolute divorce from the bond of matrimony shall be granted for any cause unless either party to the marriage has been domiciled or has been physically present in the state for a continuous period of at least six months prior to filing for the divorce.

A person who may be residing on any military or federal base, installation, or reservation within the state or who may be present in the state under military orders shall not thereby be prohibited the above mentioned requirements.

The divorce should be filed in the judicial district the plaintiff resides or the judicial district the spouses last lived together as a married couple. (Hawaii Statutes - Title 580 - Chapters: 1)

No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Hawaii the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:

(1) The marriage is irretrievably broken;

(2) The parties have lived separate and apart under a decree of separation from bed and board entered by any court of competent jurisdiction, the term of separation has expired, and no reconciliation has been effected;

(3) The parties have lived separate and apart for a period of two years or more under a decree of separate maintenance entered by any court of competent jurisdiction, and no reconciliation has been effected; or

(4) The parties have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of two years or more immediately preceding the application, there is no reasonable likelihood that cohabitation will be resumed, and the court is satisfied that, in the particular circumstances of the case, it would not be harsh and oppressive to the defendant or contrary to the public interest to a divorce on this ground on the complaint of the plaintiff. (Hawaii Statutes - Title 580 - Chapters: 41)

Filing Party Name: The Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Complaint for Divorce with the county court.

Non-Filing Party Name: The Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.

Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: Family Court. All divorce cases in the state of Hawaii are facilitated through this court for that particular county.

Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Hawaii clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Family Court.

Property and Debt Division: Hawaii is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.

If the parties can not otherwise agree, the court shall take into consideration when making a property award the following: the respective merits of the parties, the relative abilities of the parties, the condition in which each party will be left by the divorce, the burdens imposed upon either party for the benefit of the children of the parties, and all other circumstances of the case. (Hawaii Statutes - Title 580 - Chapters: 47)

Changing Name: When in a divorce proceeding either party to the proceeding requests to resume the middle name or names and the last name used by the party prior to the marriage or a middle name or names and last name declared and used during any prior marriage and the court includes the change of names in the divorce decree. (Hawaii Statutes - Title 574 - Chapters: 5)

Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.

In addition to any other relevant factors considered, the court, in ordering spousal support and maintenance, shall consider the following factors: (A) Financial resources of the parties; (B) Ability of the party seeking support and maintenance to meet his or her needs independently; (C) Length of the marriage; (D) Standard of living established during the marriage; (E) Age of the parties; (F) Physical and emotional condition of the parties; (G) Usual occupation of the parties during the marriage; (H) Vocational skills and employability of the party seeking support and maintenance; (I) Needs of the parties; (J) Custodial and child support responsibilities; (K) Ability of the party from whom support and maintenance is sought to meet his or her own needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking support and maintenance; (L) Other factors which measure the financial condition in which the parties will be left as the result of the action under which the determination of maintenance is made; and (M) Probable duration of the need of the party seeking support and maintenance.

The court may order support and maintenance to a party for an indefinite or temporary period. (Hawaii Statutes - Title 580 - Chapters: 47)

Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Hawaii courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.

Custody should be awarded to either parent or to both parents according to the best interests of the child, and the court may also consider frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact of each parent with the child unless the court finds that a parent is unable to act in the best interest of the child.

Reasonable visitation rights shall be awarded to parents, grandparents, siblings, and any person interested in the welfare of the child in the discretion of the court, unless it is shown that rights of visitation are detrimental to the best interests of the child.

When domestic violence is an issue, the court will consider the following: (1) The primary factor the safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of family violence; (2) The perpetrator's history of causing physical harm, bodily injury, or assault or causing reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault to another person; and (3) If a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of family violence by the other parent, the absence or relocation shall not be a factor that weighs against the parent in determining custody or visitation. (Hawaii Statutes - Title 580 - Chapters: 46)

Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Hawaii child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.

In establishing the amounts of child support, the court shall use the state child support guidelines. Provision may be made for the support, maintenance, and education of an adult or minor child and for the support, maintenance, and education of an incompetent adult child whether or not the petition is made before or after the child has attained the age of majority.

In addition to any other relevant factors considered, the court, in ordering spousal support and maintenance, shall consider the following factors: (a) Financial resources of the parties; (b) Ability of the party seeking support and maintenance to meet his or her needs independently; (c) Duration of the marriage; (d) Standard of living during the marriage; (e)Age of the parents; (f) Physical and emotional condition of the parties; (g) Usual occupation of the parties during the marriage; (h) Vocational skills and employability of the party seeking support and maintenance; (i) Other factors which measure the financial condition in which the parties. (Hawaii Statutes - Title 580 - Chapters: 47)

Copyright Notice: These Hawaii divorce laws above are copyrighted by 3 Step Solutions, LLC. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.

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