How to File Divorce in Hawaii

File a divorce in Hawaii

Hawaii (which most locals spell as Hawai’i) is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and a popular honeymoon destination. If your marriage has not worked out as you hoped and you are thinking about filing for divorce in Hawaii, here is what you need to know.

1. Use the family court

Hawaii is one of several states that has created special family courts to provide fair and speedy resolution to cases involving children and families.  

Divorce and child support are some of the court’s most important issues to deal with.

That means the judges should be experts in divorce issues that can help you solve your dispute relatively quickly.

2. One of you needs to be here

Divorce will only be granted if at least one spouse has been domiciled (living here with an intent to remain indefinitely) or physically present in the state for at least six months.

3. Grounds for divorce

No-fault ground for divorce

Hawaii only recognizes no-fault grounds for divorce.

A divorce can be granted if a court finds the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” and that will be the ground for divorce cited in most cases. That essentially means that neither spouse did anything legally wrong. The couple just wants to each go their separate ways.

Divorces can also be granted after a long separation period, as much as two years or more, but there is little advantage to doing that for most people.

4. Issues resolved alongside divorce

Hawaii law says that a court granting a divorce may also if good cause exists, take some additional steps.  This is different than many states that require additional issues to be resolved before a divorce can be granted.  

The additional items a Hawaiian judge can address during a divorce are child support, spousal support, dividing the assets of the couple, and allocating the debts of the couple.  As part of that process, the judge can order one spouse to pay all the legal fees for the couple.

5. Basics of the process

Few basics of filing a divorce

The official divorce process begins with the filing of a complaint, and that complaint has to be delivered to the other spouse.  The other spouse then has to respond.

Eventually, a judge must hold a “full hearing” before issuing a divorce decree.  In an uncontested divorce, the hearing can be waived, though. The courts in the state have all developed their own forms to help couples resolve disputes themselves if possible. The pleadings must contain basic information like the income, expenses, assets, and debts of the spouses.  

In uncontested cases, parties can submit agreements to the courts to approve.

Most divorces will be settled relatively amicably. One way or another, the two spouses will find a way to get to an agreement.  They may use a process called mediation, where a neutral third party will attempt to get the two spouses to come to an agreement.  

The spouses may also use the court’s discovery process in order to gather information from each other to move their negotiations forward. There is also a simple reality that many divorcing couples have few assets to fight over, so it does not make sense to drag out the process.  

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