If you are considering getting a divorce, separation or annulment in Hawaii, make sure you understand the Hawaii state legal framework that governs such matters. This article contains general information on Hawaii divorce and separation, and should give you a starting point for discussions with a Hawaii divorce attorney.
Hawaii Legal Separation
Hawaii refers to legal separations as "divorces from bed and board." Where the court finds that the marriage has been temporarily disrupted, it may decree a separation from bed and board for up to two years. Parties can divide up property, arrange child visitation and agree on other matters via maintenance agreements approved by the court. A legal separation is not a divorce; neither spouse may remarry. However, you may find that a legal separation works better for you than a divorce. To learn more about the pros and cons of both legal separation and divorce, speak with a Hawaii divorce lawyer.
Hawaii Divorce - GroundsPeople filing for divorce in Hawaii do not have to show that their spouse was at fault in the marriage's breakdown. Hawaii courts can issue divorce decrees by making determinations on whether or not the marriage is "irretrievably broken." Both of the parties must have made sworn statements or complaints stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Alternatively, if one of the parties claims irretrievable breakdown and the other has not denied it, the court has enough basis to state its finding. Another ground for divorce in Hawaii is the parties having lived "separate and apart" under a court-ordered legal separation that has reached its maximum time limit without the parties reconciling. Even if you did not have a legal separation order, the court can grant a divorce if you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of two years or more immediately before filing the application; if there is no reasonable likelihood that cohabitation will be resumed and if the court is satisfied with the particular circumstances of the case.
Hawaii Divorce - Residency & Where to File
In Hawaii, you must file for divorce in the family court of the circuit in which you have been domiciled or physically present for a continuous period of at least three months. Further, courts will not issue a decree of divorce if either party was not physically present in Hawaii for a continuous period of at least six months before the petition was filed.
Hawaii Divorce - Property Division
Hawaii courts have discretion to divide up the couple's property and distribute it to either party accordingly. In making its division and distribution, the court will consider a variety of factors, including the age, education level and job experience of each spouse; which spouse is the primary custodian of any children; the financial contributions each spouse made to the marriage; and so forth. A Hawaii divorce attorney can help you review the factors in your specific case to get a better idea of how property distribution would affect you in a divorce proceeding.
Whereas divorce dissolves a valid marriage, annulment is the court's finding that there was never a legal marriage to begin with. Hawaii courts will make this determination in a few specific cases, including: marriages brought about by duress or fraud; the minor age of one or both parties; a party's concealment of a "loathsome disease" from the other; incestuous blood relationships; or one or both of the parties having another living spouse from whom they are not divorced.
Hawaii Divorce Laws
Below is a selected list of Hawaii Code pertaining to some of the more common issues raised in divorce or separation proceedings.