In Hawaii, legal separation and divorce are two different processes. A legal separation declares that the spouses are separated and will not be acting as a couple but does not get rid of the marriage. This allows a couple to resume their marriage if they are able to work out their differences without filing to marry again. A divorce dissolves all connection between the two spouses except for any custodial and support agreements made during the marriage. Hawaii is a no-fault divorce state, requiring no wrongdoing by either partner to qualify for divorce, only irreconcilable differences.
There is also no waiting period or cool-down period in Hawaii before divorce papers can be finalized. Counseling is also not required for divorce in Hawaii.
What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?
Hawaii provides the necessary forms to file for a divorce. The correct form depends on which island you live, and then depending on whether there are children involved in the divorce. The forms for a divorce without children are short and easy to fill out. There are forms available for married couples with children but as the situation gets more complex the state recommends couples seek the aid of a lawyer.
There are also forms for an uncontested divorce (with or without children), meaning that neither spouse opposes the divorce. But regardless of a contested divorce or uncontested divorce, a spouse filing for divorce must:
- Fill out and file the necessary forms for their island;
- Submit a summons for the other spouse to answer the divorce filing;
- The other spouse must reply to the filing, either as contested or uncontested;
- Spouses must submit income/expense and asset/debt statements;
- And if children are involved, be prepared to declare requests for custody and/or support.
While a spouse may request divorce on their own, the divorce must be finalized with both spouses except in cases of desertion.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
Hawaii is not a community property state, instead following an “equitable distribution” plan in which the court will attempt to divide the marital property fairly. Upon divorce, everything acquired by the couple during the marriage is considered marital property and is split as fairly as possible. This means if one spouse has acquired more property than the other they may have some of their property taken away from them upon divorce and given to the other spouse.
Some property is kept apart from consideration in divorce and will not be considered in the split. Some examples of this property are:
- Property acquired before the marriage
- Gifts intended for one spouse only
What Should You Do if There are Children Involved?
A court will have to resolve the custody of the children and how much child support will be paid. The court will focus upon the best interest of the child when determining which parent will have custody of any children from the marriage. A Hawaii court will give deference to an agreement between both parents as to who should have custody assuming the court finds it is in the best interest of the child.
Do You Need to Pay Alimony?
Hawaii’s divorce proceedings provide for alimony but it is not required in all cases. Alimony payments are customized by the court to fit the situation presented. Both in amount and how long they will last. Some types of payments will only last as long as the divorce proceedings last.
Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?
Divorce can be a difficult process and a lawyer can help you through it. The process becomes even more complex when children are added in or a significant amount of property is in question. A family lawyer experienced in divorce proceedings can help you get the outcome most favorable to you. Contact a Hawaii divorce lawyer to help you through this process.