Divorce in Hawaii, like in other states, is based on residency. Divorces are handled on the federal level, so in which county the individuals reside, or if they reside in Hawaii at all, determines the outcome of the divorce.
If a divorce is filed in the wrong court, then the case can be dismissed. Certain requirements are involved before a divorce can be petitioned. At least one of the individuals involved in the marriage is required to have lived in Hawaii for a minimum of six months before a divorce can be filed. Those who are stationed in Hawaii for military purposes are exempt from these requirements and may file for divorce while stationed.
If the individual petitioning for divorce no longer resides in Hawaii, he or she can still file for divorce through the state of Hawaii but must do so in the county where his or her spouse resides. All divorce cases shall be petitioned to the judicial district of residency or where the individuals lived together.
To be able to file form Petition for Dissolution of marriage in Hawaii the Family Court must have jurisdiction over your case. However, this is generally only a concern for those whose spouse has moved out of the state or who will be moving. Requirements for filing for divorce in Hawaii are outlined below:
- In order to be able to apply for a divorce in Hawaii one of the persons must have been living in the state for a period of 12 months or more.
- If the spouse or spouses have been serving in the military and are present in the state they are not prohibited by the above.
Divorce Grounds in Hawaii
Like those of the continental United States, Hawaii has laws on how a divorce can be based. All divorces are to be grounded for specific, lawful reasoning. The Hawaii family court has four categories for how a divorce may be petitioned.
The first of these is that the marriage has been designated as being broken beyond repair. Many times under these circumstances, both spouses will bring the case to court. The second category is where the spouses have not lived in the same home under the jurisdiction of the court. These separation terms will have had to expire and no reconciliation will have been obtained for this category to be effective.
The third category is where the spouses have not lived in the same home for at least two years through a separation decree without a reconciliation as a result. The final category of Hawaii divorce grounds is where the individuals involved have been separated and in different homes for at least two years and the court agrees that no reconciliation is possible. All of these categories lie under Hawaii Statute Title 580 Chapter 41.
Dissolution of marriage is the initial document that the spouse filing for divorce must file with the Hawaiian court when a divorce is requested. The spouse filing for divorce may file under certain conditions and these are outlined below:
- An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
- Living separately after filing a decree of separation
- Living apart for a period of at least 2 years
- Spouses having lived apart for a 2-year period with no hope of the marriage being reconciled. Hawaii Statutes – Title 580 – Chapters: 41
Filing for Divorce
When divorce is filed, many factors will need to be taken into consideration, including child visitations, division of any debts, whether or not there will be child support paid, whether or not there will be spousal support paid, and who will have custody of any children or if there will be a joint custody agreement.
Certain documents will also have to be filled out and can be as many as twenty different kinds. Some of these include a Marital Settlement Agreement sheet, a Matrimonial Action Information sheet, the Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce document, an Appearance and Waiver sheet, and an Income and Expense Statement sheet. These documents will be considered by the court when settling any relevant issues and in dividing the property. The property will not necessarily be divided equally but will be divided fairly, at the court’s discretion.
The courts prefer that property division is agreed upon by the parties involved upon which time a marital settlement agreement will be signed, however if they cannot reach an agreement the property will be awarded by the Family Court within the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
Hawaii is an equitable state and as such all property will be distributed between the spouses fairly. If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement to split the property amicably then the courts will share it out fairly. First, the courts will decide what property is marital. They will then assign a monetary value and this is then the amount that will be split fairly. They will take into account the following:
- The merits of each partner
- The ability of each spouse
- The condition the spouse will be left in after the divorce
- The burdens imposed on each party as the result of any children
- Any other circumstances which are deemed important to the case
The Hawaiian court will take into account all factors, which are relevant when deciding on child custody issues. These will include the following:
- Giving parents, grandparents, siblings, and any other person with interest in the child, which is meaningful, access to the child.
- The safety and well-being of the child
- Any history of violence in the family
- Should the parent be absent or have relocated due to violence in the family this will not deter from them being eligible for custody
Either of the parents may have to pay child support and the court will consider factors when deciding this. Here are some of the considerations they will take into account:
- Earnings, income, and the resources of each spouse
- The potential for earning of each spouse
- Necessities and capacity to borrow of each spouse
- The child’s needs
- The amount of public aid the child may receive if they did not have child support
- Any other dependents in the family
- The incentives for both the parents to work
- Balancing the standard of living so the spouses are not at the poverty level
- The avoidance of extreme changes in the parent’s incomes
- Should a parent that is able to work and is not working and the child is school age a presumed income of 30 hours will be added onto the income of that parent
The above are official guidelines set out under the [Hawaii Revised Statutes; Title 576D, Chapter 7 and Title 580, Chapter 47