There are obviously many practical and emotional considerations when dissolving a marriage. However, understanding Hawaii’s judicial process is also necessary.
That may appear intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be, especially when you and your soon-to-be ex can work together. Everything you need to understand to commence the divorce in Hawaii is provided below.
Residency Requirement for Divorce In Hawaii
Hawaii has abolished the restriction that you have to have resided in the state for a specific amount of time before being able to file for divorce in its courts in 2022.
You simply need to be a resident of the island where the family circuit court is located on the day you file for divorce (or at least where you consider it to be your permanent residence).
Legal Grounds for Divorce In Hawaii
Like in every jurisdiction, Hawaii requires a recognized legal ground (or “grounds”) for divorce. The state solely recognizes “no-fault” grounds for divorce, which means you don’t need to blame your partner for any wrongdoing in order to file for divorce.
The no-fault justification that their marriage is “irretrievably broken” is used by the majority of people who are seeking a divorce in Hawaii. That essentially signifies that they aren’t getting together anymore and that there is no chance of them ever going to get back together.
When you file for divorce and state that your marriage is irretrievably shattered, but your spouse disputes that statement, the court will need to schedule a hearing, consider all the pertinent evidence, and make a determination. The judge might defer making a ruling for 30 to 60 days while recommending that you and your husband seek counseling.
If you and your spouse have been apart for at least two years or for the duration of a court-ordered judicial separation, Hawaii also allows you to file for a divorce. In the absence of a court ruling (such as a decree of legal separation or a separate support order), you must demonstrate that there is no prospect that you and your partner will reconcile and that a divorce wouldn’t be unfair to your partner or contrary to the public interest.
How Do I Get a Divorce in Hawaii?
Uncontested and disputed divorces are the two main categories. When the couples reach an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, including property distribution, child custody, and spousal maintenance, the divorce is deemed to be uncontested. Contrarily, in a contentious divorce, the parties are unable to come to an agreement and must approach the court to resolve their differences.
Due to the absence of courtroom conflict, uncontested divorces are usually quicker and less expensive than contentious divorces. The judge only needs to look through and sign off on the marital settlement agreement between the partners before declaring divorce.
Preparing the Initial Divorce Papers
Anyone can get the necessary forms and guidelines from the Hawaii Courts website, which also offers a description of the state’s divorce procedure. According to the island you live on, there are several forms. If the divorce is contested or uncontested, as well as whether you share minor children with your husband, it may also affect the paperwork.
Interactive forms for specific circumstances, including a divorce without children, are available on the court’s website. You will go through a step-by-step online interview, during which the necessary forms will be prepared for you. Have to see if this website has forms specific to your island.
Statewide norms for certain divorce documents include:
- The divorce complaint, in which you outline your goals for the divorce, such as alimony or custody of the children.
- A summons informs the other spouse of the divorce and outlines the proper course of action.
- A matrimonial action information sheet that gives details on the couple’s relationship and marriage.
These are simply a handful of the documents that must be submitted to the court whenever you file for divorce. Much of the necessary paperwork is available on the court’s website, but it is advisable to get in touch with the local circuit court clerk to make sure you have the whole set of forms.
The last thing you want is to go to the clerk’s office only to find that you have used the incorrect forms or are lacking the necessary ones. The necessary forms may be mailed to you by some court clerks.
Filing and Serving the Divorce Papers
When your divorce documents are prepared, you should file them with the family circuit court in your area. You have two options for filing these documents: either in the presence of the court clerk’s office or electronically through Hawaii.
Take note that there are costs associated with filing legal papers with the court. The Family Court filing fees are $215 for divorces without children and $265 for divorces involving minor children as of 2022 (although they have always been susceptible to change), plus a $50 surcharge for the parent education program, which is covered below.
You can ask the court to waive the fees if you are unable to pay them. A Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis is what this is called. You won’t be required to pay any court costs during the divorce if the judge grants your request.
The court official will provide you with a stamped copy for your partner after your paperwork is submitted. The clerk will also give your lawsuit a number, which you must enter on any additional paperwork you submit throughout the divorce process.
The next step is “service of process,” which entails giving your partner a copy of the divorce documents. The quickest way to do this is to give your spouse the paperwork and acquire their signature on an Appearance and Waiver, which you will then file with the court.
If your partner doesn’t sign the waiver, you’ll typically need to make arrangements to provide the divorce papers delivered personally to your husband by a sheriff (or another responsible adult who isn’t engaged in the divorce proceeding).
You may obtain the court’s authorization to mail the divorce papers to your partner via registered or certified mail if your spouse lives outside the court circuit where you petition for divorce (return receipt requested). Ask the court clerk if there are any other ways to serve the documents, such as publishing a notice in the press if you can’t find your spouse or serving them personally.
Next Steps in Your Hawaii Divorce
Pay much attention to the subsequent actions required to advance your case once you have filed and served divorce papers.
Responding to the Divorce Papers
After receiving the divorce papers, your partner typically has 20 days to reply to the petition. Typically, your partner will respond with an “Answer” that either supports or refutes the claims and demands you made in the lawsuit. The court may also be asked to decide on matters like support, custody, visiting rights, and the distribution of marital property in the response.
The magistrate may move forward with the case without providing your spouse any additional notice if your spouse fails to submit an answer by the deadline.
You and your partner must submit either an Asset and Debt Statement or an Income and Expense Statement. You must supply a significant amount of personal information regarding your financial position for these forms.
Since it’s crucial essential you complete this form as accurately as possible, it’s a good idea to acquire as much of this information in advance as you can. You must be completely truthful since a spouse who withholds information about any accounts, debts, or assets may be subject to fines and/or jail time.
Parenting Education Course
All divorced parents in Hawaii are required by court orders to enroll in a class through the Hawaii Kids First program. The goal is to inform and sensitize the parents to the potential needs of the children resulting from the divorce.
Property and debts are divided for both you and your partner during a divorce. Hawaii courts will decide what is “fair and equal,” or fair, to distribute assets and obligations, taking into account the following:
- The parties’ individual merits.
- The parties’ respective capacities and the state each will be left in after the divorce.
- The obligations placed on either party for the benefit of the party’s children.
- Any failure to disclose or hide assets or income.
- Any contravention of a protective order.
- All other case-related conditions.
Mediation as a Divorce Alternative
Not every divorce requires protracted court challenges. When there are outstanding difficulties, mediation may be a less acrimonious and more affordable divorce option than rushing to the courthouse to file for divorce.
Getting divorced partners to have the option of mediating their own disputes with either a private mediator. While a divorce is underway in court, mediation attempts are required by law in some states. “Court-ordered mediation” is what this is.
In general, Hawaii courts support mediation but do not mandate it for divorced couples. However, a judge may decide to mandate mediation in a particular case. On its website, the Hawaii State Judiciary keeps a helpful list of resources for mediators.
A skilled and impartial third party, known as a “mediator,” meets with both spouses during mediation. Each partner will be given a chance to discuss their concerns and offer solutions during the private mediation sessions. A mediator’s role is to facilitate conversations so that the parties can settle their divorce without the need for judicial intervention, not to make these decisions in the matter.
The mediator can create a divorce settlement agreement for you to submit to the court if you and your spouse reach a compromise on all or a portion of the matters during the mediation. You and your spouse’s outstanding disagreements will be resolved by the court.
Mediation is typically considerably less expensive than embarking through with a full divorce trial, and it can help you and your husband lay the groundwork for ongoing communication, even if you can only agree on one or two points.
Finalizing Your Hawaii Divorce
Hawaii does not need a waiting time before you’re able to finalize your divorce, in contrast to certain other states. Therefore, if there is no dispute in your case, you can typically obtain your divorce judgment within a couple of months of filing the initial paperwork.
How long it will ultimately take is primarily determined by the volume of cases in your circuit’s family court. Your uncontested divorce could be finalized more quickly if the judge decides you don’t need to attend court for the hearing.
If your separation is challenged, the process will take longer. Most spouses reach a resolution during the divorce proceedings, frequently with the aid of their attorneys, mediators, or even both. In fact, if mediation might assist you and your husband resolve one or more contentious issues, the magistrate may order you to attend.
However, the procedure can take many months or longer, even if you negotiate a resolution before going to trial. Additionally, the overall process might take approximately a year—or more—if a trial is required to have a court make a ruling regarding any remaining issues.
The procedure of divorce in Hawaii can be complicated and stressful. Therefore it makes more sense to have legal counsel (especially if the other party does). Chat with a local Hawaii divorce lawyer right away to get it begun.
Following a divorce, each partner receives a credit equal to the value of their marital assets. Any increase in value of those assets and any assets accumulated during the marriage are divided equally at first, though the court may take fairness into account.
Although legal separation can last indefinitely, in Hawaii, it is limited to two years. The couple must decide whether to stay together or file for divorce before the end of the second year. However, at any point throughout the separation, any spouse may petition for divorce.
Negotiate amicably with your husband and come to an agreement on all concerns prior to filing for divorce in Hawaii. By doing this, legal difficulties are resolved in advance, making it simpler for the judge to consider your case and make a decision.