Hawaii Divorce Law Summary

Divorce – State Law Summary – Hawaii

Notes: This summary is not intended to be an all-inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in the State of Hawaii, but does contain basic and other procedures.

Grounds for divorce
A divorce may be granted in the State of Hawaii upon a showing that one or more of the following grounds exist:

1. The marriage is irretrievably broken;

2. The parties have lived separate and apart under a decree of separation from bed and board, the term of separation has expired, and no reconciliation has been effected;

3. The parties have lived separate and apart for a period of two or more years under a decree of separate maintenance and no reconciliation has been effected;

4. The parties have lived separate and apart for two or more continuous years immediately prior to filing of the action without reasonable likelihood of reconciliation, and it would not be harsh or oppressive to the defendant or against public policy to grant the plaintiff a divorce. 580-41

Residency requirements
Hawaii requires that at least one of the parties to the action for divorce must have resided within the State of Hawaii for six months immediately prior to the filing of the action. The action is filed in the court of the circuit where the party has resided for at least three months prior to the commencement of the action. 580-1

Name of court and title of action/parties
An action for divorce in the State of Hawaii is filed in the Family Court. The title of the action initiating the divorce is a Complaint for Divorce, while the title of the action granting the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Divorce. The party who files the action for divorce is the Plaintiff, while the other party to the action is referred to as the Defendant. 580-1

Simplified divorce proceeding
In a divorce action where there are no contested issues and the parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may issue a divorce based upon the affidavits of the parties without requiring a hearing on the matter. 580-42

Legal separation
The court may issue a decree of separation from bed and board not to exceed two years if it finds that the marriage is temporarily disrupted. 580-71

Conciliation/mediation
If one of the parties denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may continue the matter from thirty to sixty days and suggest to the parties that they seek counseling. 580-42

Alimony
Either party may be ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse as the court deems equitable and just. The alimony order may be for a fixed period of time or for an indefinite amount of time. Factors the court will consider in ordering alimony include:

1. The financial resources of the parties;

2. The ability of the party seeking support to meet his needs independently;

3. The duration of the marriage;

4. The standard of living established during the marriage;

5. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;

6. The usual occupation of the parties during the marriage;

7. The vocational skills and employability of the party seeking support;

8. The needs of the parties;

9. Custodial and child support responsibilities;

10. The ability of the party paying support to meet his needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking support;

11. Any other factor the court deems equitable and just. 580-47

Distribution of property
Upon granting a divorce, the court will divide the estate of the parties, real personal or mixed, whether community, joint or separate as it deems just and equitable after consideration of the following factors:

1. The respective merits of the parties;

2. The relative abilities of the parties;

3. The condition in which each party will be left by the divorce;

4. The burdens imposed upon either party for the benefit of any children of the marriage, and;

5. All other circumstances of the case. 580-47

Child Custody
The court may award custody of any children of the marriage to either party, based upon the best interests of the child. Factors the court will consider in awarding custody include;

1. The wishes of the child;

2. Any reports ordered by the court prepared by investigators or other professionals;

3. The relevant testimony of anyone with insight as to the child’s best interests. 571-46

Child support
Either or both of the parties may be ordered to pay child support as the court deems just and equitable after consideration of the following factors:

1. The respective merits of the parties;

2. The relative abilities of the parties;

3. The condition in which each party will be left by the divorce;

4. The burdens imposed upon either party for the benefit of any children of the marriage, and;

5. All other circumstances of the case.

Hawaii has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptive correct amount of child support to be paid. In determining the amount of child support to be paid, the court may also consider:

1. All earnings, income and resources of both parents;

2. The earning potential, reasonable necessities, and borrowing capacity of each parent;

3. The needs of the child;

4. The amount of public assistance which would be paid under the full standard of need established by the department;

5. The existence of other dependents of the obligor parent;

6. Incentives to encourage both parents to work;

7. The balance of the standard of living of each parent, and;

8. Extreme and inequitable changes in either parent’s income due to custody arrangements. 576D-7

Name change
Upon request, the court may include in the decree that a party may resume use of a former or maiden name. 574-5


Inside Hawaii Divorce Law Summary