How to file for divorce in Hawaii is important to be discussed when your marriage is on the verge of ending. It raises a slew of emotional and practical concerns, and it also necessitates navigating Hawaii’s legal system. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive, especially if you and your soon-to-be-ex can work together.
Read this complete guide to get started with a divorce in Hawaii.
How to File for Divorce in Hawaii
Like in all states, you must have a legally accepted reason (or “grounds”) for divorce in Hawaii. The state only recognises “no-fault” divorce grounds, which means you don’t have to accuse your spouse of any wrongdoing to obtain a divorce.
According to divorce laws in Hawaii, the majority of couples who file for divorce in Hawaii do so on the no-fault grounds i.e. their marriage is “irretrievably broken.” That basically means they no longer get along and have no realistic chance of reconciling.
If you file for divorce claiming that your marriage is irreparably broken but your spouse denies it, a judge will have to hold a hearing, weigh all the relevant facts, and decide whether your marriage is irreparably broken. The judge may postpone a decision for 30-60 days and recommend that you and your spouse seek counselling in the meantime.
If you and your husband have been apart for at least two years or for the period of a valid separation decree, you can petition for divorce in Hawaii. Suppose your divorce was not governed by a court decree (such as a separate maintenance order or a legal separation order). In that case, you’ll have to demonstrate that there’s no reasonable chance you and your spouse will reconcile and that a divorce would not be unfair to your spouse or against the public interest.
In the following section, we will talk about the process to get a divorce in Hawaii in accordance with Hawaii divorce laws:
Start With the Divorce Forms
The Hawaii Courts website provides an outline of the divorce process, as well as instructions and downloadable forms. There are different forms depending on which island you live on. There are different forms of contested or uncontested divorces, and also in the case of minor children.
Situations such as a divorce without kids have interactive forms on the court’s website. The procedure involves you going through a step-by-step online interview that will prepare the necessary forms for you. Check to see if this resource contains forms for your island.
The divorce complaint, in which you tell the court what you want in the divorce such as alimony or child custody is part of this. As well as a summons, which notifies the other spouse of the divorce and instructs them on how to respond, and a matrimonial action information sheet, which contains details about the spouses and the marriage.
These are the forms required by the court when filing for divorce. Even though the court’s website contains many of the necessary documents, it is a good idea to check with your circuit court clerk to ensure that you have the complete set of forms.
After filing documents, the court clerk will provide you with a stamped copy for your spouse. A case number will also be assigned to your case, which you will include on any additional documents you must file during the divorce.
Professional Divorce Assistance
If you have an agreement known as settlement agreement and a simple case, you should be able to file for divorce on your own. A do-it-yourself (DIY) divorce will be the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to end your marriage. However, it will still take some time and attention to detail to ensure that you have all of the necessary forms correctly, and that you have followed the process and requirements for divorce in Hawaii.
Other than hiring an attorney to represent you, there are other options for getting assistance with the process. You could, for example, do one or more of the following:
- If you want the benefits of an uncontested divorce but are having difficulty reaching an agreement with your partner, divorce mediation may help in reaching an agreement.
- Filing for divorce in Hawaii can be done online by using a service that will send you completed forms and walk you through the process. However, most online divorce services require that you have an uncontested divorce.
- Even if you opt for a do-it-yourself or online divorce, you should consult with a lawyer if you have questions or want an independent legal review of your settlement agreement.
If you don’t reach an agreement, you’ll have to go through a traditional contested divorce. Furthermore, you will need to hire a lawyer to handle the forms, filing, and all other legal proceedings during the divorce. As a result, the information provided below is primarily concerned with the filing process when handling your own divorce.
Hawaii eliminated any requirement that you have lived in the state for a certain period of time before filing for divorce in its courts as of 2022. Instead, you must simply be living in what you consider to be your permanent home on the island that is in the family circuit court where you file the divorce papers on the day you begin the divorce process.
Divorce Papers Filing and Service
Divorce papers are required to be filled with the local family circuit court once they are complete.
You can do this in person at the court clerk’s office or electronically through Hawaii’s filing system.
Be aware that the court will charge you a fee for filing legal documents. The Family Court filing fees in 2022 (always subject to change) are $215 for divorces without kids and $265 for divorces with children involved (plus the $50 parent education class extra).
If you are unable to pay the fees, you may ask the court to waive them which is called “Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.” If the court grants your request, you will not be required to pay any court fees during the divorce.
You will then be required to serve your spouse with a copy of the divorce paperwork, named “service of process.” The expeditious way to do this is to give the divorce form to your partner and have them sign an Appearance and Waiver, which you will then file with the court.
If your spouse does not sign the waiver, you’ll usually have to arrange for the divorce papers to be hand-delivered to your spouse by a sheriff (or any adult who isn’t involved in the divorce case). If your spouse lives outside of the court circuit where you file for divorce, you may request that the documents be mailed to your spouse via registered or certified mail (return receipt requested).
If you haven’t been able to serve the documents directly to your spouse, inquire with the court clerk about alternative methods of service, such as publishing a notice in the newspaper.
Response to Divorce Papers
After being served or notified with the form, your partner will typically have 20 days to respond to the complaint. Your defendant will usually respond with an “Answer” that agrees or disagrees with what you’ve stated and requested in the complaint. The response may also request that the court address issues such as child support, custody and visitation, and marital property division.
If your spouse fails to file an answer on time, the judge may proceed with the case without further notice to your spouse.
Filing Financial Statements
Both you and your spouse must file an Income and Expense Statement as well as an Asset and Debt Statement. These documents require you to provide a large amount of financial information about your financial situation.
It’s efficient to gather the required information ahead of time because it’s critical that you fill out this form completely. You must be completely truthful, because a spouse who fails to disclose all accounts, debts, or assets may face penalties such as fines and possible jail time.
Finalizing Your Divorce in Hawaii
Unlike some other states, Hawaii does not require a waiting period before finalizing your divorce. So if your case is uncontested, you should be able to obtain your divorce judgement within a month or two of filing the initial paperwork.
The length of time it will take is largely determined by the caseload of the family court in your circuit. The judge may waive the need for you to appear at a hearing to finalise your uncontested divorce, which may expedite the process.
If your divorce is contested, it will take longer to finalise. The vast majority of divorced couples settle their differences at some point during the process, usually with their attorneys, mediators, or both may be of benefit.
In fact, if conciliation may help you and your husband achieve an agreement on one or more contested matters, the court may compel you and your partner to partake in the same. Even if you reach an agreement before going to trial, the process can take months or even years. And, if a trial is required to have the court rule on any issue which is not resolved, the entire process could take at least a year or more.
Before you start the divorce process, check out this answer to a commonly-asked question about this topic.
– How Long Does It Take To File for Divorce in Hawaii?
It takes six to ten weeks for a divorce to be finalized if you are able to file for an uncontested divorce in Hawaii. The entire process will be much easier, faster, and less expensive than a traditional contested divorce. However, in order for your divorce to be truly uncontested, you and your spouse must resolve all of the issues involved in ending your marriage, including:
- Property and debt division
- Child support and custody in case of a minor child
After you’ve resolved those issues, you’ll usually put everything in writing in a marital settlement agreement, which will then become part of your divorce judgement.
If you still have disagreements on the issues when you file your divorce papers, your case will proceed as a contested divorce.
The last thing you want to do is go to the clerk’s office only to discover that you are missing or have used the incorrect forms.
Some clerks of the court will mail you hard copies of the forms you require.
- Grounds for divorce in Hawaii: Hawaii only recognises “no-fault” divorce grounds, which means you don’t have to accuse your spouse of any wrongdoing to obtain a divorce.
- You can also file for divorce in Hawaii if you and your partner have been apart for at least two years or for the period of a valid separation order.
- Unlike some other states, Hawaii does not require a waiting period before finalising your divorce. So if your case is uncontested, you should be able to obtain your divorce judgement within a month or two of filing the initial paperwork.
- If you have an agreement known as settlement agreement and a simple case, you should be able to file for divorce on your own.
Filing for divorce is easy and less expensive if you follow the correct legal guidance. We hope that after reading this guide, you are now legally informed regarding the complete divorce process.
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