Family Law

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When people decide to marry, most do not think that they will end up divorcing. However, divorce in Hawaii is fairly common. If you feel that your marriage is at its end, you might wonder how to go about getting a divorce in Hawaii. An experienced Honolulu divorce lawyer can discuss your options and explain what you might expect when you file a petition for a Hawaii divorce.

How Do You File for Divorce in Hawaii?

Before you can file for divorce in Hawaii, you must meet the residency requirements. You must be a resident of Hawaii and have lived in the state for six months or longer. You must also file your petition in the correct circuit court. The correct circuit court is the court that has jurisdiction over the area in which you live, and you must have lived in the jurisdiction for three months or longer.

Multiple forms and documents must be filed with the court. A Honolulu divorce lawyer can help you to file the correct documents and to complete the service of process. A divorce case begins when you file a complaint for divorce, a summons, and an information sheet. Your Honolulu divorce lawyer can help to make certain that these documents are filled out correctly and can file them for you. Once the right documents are filed, they will need to be properly served on your spouse. The process server will file the notice of service with the court, and your spouse will have time to file his or her answer to your divorce complaint.

Once the complaint and answer have been filed, your case will be scheduled for a hearing on the court's docket. The case will then be scheduled for further proceedings, depending on whether you and your spouse can reach a settlement agreement or if you have outstanding issues in dispute that will need to be litigated.

You and your spouse will be required to exchange financial information with each other as a part of the divorce process. This helps to ensure that each of you will receive the portion of the marital estate to which you are entitled.

Frequently Asked Question: In Regards to Divorce in Hawaii, How Long Does It Take?

A Hawaii divorce may last for a few months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the issues and whether the divorce is fully litigated or settled. The length of time that a divorce in Hawaii might take will also depend on the court's calendar. If your Honolulu divorce lawyer can negotiate a full settlement agreement in your Hawaii divorce, the process may take much less time and be significantly less expensive than if you and your spouse litigate every issue until you go to a Hawaii divorce trial.

Uncontested Divorce

If you and your spouse agree on every issue, you will go through an uncontested Hawaii divorce process. In an uncontested Hawaii divorce, the spouses agree to how to divide their property, assets, and debts and how to handle child custody, child support, and spousal support. If you agree to everything, your Honolulu divorce lawyer can draft a divorce settlement agreement that outlines the terms to which you have agreed. Your spouse's attorney can review the proposed agreement and ask for changes to be made if anything appears to be incorrect.

Once both of you agree that the settlement agreement accurately reflects what you have decided, both of you can sign it, and your Honolulu divorce lawyer can file it with the court. The judge will accept the agreement as long as it is fair and conscionable. Once the agreement is accepted and approved by the court, it will become a part of your final divorce orders, and the divorce decree will be issued by the judge.

Frequently Asked Question: Is Hawaii a Community Property State?

States generally fall into categories of community property or equitable division states for the division of property and assets in divorce cases. Hawaii is not a community property state, however. This means that if you do not reach an agreement with your spouse for how to handle your marital assets in your Hawaii divorce, the judge will decide how to divide everything according to what he or she believes is fair in terms of each of your skills, your employability, any needs that might exist, and other factors.

Military Divorce in Hawaii

If you or your spouse are a member of the military, a divorce in Hawaii will work a little differently. You and your spouse will be able to choose whether to file for divorce where the military service member is stationed or in either of your states of residence. To file for divorce in Hawaii as a military service member, you do not have to meet the state's residency requirements and are allowed to file where you are stationed.

If you are on active duty and are notified that your spouse has filed for divorce and child custody, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows you to request that the proceedings stay until after your return. Military pensions are also subject to division in divorce cases. If your marriage lasted at least 10 years during which the military service overlapped for 10 or more years, the payments to your spouse for his or her portion of your military retirement will be paid directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. There are a couple of other rules that govern military divorces. A Honolulu divorce lawyer can explain what to expect and how a military divorce works.

Child Custody in Hawaii

If you and your spouse share children, child custody, visitation, and support will be a part of your divorce. In Hawaii, judges follow the best interests of the child standard when they make custody and visitation decisions. The standard can be found at Haw. Rev. Stat. § 571-46, in which the factors that the courts consider to determine what is in the best interests of the child are listed.

If you and your spouse have a child custody dispute, your attorney can help you to gather evidence for the various factors to present to the court. Hawaii courts generally believe that children do best when they have liberal time with each parent. However, if there are issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse, one parent may have his or her visitation time strictly limited.

Honolulu Divorce Lawyer

A Hawaii divorce is rarely easy. Divorces often are filled with emotional conflict, which can make it difficult to look at the issues logically. Getting the help of an experienced Honolulu divorce lawyer might help you to see the issues from a more logical perspective and make it likelier that you will be able to negotiate a full settlement agreement. Attorney Mujtabaa has more than 38 years of experience and understands the types of issues that many people face when they are going through divorces. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn more about the rights that you might have in your divorce.

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