DIY Divorce in Hawaii

The State of Hawai’i allows spouses to be divorced without ever seeing a judge or entering a courtroom. The process is called “Uncontested Divorce by Affidavit” and takes approximately six (6) to ten (10) weeks once all the paperwork is submitted. Obtaining an uncontested divorce requires that both parties agree on all terms of the divorce.  The divorce is final after the Divorce Decree has been approved and signed by the Judge and filed-stamped by the court.

Some of the things that must be settled during divorce proceedings are:

  • Who will have custody of the children? Who will have visitation?
  • How will the property be divided?
  • How will the debts be divided?
  • Who will pay child support and how much?

Until the final Divorce Decree is entered, the Judge can issue temporary orders regarding:

  • Where  and with whom the children will live.
  • Who will pay the children’s expenses.
  • Spousal or family support
  • Who will pay marital debts?

There are many options available families seeking to divorce.  Family law attorneys can help advice you on your legal rights and responsibilities and help guide you on the best path forward.  Mediators can assist you and your spouse if you do not agree on all of the issues to be decided in a divorce.  Once an agreement is reached, you are able to file your uncontested divorce for the Court’s approval.

Here are some basic facts about divorce in Hawai’i taken from the Judiciary’s website:

  • In Hawai`i, all divorces are filed with the Family Court .
  • You can get a divorce even if your spouse does not want a divorce.
  • In Hawaii, as long as one spouse believes that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that the marriage cannot be fixed, either spouse can file for divorce.
  • You can get divorced in Hawai`i if you were legally married in another state or another country.
  • In general, before filing for divorce in Hawaii, either party to the marriage must have been domiciled or physically present in the State of Hawaii for a continuous period of at least six months preceding the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. Also, the party who files for the divorce, must have been domiciled or present in the circuit in which the Complaint for Divorce will be filed for a continuous period of at least three months preceding the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. Please refer to Section 580-1 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes for further information.
  • You do not have to hire a lawyer, although it is suggested that you consult with an attorney to find out what your rights, responsibilities, and options are. If you are unable to afford an attorney, there are several organizations which provide legal assistance for free and/or based upon income.The Family Court of the First Circuit offers Ho`okele (also known as the Family Court Service Center), the Kapolei Access to Justice Room (KAJR), and Divorce Law in Hawaii Seminars. Although prohibited from providing legal advice, Ho`okele provides unrepresented litigants with brochures, self-help packets, court forms, instructions, procedure, and one-on-one assistance in completing court forms. Ho`okele is located on the first floor of the Ronald T.Y. Moon Kapolei Courthouse, located at 4675 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei, Hawaii 96707 and can be contacted at (808) 954-8290.

    The Kapolei Access to Justice Room (KAJR) provides attorneys from the Family Law Section of the Hawaii Bar Association who volunteer every first and third Thursdays of each month to provide limited free legal assistance to unrepresented litigants involved in a civil case in the Family Court. Appointments are made through Ho`okele either in person or by calling (808) 954-8290.

    The Divorce Law in Hawaii is a series of free informational seminars sponsored by the Family Court of the First Circuit, presented once monthly.  Presentations include the law and process of divorce, divorce settlement options, and ways to resolve a divorce with a minimum of conflict and expense.

    Other organizations which may be able to provide legal assistance include Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii. The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii. The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (LASH) is a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance to those who qualify based on income. LASH can be contacted at (808) 536-4302.

    The Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii (VLSH) is a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance through education, legal advice clinics, brief services, and referrals to pro bono attorneys for direct representation. Volunteer attorneys provide services to those who qualify based on income and legal issue. VLSH can be contacted at (808) 528-7046.

  • A divorce usually takes several months. If the couple disagrees on who will have custody of the child or children or how to divide their property, the case will take longer.
  • If you are an alien on conditional status and married to a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident, a divorce may affect your immigration status. You should consult with an immigration attorney before filing for divorce.
  • The court provides language and sign language interpreters for parties and witnesses free of charge for meaningful access to court proceedings and services. For more information about language services, contact the Office of Equality and Access to the Courts at (808) 539-4860.

Family Court Divorce forms differ somewhat depending on what island you live on.  Forms can be found online

  • O’ahu (First Circuit) – https://www.courts.state.hi.us/self-help/courts/forms/oahu/family_court_forms
  • Maui, Lana’i & Moloka’i (Second Circuit) – https://www.courts.state.hi.us/self-help/courts/forms/maui/family_court_forms
  • Hawai’i (Third Circuit) – https://www.courts.state.hi.us/self-help/courts/forms/hawaii/family_court_forms
  • Kaua’i (Fourth Circuit) – https://www.courts.state.hi.us/self-help/courts/forms/kauai/family_court_forms

Filing fees for divorce are currently $215 if there are no children and $265 if there are children.  More information can be found at: https://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/courts_docs/Family_Court_Fees.pdf

Feel free to reach out for a free consultation if you are struggling the decide the best path forward.  At Family Mediation Hawaii, our goal is to get you out of this as whole as possible.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO GET UGLY.

Nothing stated hereinabove is legal advice.  The above article is meant to be purely educational.  Anyone seeking a divorce in Hawai’i should consult with a licensed family law attorney prior to filing their divorce.

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