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The divorce process in Hawaii

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Family and Divorce Law

Married Hawaii couples may put off divorce out of fear or confusion about the process. It is important to understand how the process works to alleviate your anxiety.

This knowledge is also valuable if you are suddenly served with divorce papers. There are requirements and deadlines; missing one could cost you.

Jurisdiction requirements

As with most other states, there are certain requirements that must be met before you can file for divorce. You must have lived in Hawaii for six months or more and lived on the same island or within the same county for three months or more.

Unlike in the past, when most states required you to prove grounds for divorce, Hawaii is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you can file for divorce even if your spouse does not agree to it.

You also do not need to allege a ground for divorce, such as adultery or cruelty, to get divorced. Rather, you must declare that your marriage is irretrievably broken. This generally means that there is no reasonable prospect for reconciliation.

Once you file a divorce complaint, your spouse must be served with the compliant.

Service can be accomplished by personal service, mail or a process server or Sheriff. Personal service must be done by someone besides you who is over the age of 18.

You can serve the divorce complaint  by certified or registered mail but it must be done with restricted delivery, meaning your spouse must sign and confirm receipt. If you have trouble serving your spouse either of these two ways you can serve them through a Sheriff or process server.

Responding to a divorce complaint

Once your spouse is served with the divorce complaint, they have a 20-day time limit to respond. If you are the one served, it is important to file your response within this deadline to preserve your rights.

While you can finalize your divorce after service is accomplished, most divorces take some time to resolve. Divorce involves dividing marital property, which is property acquired during the marriage. Marital debts must also be divided and if you have children, child custody issues must be resolved.

Although you and your spouse might agree on these issues, any agreements should still be put into writing and filed with the court to make them legally binding. If you cannot agree, you will eventually be scheduled for a hearing in front of a judge who will decide the issues for you. After that, you will receive a final divorce decree.