The following is a summary of Hawaii’s divorce laws. In some cases, the exact text of the statute has been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Hawaii Code or ask an attorney how the law might apply to your particular situation.
Hawaii Divorce Grounds
Hawaii is a no fault divorce state, meaning there are no fault grounds for divorce under Hawaii law. You can obtain a divorce in Hawaii based on one of two grounds: living separate or an irretrievable breakdown on the marriage. To qualify for a divorce based on living separate, you must meet the following criteria:
- The parties have lived separate and apart under a decree of separation from bed and board entered by any court of law with competent jurisdiction, the term of separation has expired, and no reconciliation has been effected;
- The parties have lived separate and apart for a period of two years or more under a decree of separate maintenance entered by any court of law with competent jurisdiction, and no reconciliation has been effected; or
- The parties have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of two years or more immediately preceding the application, there is no reasonable likelihood that cohabitation will be resumed, and the court is satisfied that, in the particular circumstances of the case, it would not be harsh and oppressive to the defendant or contrary to the public interest to a divorce on this ground on the complaint of the plaintiff.
Hawaii Residency laws
Hawaii law requires at least one spouse to have lived in the state of Hawaii for at least six months before filing the Complaint for Divorce. One party must also have lived in the particular circuit where the divorce will be filed for at least three months under Hawaii divorce law.
How to file for divorce in Hawaii
You can file the divorce petition either in the circuit where the plaintiff lives or where the couple last resided together.
Hawaii Final Divorce Hearing
Uncontested divorce cases do not necessarily require a hearing under Hawaii divorce law if both spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Learn more about the divorce procedure.
Hawaii divorce complaint
There is no simplified dissolution process or joint petition under Hawaii divorce law. One spouse is the plaintiff, and the other is the defendant. The complaint will be served on the defendant and filed with the court.
In addition to any other relevant factors considered, the court, in ordering alimony, shall consider the following factors:
1. Financial resources of the parties;
2. Ability of the party seeking alimony to meet his or her needs independently;
3. Duration of the marriage;
4. Standard of living established during the marriage;
5. Age of the parties;
6. Physical and emotional condition of the parties;
7. Usual occupation of the parties during the marriage;
8. Vocational skills and employability of the party seeking support and maintenance;
9. Needs of the parties;
10. Custodial and child support responsibilities;
11. Ability of the party from whom support and maintenance is sought to meet his or her own needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking support and maintenance;
12. Other factors which measure the financial condition in which the parties will be left as the result of the action under which the determination of alimony is made; and
13. Probable duration of the need of the party seeking support and maintenance.
Learn more about general alimony laws.
In awarding child custody, the court shall be guided by the following guidelines:
(1) Custody should be awarded to either parent or to both parents according to the best interests of the child;
(2) Custody may be awarded to persons other than the father or mother whenever the award serves the best interest of the child. Any person who has had de facto custody of the child in a stable and wholesome home and is a fit and proper person shall be entitled prima facie to an award of custody;
(3) If a child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason, so as to form an intelligent preference, the child’s wishes as to custody will be considered and be given due weight by the court;
(4) Whenever good cause appears, the court may require an investigation and report concerning the care, welfare, and custody of any minor child of the parties. When so directed by the court, investigators or professional personnel attached to or assisting the court shall make investigations and reports which shall be made available to all interested parties and counsel before hearing, and the reports may be received in evidence if no objection is made and, if objection is made, may be received in evidence provided the person or persons responsible for the report are available for cross-examination as to any matter that has been investigated;
(5) The court may hear the testimony of any person or expert produced by any party or upon the court’s own motion, whose skill, insight, knowledge, or experience is such that the person’s or expert’s testimony is relevant to a just and reasonable determination of what is for the best physical, mental, moral, and spiritual well-being of the child whose custody is at issue;
(6) Any child custody award shall be subject to modification or change whenever the best interests of the child require or justify the modification or change and, wherever practicable, the same person who made the original order shall hear the motion or petition for modification of the prior award;
(7) Reasonable visitation rights shall be awarded to parents, grandparents, and any person interested in the welfare of the child in the discretion of the court, unless it is shown that rights of visitation are detrimental to the best interests of the child;
(8) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the child and may assess the reasonable fees and expenses of the guardian ad litem as costs of the action, payable in whole or in part by either or both parties as the circumstances may justify;
(9) In every proceeding where there is a dispute as to the custody of a child, a determination by the court that family violence has been committed by a parent raises a refutable presumption that it is detrimental to the child and not in the best interest of the child to be placed in sole custody, joint legal custody, or joint physical custody with the perpetrator of family violence. In addition to other factors that a court must consider in a proceeding in which the custody of a child or visitation by a parent is at issue, and in which the court has made a finding of family violence by a parent:
(A) The court shall consider as primary the safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of family violence;
(B) The court shall consider the perpetrator’s history of causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, to another person; and
(C) If a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of family violence by the other parent, the absence or relocation shall not be a factor that weighs against the parent in determining custody or visitation;
(10) A court may award visitation to a parent who committed family violence only if the court finds that adequate provision for the physical safety and psychological well-being of the child and adequate provision for the safety of the parent who is a victim of family violence can be made.
Learn more about general child custody laws.
Determination of Gross Income
Gross income means income from all sources, excluding needs-based public assistance.
Self-employment income means income minus reasonable business expenses. Reasonable business expenses are those actual expenditures reasonably necessary for the production of income, including a reasonable amount for ordinary wear and tear of capital assets and one-half of self employment taxes.
Income may be imputed when a parent is unemployed or underemployed. However, income shall not be imputed if a parent is unemployed or underemployed in order to care for a child under the age of three years old. The parent’s imputed income shall be determined according to his or her income capacity in the local job market, considering the reasonable needs of the child(ren) and reasonable work aspirations of the parent.
-From the Hawaii Child Support Guidelines
Deviation from Child Support Guidelines
The court may deviate from the child support guidelines for exceptional circumstances.
-From the Hawaii Child Support Guidelines
Implementation of Income Withholding
The income of an obligor shall become subject to withholding, without regard to whether there are arrearages or delinquency, upon the agency receiving a request for income withholding from the obligee and a determination made by the agency that income withholding is appropriate, or upon the agency receiving a request for income withholding from the obligor.
If the obligor who receives income on a periodic basis becomes delinquent in making payments under a support order in an amount at least equal to the support payable for one month, the agency shall issue an income withholding order that shall include an amount to be paid towards the delinquency.
-From Section §576D-14 of the Hawaii Statutes.
You can find the full child support guidelines, along with worksheets to calculate support under the guidelines, at the following link: Hawaii Child Support Guidelines.
Here you can find the Hawaii Child Support Enforcement Agency.
When dividing and distributing the property and debts of the parties, Hawaii law lists the following guidelines that shall be taken into consideration by a Hawaii divorce court:
- The respective merits of the parties;
- The relative abilities of the parties;
- The condition in which each party will be left by the divorce, the burdens imposed upon either party for the benefit of the children of the parties; and
- All other circumstances of the case.
Learn more about general property division in divorce or common ways to divide your property.