DIVORCE click here for information

LEGAL SEPARATION - In Hawaii, becoming legally separated involves a process similar to divorce. A couple wishing a legal separation files in a family court in the judicial district where the petitioner lives. Going through the courts can take from a few months to over a year. Both spouses present evidence that helps the judge divide assets, determine child support and custody, and set alimony. If the spouses come up with an acceptable separation agreement before going to court, they may not have to appear in court at all because they have what is called an "uncontested" legal separation.

     Hawaii is a no-fault state, which means neither partner's alleged wrongdoings can be cited as the cause for separation. Instead, the couple cite "irreconcilable differences " as the cause of the separation, and this must be proven to the court. 

     In Hawaii, a legal separation lasts for a maximum of two years. In this case, legal separation means that no additional matrimonial action can be taken during this time and the couple may not sleep in the same bed or under the same roof. The legal separation is called a bed and board decree.

     If a couple files for separation in Hawaii, the court may require one spouse to pay support to the other. This could be spousal support, child support or both. The family court decides the amount of support paid. If one spouse cannot pay support, payment may be taken out of property the couple owns. The court attempts to be equitable in deciding whether property should be utilized or divided for support during a separation.

     If the spouses do not reconcile in two years, then they can divorce. Either party may petition for a divorce while a separation decree is in effect.

QDRO - In the United States, a Qualified domestic relations order or QDRO is a legal order, entered as part of a divorce or legal separation, that splits and changes ownership of a retirement plan to give the divorced spouse their share of the asset or pension plan.

MOTION FOR PRE OR POST DECREE RELIEF -Frequently, when parties file a divorce, there is a need to immediately determine financial rights and liabilities, as well as child custody and support. This is done through a Motion for Pre-Decree Relief, which will determine the rights of the parties temporarily, pending the final divorce decree.

     Sometimes, following a divorce, the parties may seek a change in the custodial award set forth in the divorce decree, or they may otherwise seek to enforce the divorce decree in terms of financial awards, custody, visitation, or child support. This is done through a Motion for Post-Decree Relief, which will determine the rights of the parties in a post-divorce setting.

MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT OR VISITATION - Once a child support order or agreement is in place, the payment amount may be increased or decreased under certain circumstances. If a parent's earning ability or a child's financial needs have changed - that could conceivably be enough to trigger a modification. The modification can also be used to change court-ordered visitation between the parents.

PRE OR POST NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS  - A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract you enter into before a marriage. The purpose of a prenup is to ensure that you and your spouse-to-be enter into the marriage with a clear understanding on the division of finances in the event of a divorce or death. The terms of a prenup can vary, depending on your mutual wishes. It can cover how to split property purchased during the marriage. It can also cover how to split items you both owned prior to the marriage. Prenups can also decide who will pay specific bills over the course of the marriage.

     A post nuptial agreement is a legal contract you enter into after marriage. The purpose of the agreement is to settle financial and marital issues that are present within the marriage. A postnup can cover current and future debts. It can cover who owns which assets. It can also address mundane issues like the household budget and day-to-day concerns, such as how much time one spouse can devote to hobbies or hanging out with friends. A postnuptial agreement can exclude business debt from a future divorce. However, it cannot include a waiver of a spouse’s obligation to pay child support.

POWER OF ATTORNEY - A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. In case you ever become mentally incapacitated, you'll need what are known as "durable" powers of attorney for medical care and finances.

GUARDIANSHIP - a guardianship is a legal relationship that gives one or more individuals or agencies the responsibility of the personal affairs of the protected person. A protected person is someone who has been determined by the court to be either incompetent or incapacitated.

NAME CHANGE - The Courts are often willing to accept name changes for almost any legitimate reason. However, the granting of an application for change of name is discretionary with the Court. For an order/decree/judgment of name change to be granted, the Court must find compliance with the requirements of notice and the requirements for the allegations in the application. The Court must also find good and sufficient reason for the change, find the change consistent with the public interest and if the change of name is for a minor child, find that the change is in the best interests of the minor child.

     You cannot change your/one's name for a fraudulent purpose, such as to avoid debts, you cannot change to a name that could affect the rights of another person, such as a celebrity, you cannot use a curse word, racial slur, obscene and/or an offensive word as part of your/one's name and you cannot change to a name that would cause deliberate confusion (for example, a name with punctuation and/or a number in it).

PATERNITY - Paternity is a legal determination that a male individual is the father of a child if the child’s parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth. Until paternity is established the child’s father does not have legal rights over that child. Besides establishing a father’s legal rights, paternity is often needed to establish custody and visitation as well as child support for that child.

STIPULATION TO AMEND DIVORCE DECREE - Life is full of changes, and it's possible to change a divorce order to help you cope with those changes. Filing a 'Stipulation to amend divorce decree' is the legal process of amending a divorce order issued by a court. A final divorce decree will specify rights and obligations regarding child custody and visitation, as well as spousal support, division of property, and other matters. A petition to amend a divorce decree can be filed for modifying any of the rights and obligations specified in the divorce decree within the first year of the divorce. There are no time limits in regards to matters of the children.

MOTION TO SET FOR TRIAL - If the spouse refuses to cooperate and fails to file an answer after service of process, Plaintiff will appear at a court hearing on a motion for default judgment and can then submit the decree for approval. If the spouse files an answer, the plaintiff will file a motion for pretrial conference/motion to set for trial together with a position statement. It takes about three weeks to a month to get a motions hearing set.

EX PARTE MOTIONS - Ex parte motions, or "emergency" motions, are exceedingly common in divorce and custody cases, much to the chagrin of Circuit Court judges. Literally meaning "without the [other] party," ex parte motions look like an attractive option for litigants who feel a sense of urgency about their claims. They have been widely adopted by many pro se (self-represented) litigants, because of their ease to file and the perceived instant relief they may afford.

AFFIDAVIT OF DEATH, MARRIAGE, ETC. -  a document that verifies the proof of the matter requested.

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