Getting a Divorce in Hawaii? Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Hawaii

1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Hawaii?

You or your spouse must be a resident of Hawaii for at least six months before you file for divorce, or you or your spouse must be stationed with the military in Hawaii for at least six months before you file.

2. Does Hawaii have a waiting period?

No, there is no waiting period in Hawaii. If you or your spouse disputes the claim that your marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may put your hearing on hold for 30 to 60 days and suggest that you seek counseling before it makes a decision.

3. Does the state have grounds for divorce?

Yes, Hawaii has several grounds for divorce. They include:

  • Your marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning there is no hope of getting back together.
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for the length of time specified in a decree of separation from bed and board (a legal separation), and you still haven’t reconciled.
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for more than two years under a decree of separate maintenance (a legal separation that calls for one spouse to help support the other), and you still haven’t reconciled.
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for at least two years before filing, there’s no chance you’re going to move back in together, and the court doesn’t find any reason why you shouldn’t get divorced.

4. How does Hawaii determine the division of property?

You and your spouse are encouraged to come up with a settlement on your own and present it to the court. If you can’t agree, the court will divide your property for you.

The court will make this decision based on what seems equitable, or fair. And in Hawaii, this applies to all property, whether it’s shared marital property or your separate property. To decide what is fair, the court will consider:

  • You and your spouse’s characters and conduct.
  • You and your spouse’s earning abilities.
  • What kind of financial condition you and your spouse will be in after the divorce.
  • What obligations you or your spouse might have in taking care of your children.
  • Any other circumstances the court decides are relevant.

5. Does Hawaii require mediation before a divorce is granted?

Mediation is not routinely required for a divorce in Hawaii, though the court may order you to seek mediation to resolve custody, visitation or support issues for your children.

6. How does the state determine child custody?

Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life — where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other biggies.

Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement.

The court’s decisions about custody are based on the best interest of your child. This might mean custody is awarded to you, to your spouse, to both of you, or even to someone else, if the court finds that in your child’s best interest. Your child’s wishes will be a part of that decision if the court thinks your child is mature enough to have a preference.

The court also may seek expert testimony to determine what is best for the physical, mental, moral and spiritual well-being of your child. If there is evidence that you or your spouse has a history of family violence, it is assumed that it would not be in your child’s best interest for that parent to have sole custody, joint legal custody or joint physical custody.

7. How does the state calculate child support?

In Hawaii, child support is based on statewide guidelines that involve a series of calculations to arrive at an amount. Health care costs for your child and work-related child care costs are figured into these calculations. The guidelines may include consideration of the following:

  • You and your spouse’s net earnings, incomes and resources.
  • You and your spouse’s earning potential, your reasonable necessities and your abilities to borrow money.
  • Your child’s needs.
  • The amount of public assistance that your child would qualify for based on those needs.
  • Whether you or your spouse has other dependents incentives for you and your spouse to work how to balance the standard of living for you, your spouse and your child.
  • How to avoid extreme changes in you or your spouse’s income because of custody.
    If you or your spouse is able to work but chooses not to and your child is in school, the court may calculate support as if you had an income equal to 30 hours at minimum wage.

8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support and maintenance, is not a given in a divorce case. If you or your spouse requests alimony, the court will take into account these factors:

  • You and your spouse’s financial resources.
  • The ability of the one seeking alimony to meet his or her needs independently.
  • How long you were married.
  • Your standard of living while you were married.
  • You and your spouse’s ages you and your spouse’s physical and emotional conditions.
  • You and your spouse’s occupations while you were married.
  • The skills and employability of the one seeking alimony.
  • You and your spouse’s needs.
  • Any custody and child support responsibilities.
  • The ability of the one being asked to pay alimony to meet his or her own needs while supporting the other.
  • How long alimony might be needed.
  • Any factors that show what you and your spouse’s financial situations would be like if alimony is awarded.

If alimony is awarded, the court may base the amount on how long it would take the person seeking it to get the education, training or qualifications necessary to get a job. Alimony automatically ends when the person receiving it is remarried unless the court has specifically ordered otherwise.

9. Is there a waiting period before remarriage in Hawaii?

No, you are free to remarry after the court delivers the final judgment ending your marriage.


Hawaii’s state statutes are online here.

A document listing many links to child support information in Hawaii can be found onlinehere.

The Hawaii Office of Child Support Hearings issues administrative orders about child support that have the same effect as Family Court orders. OCSH does not handle visitation, custody or division of property. When the only issue to be resolved is child support, however, the administrative process is a less formal alternative to potentially lengthy and costly court proceedings. Read more here.

Hawaii makes some divorce forms available online here.