Hawaii Divorce Laws

To file for dissolution of marriage in the state of Hawaii, residency requirements must be met.  If not then the case will be dismissed before any judgments can be made.  Below are the Hawaii divorce laws that are currently in place.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

  • A person may file for divorce in Hawaii once either spouse has been a resident of the state for 6 months prior to the filing.
  • Filing should occur in the judicial district of one spouse.
  • The paperwork, that is the Complaint for Divorce, must include the appropriate grounds for which the divorce is being filed.  Grounds must be agreed upon by both parties or provable in court.
  • Ground for divorce in Hawaii can include:
    • Parties have a legal separation, separation order has expired and no reconciliation has been achieved,
    • Spouses have lived separate from each other for no less then two years prior to filing and there is no possibility of reconciliation.
    • The marriage is irretrievably broken.

The spouse filing for dissolution of marriage is known as the Plaintiff and the Defendant is the non-filing spouse.

Division of Property

Hawaii is an “equitable distribution” state which indicates that property will be divided in an equitable fashion, this may not always mean “equal” but instead fair.  Parties to the divorce are encouraged to agree upon a fair division of “marital property” which includes assets and debt incurred during the marriage or brought into the marriage.  If a decision cannot be reached then the court will decide.  Several factors will be considered including

  • The abilities of the petitioner and defendant
  • The financial condition of each party post divorce
  • Any other circumstances the court deems useful.

Child Custody

Child custody is often the most acrimonious part of a divorce.  The Hawaiian courts do everything possible to reduce the emotional pain of the proceedings on the children.  Custody is determined in the best interests of the child; it can be awarded to one or both parents as the court sees fit.  The courts will take into consideration the visitation of the other parent, wanting to insure that meaningful contact is maintained.  Parenting time or visitation with the non custodial parent must be observed if ordered by the court.


Child support in Hawaii is based on the Percentage of Income formula.  Per that, the support obligation will be calculated as a percentage of income of the non-custodial parent who is obligated to pay.

Spousal support is not considered in all divorce cases in Hawaii.  Several factors are considered by the court before deciding

  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The overall length of the marriage.
  • The ability of the spouse expected to pay maintenance to meet his/her own needs while also meeting the needs of the spouse.
  • Age of the parties
  • Physical and emotional health
  • Financial needs of the parties involved.
  • Any other factors deemed relevant.