Hawaii State Divorce Laws


Hawaii Divorce Law and Resources

U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Hawaii have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.

Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more expanded understanding concerning this subject.

As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.


On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges.


A person needs to be physically present in Hawaii for a continuous period of at least three months before filing for an annulment, divorce or separation. No absolute divorce from the bond of matrimony shall be granted for any cause unless either party to the marriage has been domiciled or has been physically present in the State for a continuous period of at least six months next preceding the application. The petition should be filed with the family court of the circuit in which the applicant has been domiciled.


A divorce may be granted on the following grounds:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken;
  • The parties have lived separate and apart under a decree of separation, 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 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.


The family court may decree a separation from bed and board for a period not to exceed two years in any matrimonial action upon a petition for separation when the court finds the marriage is temporarily disrupted. The court may make such further decree for the support and maintenance of either spouse and for the support, maintenance, and education of minor children, by either spouse, or out of the property of either spouse, as may appear just and proper.


In any action involving the custody or visitation of a minor child, the court may order any party and the minor child, as needed, to attend counseling, parenting classes or any other type of educational activity, as the court deems appropriate to meet the best interests of the child.


Hawaii is an equitable distribution state, meaning that if the parties can’t agree, the property will be distributed in an equitable fashion, not necessarily equally. In making these further orders, the court shall take into consideration: 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.


Either spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support. In addition to any other relevant factors considered, the court, in ordering spousal support and maintenance, shall consider the following factors:

  1. Financial resources of the parties;
  2. Ability of the party seeking support and maintenance 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 maintenance is made; and
  13. Probable duration of the need of the party seeking support and maintenance.

The court may order support and maintenance to a party for an indefinite period or until further order of the court; support and maintenance may be ordered for a period sufficient to allow completion of the training, education, skills, or other activity, and shall allow, in addition, sufficient time for the party to secure appropriate employment.


Either party to the divorce proceeding may request to resume the middle name or names and the last name used by the party prior to the marriage or a middle name or names and last name declared and used during any prior marriage and the court shall include the change of names in the divorce decree. [Based on Hawaii Revised Statutes 574-5]


In awarding the custody, the court shall be guided by the following standards, considerations, and procedures:

  • Custody may be awarded to either parent or to both parents according to the best interests of the child. Custody may be awarded to persons other than the father or mother whenever the award serves the best interest of the child.
  • 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 shall be considered and be given due weight by the court;
  • Whenever good cause appears therefor, the court may require an investigation and report concerning the care, welfare, and custody of any minor child of the parties.


In establishing the amounts of child support, the court shall use the states established guidelines for calculating child support.

The guidelines may include, but is not limited to the following consideration: 

  1. All earnings, income, and resources of both parents; provided that earnings be the net amount, after deductions for taxes, and social security. Overtime and cost of living allowance may be deducted where appropriate;
  2. The earning potential, reasonable necessities, and borrowing capacity of both parents;
  3. The needs of the child for whom support is sought;
  4. The amount of public assistance which would be paid for the child under the full standard of need as established by the department;
  5. The existence of other dependents of the obligor parent;
  6. To foster incentives for both parents to work;
  7. To balance the standard of living of both parents and child and avoid placing any below the poverty level whenever possible;
  8. To avoid extreme and inequitable changes in either parent’s income depending on custody; and
  9. If any obligee parent (with a school age child or children in school), who is mentally and physically able to work, remains at home and does not work, thirty (or less) hours of weekly earnings at the minimum wage may be imputed to that parent’s income.


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