Divorce in Hawai'i, Part 1
Aloha State quite reasonable on residency requirements
Basics of divorce
Experts will tell you two things about divorce, right off the bat:
- Unless you have a very simple situation, including agreement with your spouse over almost everything, you should retain an attorney you not only can get along with but also one who ...
- ... is trained and up-to-date on any new wrinkles in the law of your state, plus
- ... is experienced in both the nuances of divorce law as well as the local court system;
- On the other hand, if you are focused solely on the potential legalities of your situation, you may not be prepared for the emotional trauma that can accompany divorce--people often report feelings of deep grief, equivalent to experiencing a death in the family, so it makes sense to budget time, energy and funds for professional counseling.
Most urgent: defusing domestic violence
The most immediate thing experts will tell you, however, is that if your situation involves domestic violence, it must be dealt with immediately, before any estate planning, child-custody issues, etc.--simply put, anyone at risk in a domestic violence scenario must be made safe as soon as possible.
Attorney can help with violence, counseling--and, of course, the fine points of divorce
The good thing about having competent counsel is that your attorney can help with both: via referrals for professional counseling, as well as seeking shelter from domestic violence and any the issuing of any protective or restraining orders that may be necessary.
Domestic violence help in Hawaii
Of course, regardless of your gender, you shouldn't wait to have an attorney to start the process of removing yourself and any affected children (and maybe even pets) from a scene of domestic violence. Residents of Hawaii, despite the obvious geographic and logistic constraints, have access to a wealth of agencies and facilities that can help, including these online resources:
- Hawai'i Police Department, Domestic Violence Services;
- Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
- Domestic Violence Action Center;
- A.A.R.D.V.A.R.C.'s page, Hawaii: Domestic Violence Resources;
- Safe 4 All comprehensive links (men, women, gay, transgendered, suicide, domestic violence);
- Child & Family Service, East Hawaii (shelters, more links, etc).
Residency requirements and venue
Hawaii is liberal in a makes-sense kind of way about residency. In order to file the papers (that is, act as the Petitioner), you must have lived in Hawaii for six months prior to the filing; further, you file in the county where you live, but you must have been in that county (not necessarily the same address) for at least three months.
For military personnel, the same guidelines apply, except of course you have been stationed in Hawaii and your county requisite to these minimums; this is in lieu of declaring Hawaii as your legal residence--in other words, don't worry about it if you've been in-state for six months and the same county for three months.
Next time: more answers in "Divorce in Hawai'i, Part 2."
However, if you're ready to start the process, please read below.
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