Divorce in Hawai’i, Part 2

Know your islands, know your courts

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Let me start with an apology for a line in “Divorce in Hawai’1, Part 1,” in which I stated “you file in the county where you live.”

Technically, it’s true that Hawaii does have counties, but at least according to this Wikipedia article (I know, not authoritative, but sometimes a good place to start), counties in Hawaii are structured differently than those in mainland states. More “county lore” can be gleaned from this ham radio site,  and here’s an official map of counties from the Census Bureau.

Having acknowledged all that, when you’re looking for speedy, yet trustworthy answers to questions about divorce, you don’t need any extra runaround than what you’ve probably already been getting. So let’s look to the actual authorities–the courts.

Family Court, Circuit Courts & the islands

According to the Instructions for Uncontested Divorce Without Children packet, for the Island of Oahu, it’s actually more accurate to think in terms of which island is the residence, because Family Court rules, and Family Courts are determined by circuits, in turn determined in large part by geography (that is, which island is involved):

In order to file a divorce action in the State of Hawaii, you must have been domiciled or physically present on the island for a continuous period of at least 3 months prior to the filing of the Complaint for Divorce and either you or your spouse must have been domiciled or physically present in the State of Hawaii for a continuous period of at least 6 months prior to the filing of Complaint for Divorce.  [my bold emphasis following] The islands are divided into separate circuits. You must meet the minimum residency requirements and file your Complaint for Divorce in the correct circuit.

  • First Circuit = Oahu
  • Second Circuit = Maui, Lanai, and Molokai
  • Third Cicuit = Hawaii (Hilo and Kona Divisions)
  • Fifth Circuit = Kauai

From the Family Court’s divorce page:

Facts about Getting a Divorce in Hawai`i

Here are some facts about getting a divorce in Hawai`i:

  • In Hawai`i, Family Court hears all divorces.
  • You can get a divorce even if your spouse does not want a divorce.
  • You do not have to state a reason for wanting a divorce.
  • You can get divorced in Hawai`i even if you were married in another state or another country.
  • Before petitioning for a divorce, you must live in Hawai`i for six months. This applies to military personnel stationed in Hawai`i as well as legal residents of another state or country.
  • You do not have to hire a lawyer, although having one is very helpful.
  • A divorce usually takes several months. If the couple disagrees on who will have custody of the child or children or how to divide the joint property, the case will take longer.
  • If you are an alien on conditional status and married to a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident, a divorce may affect your immigration status. You should consult with an immigration attorney before filing for divorce.

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