Grounds for Divorce in Hawaii

Even married couples living in paradise aren't immune to a failing relationship--Hawaii offers several options for divorce.

By , Attorney

It's no surprise that Hawaii is a popular location for destination weddings and honeymoons, but sadly, it's not immune to divorce. If you're a resident of the Aloha State and considering a divorce, this article will help you understand your legal options.

Hawaii Is a No-Fault Divorce State

Historically, most states required divorcing spouses to provide a reason (grounds) for the breakdown of their marriage. Today, however, every state has adopted some form of a no-fault divorce procedure, which means that it doesn't matter why the relationship failed, just that neither spouse wants to remain married.

While it's true that in some states, like Michigan and Georgia, couples can point fingers and place blame on each other for a divorce (called fault-based divorce), residents of Hawaii only need to tell the court that their marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown and there's no chance for reconciliation. If both parties agree, the court will grant the divorce.

What If My Spouse Doesn't Agree?

If one spouse denies an irretrievable breakdown, the court won't automatically approve the request for a divorce. In some situations, a judge will continue (delay) the divorce proceedings and suggest that the couple attend counseling. This sounds unfair, but keep in mind that the court can only make you wait a maximum of 60 days, and if you haven't reconciled with your spouse, the judge will grant your divorce.

Are There Other Ways to Request a Divorce?

Yes. In the divorce petition, couples can request a no-fault divorce if they have lived separate and apart continuously for 2 or more years, and both agree that there's no reasonable likelihood that they will live together as a married couple in the future.

What Happens If My Spouse and I Agree on Everything?

If you and your spouse can reach an agreement about all the major legal issues that a court would normally decide during a divorce, you can request an uncontested divorce. This legal process usually takes less time and money than the alternatives.

The legal issues that you would need to negotiate with your spouse typically include:

It's important to understand that even if you and your spouse agree on all the issues, a court can reject any provision of your final divorce settlement agreement if the judge doesn't feel that it provides a fair property division or if any portion is not in the children's best interests.

If at any time during the divorce process (before the judge signs your judgment of divorce) you disagree with your spouse, you can ask the judge to convert your divorce to a contested divorce and you can go to trial.

What Are the Requirements for Divorce?

If you're filing the divorce paperwork, you'll need to prove to the court that you are a resident of Hawaii and you have physically lived in the state for at least 6 months prior to filing. This includes military personnel stationed on the military bases on the islands. Additionally, you need to live in the county where you plan to file for a minimum of 3 months before you submit the paperwork.

Hawaii doesn't have a mandatory waiting period before the court can issue a final judgment of divorce. This generally means that the court can begin divorce proceedings as soon as the judge has time on the court docket (calendar). Some states require mandatory waiting periods of 30 days to 6 months, which can drastically increase the cost of divorce.

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