Divorce

Annually there are more than 4,100 divorces on O‘ahu alone. There are many reasons why spouses seek divorce. They may have grown apart. There may be issues relating to domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health or infidelity. There may be insurmountable economic pressures. Whatever the reason, these issues need to be recognized, analyzed and factored in as to how cases proceed. Bryant and Youmans have many years of dealing with the multitude of issues resulting in the end of marriages, and advise their clients on appropriate and reasonable courses of action.

There are four distinct concerns in divorce:

  1. Dissolution of the marriage means that the marriage is “irretrievable broken.” In other words, the parties are no longer able to live together as spouses.
  2. Custody is determined solely in the best interest of the children. The Family Court will not grant custody to a parent without such a showing. Timesharing or visitation must also be shown to be in the best interest of the children.

    There are two types of custody:
    • Legal custody pertains to decision-making. A parent with sole legal custody generally makes all the major decisions regarding the children, including, but not limited to educational and medical decisions. Parents with joint legal custody make joint decisions.
    • Physical custody pertains to where the children are to live. There are many different timesharing arrangements from a fifty-fifty split to supervised visits or no visits at all.
    • Child Support is based on a formula called the “Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.” This form factors in what the custody and visitation arrangements are, the gross monthly incomes of the parties, who is paying for the child’s health insurance and how much, and who is paying for the child’s child care expenses and how much. This form is available on the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Website.
  3. Alimony is monthly financial support provided by a higher income spouse to a lower income spouse. Unlike child support, there is no formula for alimony. Generally, Family Court will order alimony when necessary to allow the lower income spouse to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, if the higher income spouse can afford it. The amount and duration of alimony in a particular case is impossible to predict. Alimony depends on many factors and is analyzed case by case. There are different types of alimony and support, including an award of additional property from the marital estate in lieu of alimony.
  4. Property Division in Hawai‘i is by statute to be “just and equitable.” The appellate courts in Hawai‘i have created the “Marital Partnership Principles” in determining what is just and equitable. These principles have led to the creation of five categories of property and the classification of the property will decide how the property will be awarded.A detailed analysis of marital property and the classification will be necessary to reach just and equitable property division. The completion of a detailed “Asset & Debt Statement” is necessary to begin the analysis.