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Hawaii Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Hawaii

In Hawaii, becoming legally separated involves a process similar to divorce. A couple wishing a legal separation files in a family court in the judicial district where the petitioner lives. Going through the courts can take from a few months to over a year. Both spouses present evidence that helps the judge divide assets, determine child support and custody, and set alimony. If the spouses come up with an acceptable separation agreement before going to court, they may not have to appear in court at all because they have what is called an "uncontested" legal separation.

Hawaii is a no-fault state, which means neither partner's alleged wrongdoings can be cited as the cause for separation. Instead, the couple cite "irreconcilable differences " as the cause of the separation, and this must be proven to the court. Fault sometimes is presented during the court action to help decide issues such as division of assets and alimony.

In Hawaii, a legal separation lasts for a maximum of two years. In this case, legal separation means that no additional matrimonial action can be taken during this time and the couple may not sleep in the same bed or under the same roof. The legal separation is called a bed and board decree.

If a couple files for separation in Hawaii, the court may require one spouse to pay support to the other. This could be spousal support, child support or both. The family court decides the amount of support paid.

If one spouse cannot pay support, payment may be taken out of property the couple owns. The court attempts to be equitable in deciding whether property should be utilized or divided for support during a separation.

If the spouses do not reconcile in two years, then they can divorce. Either party may petition for a divorce while a separation decree is in effect.

Legal separation actions can take over a year to resolve, if the parties disagree about issues. A legal separation in Hawaii is not final. Spouses who want to end the marriage still have to go through divorce when the filing requirements are met.

Mediation, also known as alternative dispute resolution, is a quicker and less costly way of resolving a legal separation. A neutral third party sits down with both partners and offers opinions and suggestions as both sides make compromises. A mediator is objective; he or she may see solutions that partners do not because they are emotionally involved. In the end, with mediation, spouses have much more control over the outcome than they do in front of a family court judge.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.

Residency

The partner filing for legal separation has to have been a resident for at least three continuous months.

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