How to File for Divorce in Hawaii

How to file divorce in Hawaii

You must follow a series of legal processes and procedures when you file for divorce in Hawaii. If you don’t, you’ll experience delays, extra costs, and frustrations while you prepare for your case.

Here are some of the important things to know as part of the Hawaiian divorce filing process.

What information do I need to prepare for divorce?

important information

The best way to save time and aggravation in a divorce is to be organized and thorough. Pulling together the information you’ll need to make your best case can take quite a while, so it’s best to start early.

In fact, it may be wise to gather information before you even make your spouse aware of your intentions so that they can’t torpedo your efforts by hiding information once you make your intentions known.

To see what information you’ll need, we’ve prepared a Divorce Information Checklist. You can access it as part of our article, The Ultimate Divorce Checklist: The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.

How to determine the type of divorce that’s right for you

Divorce Procedure to Use

You can approach your divorce several possible ways. What method you decide is driven in large part by your levels of trust and cooperation with your spouse, and the types of issues you need to resolve.

Just like every divorce is different, every process and method are slightly different, too from case to case.

Check out our article What Are the Types of Divorce to get a much better understanding of what your options are before you make a final decision.

What forms do I need to complete for a divorce in Hawaii?

Necessary Forms to Prepare

To start a divorce in Hawaii, at a minimum the plaintiff will need to file a Complaint for Divorce, Summons to Answer Complaint, and Matrimonial Action Information Sheet.

Additional forms may be required based on your circumstances.

Forms will vary from island to island so make sure you access the appropriate forms for your specific island of residency:

  • You can access Oahu forms here.
  • You can access Maui, Molokai or Lanai forms here.
  • You can access Big Island of Hawaii forms here.
  • You can access Kauai forms here.

How do I file my forms with the court?

How Do You File Your Forms for a Divorce

Once your forms are complete, you will file them with the Family Court at the district courthouse in the jurisdiction where you or your spouse lives. You must file these forms in person and pay a filing fee to start your divorce process.

How do I serve my spouse with divorce papers?

After your forms have been filed with the court, you must notify your spouse of your intention to divorce them. In Hawaii, this is accomplished in several possible ways.

You can have a person 18 or older who is not a party to the divorce deliver the paperwork. You can also hire a process server or have a sheriff’s deputy complete service for you.

Some people prefer to complete service through the use of registered or certified mail. This is often used when a spouse has moved out of the state.

If these methods don’t work or you can’t find your spouse, you can initiate service by publication. With the court’s approval, you will run a legal notice in a local paper and this will meet the requirement.

After filing, what are the steps for getting a divorce in Hawaii?

As you file paperwork with the court, you must complete proof of service by having the paperwork legally served on your spouse. You can accomplish this through a process server, a sheriff’s deputy, registered or certified mail, or service by publication.

You will submit an affidavit with the court to verify that this important step has been completed.

Your spouse will then have 20 days to file an answer with the court. If they don’t comply, you can seek a default judgment.

If you can work out all issues in advance, you can be granted a divorce in about 6-10 weeks, depending on the court’s backlog. If you don’t agree on all issues, you’ll need to negotiate those issues either on your own, or with the help of an attorney.

When you can’t reach an agreement, you will need to go to trial and present evidence and testimony in front of a judge. The judge will decide the issues and render a final settlement.

More FAQs about Getting Divorced in Hawaii

How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Hawaii?

cost to file for a divorce

For an uncontested divorce without children, filing fees are $215. If either party has minor children from their current marriage or any other relationship, you will need to pay an additional $50 fee for a Parenting Education class, bringing the total to $265.

You may also be required to pay other associated fees, depending on your case.

Read More: How Much Does Divorce Cost?

Can divorce fees be waived?

You may be able to have fees waived by requesting a review by the court. To do so, file an Ex Parte Motion and Affidavit to Waive Filing Fees. If the judge agrees with your request you won’t have to pay filing fees for your case.

Can I file for divorce online?

divorce online

No. You can work with an online service or a private Hawaiian-based attorney to complete paperwork but you will need to physically file documents at your county Family Court to start the process.

Our favorite resource for a fast and effective online divorce is: 3 Step Divorce.

3 Step Divorce checks all the boxes that make an online divorce worthwhile.

They aim to make it easy – and they certainly deliver.

From step-by-step instructions to unlimited live support, here are just a few of the reasons why 3 Step is our #1 recommended online divorce resource:

  • Affordable
    • $299 flat-fee with no hidden charges
  • Flexible
    • Monthly payment options as low as $84/mo
  • Fast
    • Initial questionnaire takes less than 1 hour
  • Informative
    • Library of free tools and resources
  • Supportive
    • Unlimited access to support agents by phone or email
  • Instantaneous
    • Immediate access to completed forms
  • Guaranteed
    • Assurance of 100% court-approval (or your money back!)

3 Step Divorce Rating

You can learn more by reading our 3StepDivorce review.

Better yet, you can Start Your 3 Step Divorce NOW (as low as $84/month).

Can I file for divorce without a lawyer?

file for divorce without a lawyer

Yes. You do not need an attorney in Hawaii to handle your divorce case. Depending on your circumstances, legal representation might be a smart move to protect your interests.

What are the residency requirements for getting a divorce in Hawaii?

Either you or your spouse must have lived in Hawaii for six months immediately preceding when you file for divorce. You must also have lived in the county where you file for at least three months before filing as well.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Hawaii? What is the timeline?

How long does it take

With an uncontested divorce, after you file paperwork, your spouse has 20 days to file an answer with the court. If both of you agree on terms for a settlement, then it takes the courts about 6-10 weeks to review your case and approve your final divorce decree.

If only one of you wants an uncontested divorce, it can result in a 60-day delay.

When you go through mediation or a collaborative divorce, the process can easily take 4-6 months or more, depending on your issues and how quickly you can resolve them.

Litigated divorces, especially those that go to trial, can take as long as two years or even longer, depending on how much animosity there is and how complex the issues are.

Can I file for divorce in Hawaii while I am pregnant?

divorce while I am pregnant

You can file for divorce, but most judges will not allow you to get a divorce until after the baby is born. At that time, you can handle issues such as child support and child custody at the same time as your other divorce matters.

Under Hawaiian law, the husband is considered to be the legal father of any child born during the marriage.

If a child born during the marriage is not the husband’s child, paternity must be established before the divorce process can start. If paternity is not established, the husband will remain the legal father, and will still be legally responsible for the child.

To start a paternity action before the divorce proceeding, contact the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) or a private attorney.

If I’m in the military, how does that affect filing for divorce?


If you or your spouse are in the armed forces, you can get a divorce in Hawaii if you live in the state or you’ve been present in the state for a continuous period of six months. If you’re stationed in Hawaii, you are included in this requirement.

As an alternative, if you and your spouse are separated by deployment, then you can file in the state where either of you live, as long as both parties agree to it.

You will need to file your case in the Family Court of the island where you have lived for at least three months.

While many issues are handled the same as they are in civilian divorces, there are a few notable differences.

For example, child custody and visitation issues can be more complicated due to relocation or deployment orders. Child support is determined the same way as it is for civilian cases, using the Income Shares Model.

Also, pursuant to the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) of 1982, active-duty members are afforded certain protections.

For example, a military spouse can request a delay in divorce proceedings so that his or her military duties are not impacted. Legal action can be delayed when he or she is on active duty plus 60 days beyond the end of his or her enlistment.

The USFSPA also governs how military pensions are disbursed and whether or not a former military spouse has full medical and commissary privileges.

For this to happen, the former spouse must have been married at least 20 years; the military spouse had at least 20 years of creditable service, and those two overlapped by at least 20 years.

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