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Honolulu Family Law Blog

How property is divided in divorce

Divorcing couples in Hawaii might approach the issue of property division with some confusion about how the law decides which spouse gets what. Though some states divide marital property equally on the basis of community property law, Hawaii uses the legal theory of equitable property division. While community property states divide property in a 50-50 split, equitable division means a fair division that is not necessarily equal.

Judges weigh many factors into the decisions of property division. Formulas are used and include each spouse's income and other numbers, but judges also weigh arguments and consider factors that are more personal. In an equitable division state, there is more room for individual considerations since the division is not required to be mathematically equal.

How can I help my kids adjust to my divorce?

Your divorce is inevitably a time of change for everyone in your family, and it will take time for each family member to adjust. However, there are some actions you can take as a parent to help make sure your children have as easy of a transition as possible.

Explain the situation in a way your children will understand

Creating a parenting schedule during divorce

Hawaii parents who are facing divorce may need to make a parenting schedule that outlines when the child will spend time with each of them. They should not think of this as a document that involves winning or losing and should not try to use it to undermine one another. Instead, the parenting schedule should serve its purpose of ensuring that the child keeps a relationship with both of them.

Parents should try to imagine themselves in their children's place and what would be important to them in that situation. If they have older children, those kids might have some input into the schedule. Convenience should not be a priority for parents, but they should think about their child's schedule. They should also consider logistics like the distance of their homes from one another and how close each lives to the school.

How might finances impact a divorce?

There are plenty of reasons to get divorced, and it's the sometimes best option for couples to move on. Some experts, however, say that economic realities might make it prudent to reassess the situation. Hawaiians may find it helpful to plan for their finances when considering divorce.

According to one finance specialist, couples who split can face unexpected expenses. For example, those who want to keep their homes might have to do so with significantly reduced incomes, and their bills aren't guaranteed to decrease. On the other hand, those who sell the marital home too hastily might run into unscrupulous buyers who try to take advantage of them. This possibility is particularly relevant for divorcees who rush to sell in an attempt to put their old lives behind them.

The benefits of joint physical custody

Parents in Hawaii who are considering divorce will likely need to think about how they will handle child custody. There are some that might argue that it's in the children's best interests for the mother to have full custody. They argue that, especially for toddlers and infants, overnight care with the fathers can lead to major issues.

However, data seems to indicate that these beliefs are unfounded. Recent studies have analyzed how joint custody and single-parent custody affects children, including infants and toddlers. The conclusion time and time again shows that shared parenting is usually better for the kids. The idea that infants or toddlers would fare badly if they spent the night with their father does not line up with a modern understanding of how children develop.

How debt can affect a marriage

Some Hawaii couples may be among the more than 50 percent who have debt when they go into a relationship. In a study by Fidelity, 40 percent of them said their relationship was negatively affected by this debt. Communication suffers and couples fight more when they are in debt, and often each person thinks it is the responsibility of the other.

There are a few steps couples can take to try to avoid these issues. Debt can overwhelming, but people need to know how much they owe before they can begin paying it down. It is not uncommon for people to underestimate how much in debt they are with both credit cards and student loans. Couples who sit down and have a conversation about debt can also decide what kind of method they want to use to pay the debt. The "snowball" method involves starting by paying off the smallest debts. This can be psychologically motivating. The "avalanche" method starts with the debt that has the highest interest rate.

What are the benefits of mediation in divorce?

Divorces can be extremely difficult for everyone involved. Unfortunately, families can be further torn apart in divorces that end up in court. As a result, many families are choosing to settle their divorces outside of court through an alternative dispute resolution process known as “mediation.”

In a mediated divorce, a third-party mediator will help a divorcing couple make decisions on various issues. It is important for a mediator to help the couple reach decisions that they both agree upon.

How practicing gratitude, even in divorce can benefit you

Practicing gratitude is something you hear a lot of people preaching. When you sit down and think about it, many of us have a long list of things we are thankful for, but it’s easy forget.

When a couple is going through a divorce, the process placed significant focus on what is lost: the house, the car, time with loved ones. It is possible however, in all of that loss, to think about what you have and what the future may bring. In fact, it will likely benefit you.

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