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Can the courts split property in another state during a divorce?

Living in Hawaii can be incredibly expensive, and not all families live here year-round. Owning real estate in other states can afford you the opportunity to travel while still having a home in Hawaii. It may also allow you to avoid the worst seasons in each state, such as the Midwest winter or the rainy season.  

Unfortunately, those interstate assets can lead to a lot of confusion if you or your spouse decide to file for divorce. The family courts in Hawaii have the authority to divide your property if you don’t reach a settlement agreement on your own. You may wonder if that authority only applies to your property in Hawaii, or does it apply to what you and your spouse own in other states?

The residence of the divorcing couple is what matters

The legal term used to describe an issue that an entity, such as the court, has authority over is jurisdiction. As for family law proceedings, a judge’s authority only applies in the jurisdiction in which a couple maintains their primary residence, not in all the different locations where they have their various assets. Property in other states, including real estate physically located elsewhere and accounts held in even international banks, are subject to division in a divorce. 

As long as you have lived in Hawaii for six months and claimed your address here as your primary residence, you can theoretically file for a divorce here in our family courts system. The judge presiding over your case will have the authority to issue orders regarding the custody of your children and the distribution of your property, even if that property isn’t physically in Hawaii.