A number of people split their time between Hawaii and the mainland, with homes in both places. If you’re one of these people and you are considering filing for divorce, how do you know whether or not you have the option to file here in Hawaii?
Under state law, one or both of the divorcing spouses must have been “domiciled or physically present” in Hawaii for at least six consecutive months before filing their Complaint of Divorce in family court. Further, the spouse who actually files the papers must do so in the circuit where they live. In most cases, this means on the same island, unless you live on one of the smaller islands.
What about military personnel?
If a spouse is stationed in Hawaii on a military base, “federal base, installation, or reservation,” that counts as being domiciled here for purposes of divorce. (The same rules apply to annulment or legal separation).
You don’t need to have been married in Hawaii (or even in the U.S.) to divorce here. Further, one spouse can seek a divorce even if the other doesn’t want one. You also don’t need “grounds” or “fault” to divorce. You just need to attest that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
If you’re debating whether to file for divorce here in Hawaii or in another state where you have a residence, it’s wise to look at that other state’s domiciliary requirements as well as the family laws in both states. Doing this and seeking experienced legal guidance can help you determine where your interests would be better served.