In Hawaii, divorce courts divide marital properties between spouses fairly and equitably. Generally, this means assets spouses own before the marriage or acquire as a gift or inheritance are the original owner’s since they are non-marital properties. This also applies to debts and similar obligations.
However, there are instances wherein courts include non-marital assets in the property division.
During marriages, it is common for spouses to mix their separate properties together, whether it is using one spouse’s personal funds to renovate the marital home or the other spouse using their partner’s personal bank account to make deposits. This concept is known as “commingling.”
While it may seem harmless during a marriage, it does have an impact on property division in a divorce. When spouses mix properties together, marital and non-marital, it becomes difficult to ascertain which is which during the divorce proceedings. Consequently, courts can treat those properties as marital, regardless of whether one of the spouses solely owns it, and can add them to the pool of assets to distribute equitably.
The court’s discretion
Just because spouses practice commingling, it does not mean the courts will automatically treat mixed properties as marital. It is still a case-by-case basis and the judge will consider the unique facts and circumstances of the situation. In most cases, spouses can submit proof that certain properties are separate and should be excluded from the property division.
Navigating property division
Property division can be complicated and overwhelming. Nevertheless, having a trusted legal guidance can help you navigate the complex issues in this process and ultimately protect your rights and future.