Hawaii Divorce Guide

Annulment

Based on state law, a divorce is when the court ends a stick-shock2legal marriage. In an annulment, the court determines that there never was or should have been a marriage (this is known as a nullity). Annulment is more difficult to have ruled in your favor, because you must provide evidence that convinces the judge that certain events happened and the time they occurred. Divorces ordinarily are no fault, no-contest affairs. A petition for a marriage annulment is more challenging than a divorce, in that the petitioner must meet a stricter test in proving grounds for the annulment request.

Acceptable grounds for an annulment include:
  • one or both parties had not attained the legal age of marriage (18)
  • the husband had an undivorced wife living, or the wife had an undivorced husband living
  • incestuous marriage – the couple is too closely related to each other as ancestor or descendant of any degree, including half-brothers and half-sisters, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew
  • one of the parties lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage
  • consent to the marriage was obtained by force, duress, fraud
  • concealment of something important e.g. one of the parties was a sufferer of or afflicted with any loathsome disease and the fact was concealed from, and unknown to, the party applying for annulment
AnnulmentIf any of these apply to your situation, you can file a petition (a complaint) for annulment in the family court of the circuit court in which you live. At least one of you must have been a resident for 3 months just prior to filing.

Your complaint will contain allegations that if proven, will cause the court to grant the annulment. If your spouse is agreeable to the annulment, you will want to complete the necessary forms together e.g. Petition to Annul Marriage with No Children or Property. If your spouse is agreeable to the action but will not complete the paperwork with you, s/he can complete form A03 Appearance and Waiver , which acknowledges the complaint for annulment and tells the court that the person does not object to the action (uncontested).

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorce forms here

In the event your spouse is unwilling or unable to choose either option above, you must take your completed paperwork to the circuit court for filing. From your filing, the court clerk will prepare paperwork to have your spouse served notice of the action. A process server must be involved, and there will be an expense for that.

Once your spouse is served, s/he has 20 days to respond to the court. Should your spouse fail to respond within 20 days, you become eligible for a default judgment (you get most or all of what you have requested of the court).

If your spouse responds within 20 days, a hearing will be set. The court can issue orders restricting you both from spending money (other than normal living expenses) or selling assets until the matter is settled. The court may require that you both submit a financial statement.

Grandparents: Make sure you file your petition on time

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

If you are successful in proving one of the grounds mentioned above, the court will grant the annulment. The court declares that the marriage never existed, or never should have existed, and you each become single again, able to marry again (although we cannot imagine anyone jumping back in so quickly).

You may be disappointed with the outcome

If you are hoping for alimony or a division of property with the annulment, you may be disappointed. Many Hawaiian courts do not have the authority to do so. Alimony is the payment from one former spouse to another, and since you have made the marriage void, you are no longer ex-spouses. An exception to these rules may be when a fraud was perpetrated and proven. The court can order restitution or just allowance for the support of the deceived spouse and family.

Prohibited marriages include: between ancestor and descendant, any degree, brother and sister half or whole-blood, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew legitimate or illegitimate; bigamous; same sex.

[Based on Hawaii Code Title 580 – Chapters: 21-29; 572-1, 2]

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