Q. How much will my divorce cost?
A. Each divorce is unique, and the costs involved depend on a variety of factors, including the amount of property to classify and divide, if there is a family business to valuate, whether child custody and support matters must be resolved, and the extent to which these issues are contested by the divorcing spouses. Attorney Sheila Vierra has experience handling all of these issues, allowing her to minimize the time it takes to complete a divorce. For an estimate on the cost of your divorce, contact us today.
Q. How will our property be distributed during our divorce?
A. In Hawaii, either the spouses can negotiate a division of property and assignment of debts, or the courts will order an enforceable equitable distribution of property and debts. In equitable distribution, property is divided based on what the court deems "fair," which is not necessarily the same as equal. The court divides property based on numerous factors, including the source of each asset, the appreciation of premarital and gifted assets during the divorce and the application of Hawaii statutory and case law regarding property division. A qualified family law attorney can advocate for a division that will protect your interests.
Q. What will happen to my child after my divorce?
A. In divorces between spouses that have children, the court will award custody to either one or both parents, depending on what is in the best interest of the children. A parent who does not have physical custody is generally awarded visitation rights. Both parents are usually required to financially support their children; the amount each parent owes is determined by application of the Hawaii Child Support Guidelines. Child support calculation begin by inserting each parent’s gross monthly income from all sources and certain variable expenses for the children onto the Hawaii Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and following the guidelines’ instructions for calculating the amount for which each parent is responsible.
Q. Will my business or my spouse's business be affected by our divorce?
A. When a business is jointly owned by divorcing spouses, it may be sold or liquidated and the proceeds divided. Often one spouse may be awarded the business and continue to run it and the other spouse will receive a property settlement or property equalization payment for his/her share in the value of the business.
How the business is valued depends on which valuation method the court chooses to apply taking into account Hawaii appellate case law regarding business valuation issues. Different valuation methods may consider the business's equity, inventory, future profits, goodwill, or spouse's contributions, resulting in vastly different values. An experienced attorney can advocate for the method that will best protect your interests.
Q. I am a homemaker and haven't worked in years; will my spouse be required to support me after our divorce?
A. Possibly. The judge must consider 13 factors set out in Hawaii law in deciding whether or not to award spousal support, including:
- The respective spouses' financial resources
- Ability of the spouses to meet their needs independently
- The spouses' standard of living
- The spouses' occupations during marriage
- The probable duration of any support
In most cases, the court is more likely to order spousal support if a spouse did not work during the marriage and cannot support his or herself, or any children, and will have trouble reentering the workforce due to lack of skills or advanced age. Courts are also more likely to award spousal support on a temporary basis, with the expectation that the receiving spouse will eventually become self-sufficient.
This page is designed to help you achieve a basic understanding of common issues faced in a divorce. However, each specific case is unique, involving a range of different legal dilemmas. For dedicated representation in your divorce, contact Sheila Vierra, Attorney At Law, LLLC, today.