Sheila Vierra, Attorney at Law, LLLC
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Honolulu Hawaii Family Law Law Blog

Do you need to worry about hidden assets in your Hawaii divorce?

For many couples going through a divorce, the division of assets can prove to be the most difficult aspect of the process, other than arranging a parenting plan. Especially in situations where there is a dramatic discrepancy between the income of spouses, there may be stark disagreements about what is a fair way to divide assets, including the equity in your home and even your retirement account.

Unfortunately, wanting to feel like the "winner" in a divorce can prompt people to do things that are unethical or even illegal. One such common behavior is the attempt to hide assets from the courts to reduce how much the other spouse receives in the asset division process. Sadly, the more assets you've acquired during your marriage, the greater the potential temptation your spouse may feel to try to hide some of them.

These mistakes can cost you big in a divorce

Divorce is a lot like going to the dentist. No one really wants to do it and it's generally a very unpleasant experience, but when things get bad enough, it is often the only solution.

One of the things that makes divorce so difficult is making financial decisions in the midst of extreme emotional turmoil. It is very hard to address the process like a business transaction when you are simultaneously dealing with a flood of negative emotions. However, letting your feelings control your decisions can cost you.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you through the divorce process, from your attorney to your therapist and best friend. In addition, avoiding some common divorce mistakes can also help you walk away with a fair divorce settlement.

There are many benefits of divorce mediation

If you finally decide to push forward with the divorce process, you'll want to learn more about mediation and whether or not it's the right choice for you and your soon to be ex-spouse.

While some couples assume that litigation is the only answer, it's never a bad idea to first learn more about mediation. With so many benefits, it's possible you could find that this is the best way to put your divorce in the past.

Are there hidden assets you need to locate for your divorce?

In many divorces, the most contentious issues relate to money and children. It is not uncommon for one spouse to attempt to hide significant assets from the other. The motivation is almost always keeping them out of the courts when you divorce. If your divorce is contentious and your spouse is angry, you should consider the possibility that there could be assets that you don't currently know about.

These kinds of issues aren't just for the extremely wealthy. There are opportunities for middle-class spouses to hide assets as well. Understanding some of the common ways unscrupulous spouses hide assets during a divorce can help you locate any potential hidden assets in your house and from your marriage.

What factors impact child custody in a Hawaii divorce?

If you're considering getting a divorce in Hawaii, you may find yourself worried about the potential outcome. Maybe your spouse makes way more money or he or she has stayed home with the kids for years. Will that impact the outcome of you child custody case? If you have reason to believe your spouse will not work with you to find an amicable solution to custody, the courts will make the decision for you.

Not having direct control over something so important to the health, well-being and development of your children is nerve-wracking, to say the least. If you aren't sure how your spouse will react to service of legal divorce documents, it's natural to worry about the outcome of a custody battle.

The importance of child support in a Hawaiian divorce

Getting divorced is a difficult process. If you weren't expecting it, getting served can be a shock. You could come home and realize that your spouse has left, taking your children. Other times, you'll be the one who's expected to find somewhere else to live. Suddenly, you're only seeing your children on the weekends and even worse, you have to pay a chuck of each paycheck toward child support. It often doesn't feel fair.

Although it doesn't seem fair, the goal in divorce and family law in Hawaii is a fair outcome that considers the best interests of the children involved. Generally speaking, shared custody arrangements are much preferred by the courts, unless there's a serious history of abuse or chemical dependence. When your divorce goes to court, you will most likely get shared custody unless there is a compounding factor.

If you earn more, will that impact asset division during divorce?

Getting divorced can be a messy and frustrating process. It can be incredibly difficult to separate your life and finances from your spouse after having entangled them so completely during the marriage. After all, if you made more money, it's likely that your spouse was regularly using your income for household purchases and other necessities.

If your spouse stayed home to raise your children, you may have been the only source of income for the family. Now that divorce is imminent, you're probably wondering how the discrepancy in your income will impact the division of assets.

How do assets and debts get divided in a Hawaii divorce?

Getting divorced is stressful and unpredictable. You and your spouse may not agree on terms for your divorce. If you can't compromise and figure out how to fairly separate from one another, the courts can help. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement or feel able to set and follow specific terms for asset division, the judge that presides over your divorce will determine how your assets get divided.

In order to have the courts fairly divide your possessions and debts, you will need to create a list of all assets and debts. Certain assets, like fine art, memorabilia or antiques may require outside, professional assistance to fairly price. You may also need professional help reviewing financial records if you believe your spouse has taken steps to hide assets from you and the courts during the divorce.

What is a QDRO, and do I need one for my divorce?

If you or your spouse has a retirement plan, dividing the worth of that asset during divorce is more complicated than it may appear. It’s not a matter of simply writing, “Suzie and Joe each get half” and having the judge sign the paper.

To divide a pension plan, you need to have an official court order called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). This is a complex document with myriad provisions and requirements.

How to keep your summer from "Sizzling"

Summer is here and with it--summer vacation time. If you are a divorced parent, you may find yourself either on the end of having kids for an extended time or living with them for a few weeks.  Here are some survival skills to keep everyone happy:

If you are the one taking the kids: Communicate early and often. As soon as you know when you would like to take your kids on vacation, notify your ex. Many divorce decrees state a specific time frame--often as early as one month in advance.