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

3 financial steps to help you prepare for divorce

If you are considering divorce, it is vital that you take certain steps to prepare yourself and your finances for your future life. While you probably expect to receive a fair amount of the property you and your husband own in Honolulu, you should still get your finances in order so that while your divorce is pending, you can still pay your bills and other living expenses.

In addition, it is important that you begin to establish a financial identity that is completely separate from your soon-to-be ex-husband's. This will be important when it comes time for you to buy a new house or car or make another purchase that requires credit.

You can fight back when your ex denies parenting time in Hawaii

One of the worst things about a divorce is how it impacts your relationship with your children. If your ex surprised you by filing for divorce, he or she may have received temporary custody of the children during the proceedings. Generally speaking, the courts will also include visitation for the other parent in a temporary custody order, as well as a requirement to pay child support.

As emotions rise and tempers flare, some parents may choose to use the children as a weapon or bargaining chip against their spouse. That could mean shortening your visitation, canceling it or simply refusing to exchange custody with you at all. Getting denied time with your children is heartbreaking, but, thankfully, you have the right to assert your parenting rights during and after a divorce in Hawaii.

2 challenges associated with a 'gray divorce'

Divorce after 50 used to be an uncommon occurrence. Perhaps this was because, in the past, the so-called "great generation" was from a different era when divorce was not really an option. These days, with more and more baby boomers retiring, we can see the effects that a different mindset has on marriage commitments. For the baby boomers of today -- who grew up during the social revolution the 60s -- getting divorced is the rational thing to do when one or more spouses don't want to be together anymore.

That said, there are unique challenges associated with a divorce after 50. Here are two of them:

Creating a parenting plan without conflict

Not fighting is a primary goal of most people going through divorce. The reality is that not all divorces are contentious, and for many, it's easy enough to come to an agreement.

If you and your soon-to-be ex are still able to be civil with one another, you may want to look into creating a parenting plan together before you go to court. If you do this, it helps you and your spouse come up with a plan that works for both your schedules. If there is a disagreement, though, you could want other options.

How do the Hawaiian courts handle homes in a divorce?

Hawaii may be paradise, but that doesn't mean that everyone who lives here ends up with that "happily ever after." Many couples living in Hawaii can find themselves facing divorce, even after long marriages.

It's only natural to worry about how the courts will handle your little piece of paradise in your divorce. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement or a very unusual situation (such as one spouse owning the home outright prior to marriage), the home you lived in is probably subject to division. Familiarizing yourself with Hawaiian divorce law can help you understand what to expect.

Budgeting after divorce: What to consider

When you decide to get a divorce, you know that you're going to have to make some financial changes. Even if your finances stay the same, the amount of bills you'll have to cover on your own may change.

The way you divide your assets also has an impact on how much you can afford and how well you can support yourself. Here are several things to consider, so you can start to budget for life after your divorce.

Protect your share of retirement assets with a QDRO

During the course of your marriage, you and your husband worked very hard to build a solid financial foundation. But, now that you are considering divorce, you will have to split the assets you have spent years accumulating and growing. For instance, you have to decide how to handle your Honolulu home. You can keep the house, take a fair amount of assets in exchange for letting your soon-to-be ex keep it or sell it and split the proceeds.

Another high-value asset you must divide are your respective retirement accounts. If the two of you accrued your retirement savings during the years you were married, you each might have a legal right to a portion of the other's 401(k) or pension plan. But if your spouse was the main breadwinner, you may be wondering how to protect your share of the money. This is where a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QRDO) comes in.

What assets are separate property in a Hawaii divorce?

For many high-income couples headed toward divorce, predicting the likely outcome of the asset division process is important. After all, how can you plan your future if you don't have any idea how your financial situation will turn out after the divorce? The courts consider many factors, including child custody and support, spousal support and both spouses' incomes when dividing assets. They attempt to secure a fair and equitable distribution of your assets.

While every divorce is inherently unique, there are certain factors that help determine the outcome of the asset division process. One of these is that, in most cases, separate property of individual spouses will not be subject to division. Only marital assets, such as income earned during your marriage, typically get divided.

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.