Property Division

mitsuyama + rebman lllc

Hawaii's property division scheme is based on the Partnership Model but it is technically Equitable Division. This means that there are certain rules that are literally modeled after the business partnership rules, but the court can deviate from certain of those rules when equity (fairness) calls for that. 

As a practical matter, this means that divorcing couples do not have a firm outline to follow. The basic principle is that everything accruing or owing from the start to the end of the marriage is divided equally, except for gifts and inheritances which may be treated differently. The court may or may not decide that 50/50 is fair based on the legal factors found in Hawaii Revised Statutes Sec. 580-47.

Those legal factors are not always what they appear: the "respective merits of the parties" does not mean "who behaves badly and who is nice." The focus should be on the other legal factors, particularly the situation in which each party will be left after the divorce is final. Family Court is a court of equity, and the court will be looking for fairness. This definitely does not mean that each of you leaves with 50% of the assets or debts, just that the court will review everyone's situation if there is no agreement on property division.