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Hawaii Family Law Blog

Updating your estate plans after your divorce

The completion of your divorce proceedings in Hawaii may bring with it a good deal of relief. This comes from assuming that the whole ordeal is over. In reality, however, there may still be much work to do. Officially separating your spouse from your life may require revisiting several important matters. One of these is the administration of your estate. Revising a will is something many forget to do following a divorce, which prompts many to come to us here at Coates Trey Tanimoto & Gibson, AAL, LLC concerned their loved ones failed to do that very thing before they died. 

Their concern is whether their loved ones' ex-spouses now stand to inherit their estates. If you share the same concern, you should take comfort in knowing that the state understands that people often forget to think about this particular task following their divorces. Thus, it has created laws to compensate for this forgetfulness. 

Is it possible to modify a custody arrangement?

Parents have the right to petition Hawaii family courts to adjust court orders established during their divorce. For example, one parent can ask for a modification of their child support payments if they lose their job and income.

It is also possible to revise a custody arrangement. However, there are specific circumstances and factors necessary to make this kind of modification.

Making vacation plan as a blended family with custody orders

When you have divorced and enter into a new relationship, you will become part of a blended family if you have children. You need to think carefully about certain aspects of life when this happens because you now have what can be thought of as two families. Vacation planning can sometimes be a nightmare as you and your spouse both have children from other relationships that you want to bring.

Your first step when you are taking a vacation as a blended family is to look at the custody agreement for all children involved. You need to make note of anything in the order that might impact what you are doing for the vacation. This can be the scheduling, geographical restrictions or any other matter.

Unwed fathers can actively seek paternity rights

According to the law, a baby born to a married couple in Hawaii has two legal parents. However, if the couple is not married, only the mother has legal parenthood. If you wish to claim fatherhood of your child legally, there are additional steps. At Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson, our team has experience assisting fathers in establishing paternity of their children.

According to the Department of the Attorney General Child Support Enforcement agency, your child can benefit from having paternity established in a number of ways:

  • Having a parent-child relationship provides emotional, financial and moral support.
  • Children may qualify for benefits such as veterans, Hawaiian ethnicity, health insurance and Social Security.
  • Children can inherit property and other assets from their legal father.
  • There is a sense of belonging when children know both parents and their families.
  • Adding dad’s name to the birth certificate allows a child unfettered access to the family medical history.

Filing for divorce when your spouse wants to remain married

Sometimes, marriages fall apart and both spouses agree that the time to file for divorce has come. However, there may also be disagreement in this regard, especially if one person wants the marriage to continue. If you and your spouse cannot agree that divorce is best, but you are determined to bring the marriage to an end, it is pivotal to stand up for your right to separate from your marital partner, especially if you are in the middle of a toxic marriage.

Unfortunately, some people stay in marriages that are not in their best interests because they feel pressured to do so, or they are worried about the problems that could arise if they decide to move forward with a divorce. For those who have kids, this can be even more difficult, especially if the children do not want their parents to split up. Our law office realizes how complex and emotional these situations can be, but it is pivotal for people to do what is necessary in life, even if that means bringing their marriage to a close.

Planning for parenting style disagreements

Parenting styles differ from one person to the next. When you divorce, there is a good chance that your ways aren't going to be the same as your ex. This can become a problem, but it doesn't always have to be.

You and your ex can make the conscious decision to work together to come up with a plan that provides the children with stability and still allows each parent to use their own parenting styles. This might not be easy but it can benefit the kids.

Reviewing the issue of parental relocation

Given Hawaii's reputation as a tropical paradise, many might question why you would ever want to move away. Yet as many of those that we here at Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson, AAL, LLC have worked with, the memories connected to a divorce can quickly turn a perceived paradise into a bleak scenario. You may rightly think that moving away will help both you, your ex-spouse and your children move on from your divorce. Yet that can be complicated when the matter of custody comes up. 

Moving to another island may still allow your ex-spouse to maintain consistent contact with your kids. Relocating to another state, however, may make it next to impossible for you both to fulfill your current custody arrangement. Once you have expressed a desire to relocate, the court will review your reasons for doing so. These will be weighed against the best interests of your children. Reasons that can support your decision to relocate may be: 

  • Getting your children away from any physical or emotional abuse they may be suffering at the hands of your ex-spouse
  • Moving to an area that affords them better educational opportunities 
  • Being closer to members of your extended family 

Set the standard for your co-parenting relationship

Co-parenting isn't always easy, but there are some things that you can do to make the situation a bit easier. One thing that sometimes makes the circumstances more difficult is when your emotions come into the picture. By finding ways that you can address all of this, you might be able to de-stress your life so that you are able to move forward with your parenting.

When you think about what points in the co-parenting relationship bother you the most, you may realize that there are specific issues that always cause a reaction. Determining how you will respond to them can give you a plan to fall back on. Because there are some co-parenting issues that seem to be the root of many contentious situations, anyone with this type of arrangement might benefit from these suggestions.

Can I still do a pre-nuptial agreement after marriage?

Can you get a prenuptial agreement after you are legally married? Technically, no. Once everything is official, there is no longer any way to create a prenup for that marriage. There is, however, a very similar type of contract you might want to consider.

This term for this so-called postnup is "marital agreement" in Hawaii law. These documents are similar in many ways to prenups, but you should know that there are a few key differences.

Getting a fair portion of the equity in your Hawaiian home

For most married couples, the home that they live in while married is the biggest asset that they own. Depending on the location of the property, real estate in Hawaii can be worth an incredible amount of money. Even modest homes in the right location carry substantial price tags.

Properties can accrue value over the length of your marriage, and the market value of your home can go up as demand increases the price for homes on the local market. Anyone facing the likely end of their marriage would be wise to think about the property values in Hawaii and how that will affect their financial circumstances after the divorce. Making the right choices now will lay the foundation for a better future.

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