We ‘Wrote The Book’ On Divorce In Hawaii
The attorneys, paraprofessionals and staff of Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson (“C&F”), Hawaii’s largest Family law firm, recognize that our Island State is made up of many cultures, traditions and languages, each with its own needs for the various types of legal assistance in all the different areas of Family Law. These include empathetic representation in difficult matters of Divorce, Domestic Abuse (including Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs), Paternity, Mediation, etc. They also include a necessary ability to assist our many Asian clients in their native languages.
In response, and to better meet these needs, Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson has created Special Practice Groups in the following areas:
Young Japanese and other Asian couples now face a high divorce rate, very similar to their American counterparts. Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson‘s Asian Languages Practice Group is led by Micky Yamatani who graduated from Punahou School, University of Michigan (B.A.) and U.H. William S. Richardson School of Law (J.D.) and was admitted to the Hawaii Bar in 1990. Ms. Yamatani was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for both the County of Maui and City and County of Honolulu handling misdemeanors and family cases including juvenile felony prosecutions, and also jury trials on domestic violence cases. From 1996 to 2017, she ran her own successful private practice working on civil litigation, estate planning and family law cases. In 2007, Ms. Yamatani obtained a renowned jury verdict in a sexual harassment case in the amount of $1.3 million following a 3-week jury trial where she represented a young woman who was a victim of both physical and emotional abuse by her employer.
This uniquely focused group also includes Ann Isobe, Esq., who is a true “veteran” family court practitioner having spent 29 years practicing law here in Hawaii, including 19 of those years as a divorce and family law specialist. Our firm was honored recently when Ms. Isobe was selected as a per diem judge for Hawaii’s District Court. Joining Ms. Yamatani and Ms. Isobe in this group is Tom Tanimoto, Esq. Tom is also a very experienced attorney who is completely fluent in Japanese and also speaks conversational Korean. Mr. Tanimoto served in the prestigious position of Chair of the Family Law Section of the Hawaii State Bar for 2018. Another experienced attorney in this group is Robert Young, Esq. Bob is of Chinese ancestry and has been practicing divorce and family law here in Hawaii for over 39 years.
This Group also employs paraprofessionals/secretaries as part of our regular C&F staff who have Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Filipino language speaking backgrounds. So in addition to our Asian attorneys, we also have several very experienced Asian paralegals and legal secretaries who skillfully assist those attorneys every step of the way. In fact, the paralegal who leads this group, Ms. Shannon Kim, is herself an attorney who is awaiting her Hawaii licensure. Shannon has extensive legal training herself having earned her own law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. Ms. Kim is of full Korean ancestry and speaks, reads and writes fluently in Korean. Because Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson also regularly employs other multi-lingual support staff, we are able to maintain translation services available for numerous other languages including Korean, Samoan, several Micronesian languages, etc.
Domestic Abuse Team
Experienced trial attorney Noah Gibson is another crucial member of our Domestic Abuse Team. Noah has practiced law in the State of Hawaii since 2010. He is a third generation Hawaii attorney who graduated from Punahou School, University of Michigan and U.H. William S. Richardson School of Law. Mr. Gibson began his legal career as the law clerk for Judges Michael Town, Steven Alm and Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Judge Michael Wilson. Then Noah worked with the Office of the Public Defender in Kona for several years. Upon returning to Oahu, he worked as a litigator for the City and County of Honolulu Corporation Counsel and also as a private criminal defense attorney prior to joining Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson.
Attorney Robert Young is a Kamehameha Schools and U.H. Law graduate who during the last 38 years has been employed as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu, a Deputy Attorney General for the State of Hawaii, a Legal Aid attorney specializing in family law, and as the in-house attorney for the Carpenter’s Union. Almost all of these positions have involved the handling of literally hundreds of Family Law and/or criminal prosecution/defense matters and these have always been Bob’s preferred areas of practice. Bob has been one our lead attorneys here at Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson for the last 7 years.
Rounding out our Domestic Abuse Team is Attorney Micky Yamatani. She graduated from Punahou School, University of Michigan (B.A.) and U.H. William S. Richardson School of Law (J.D.) was admitted to the Hawaii Bar in 1990. Micky was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for both the County of Maui and City and County of Honolulu handling misdemeanor, family and juvenile felony prosecutions as well as jury trials on domestic violence cases. From 1996 to 2017, she ran her own successful private practice working on civil litigation, estate planning and family law cases. In 2007, Ms. Yamatani obtained a renowned jury verdict in a sexual harassment case in the amount of $1.3 million following a 3-week jury trial where she represented a young woman who was a victim of both physical and emotional abuse by her employer.
Taken collectively, the four attorneys in our DAT team have over 8 decades of “lawyering experience”…and fully 45 of those years have been specifically focused on the criminal, and/or quasi criminal, prosecution, and/or defense, of domestic abuse/TRO cases.
Our firm’s founder Brad Coates, Esq. has been an experienced and highly trained veteran mediator since 1986. Together with his team of skilled mediators, Mr. Coates has mediated literally hundreds of divorce and family law cases, under the trade name Divorce with Decency: A Mediation Clinic. Divorce with Decency is also the title for Brad’s award winning book “Divorce with Decency: The Complete How-To Handbook and Survivor’s Guide to the Legal, Emotional, Economic, and Social Issues”. The firm’s Managing Attorney P. Gregory Frey is also in this group as a highly trained and experienced mediator. Greg obtained a M.A. in Psychology in 2002 in order to help him better empathize with the stresses faced by divorcing parties. This team’s final member John Hughes, Esq. who ran his own mediation practice prior to joining Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson 11 years ago.
Mediation has been shown to be extremely successful-having a track record of resolving approximately 80% of all the cases it handles. Much more amicable, economical and expeditious than litigation, mediation takes a very streamlined approach to quickly bringing the parties in the dispute physically together and starting them talking. They sit down in the same room with the mediator and/or other advisors and work on trying to settle their own case. And it works!!! Mediation has proven particularly worthwhile in the divorce and child custody contexts.
Military Practice Group
The firm’s Military Practice Group is led by John Hughes, Esq., who is a graduate of Punahou School, Texas Christian University and Baylor University. He also ran his own practice prior to joining Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson. This group also includes attorneys Paul Soenksen and Tom Tanimoto, all of whose bios are contained herein. Mr. Tanimoto maintains a special focus and experience level on the numerous complex issues which surround the allocation of military retirement.
Approximately one-third of all the divorces filed in Hawaii are for military personnel, and over the years Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson has handled literally thousands of family law matters for military members and their spouses. Our office is completely familiar with all the various intricacies and nuances which are involved in the unique sub-specialty areas surrounding military divorces, etc.
Military benefits and retirement are marital property, and both are generally subject to adjudication in state courts. Spouses of marriages that last through 10 years or more of military service can also gain substantial advantages in the pay out and enforcement mechanisms of pension awards. Former spouses of marriages that lasted through at least 20 years of active military service are generally entitled to continuing commissary, medical, and PX benefits. Thus, military dependent spouses shouldn’t be too hasty with processing their divorce if they are approaching a 10- or 20-year mark.
Paternity Practice Group
Our firm’s “rising star” attorney Noah Gibson leads the office’s Paternity Practice Group. Noah’s bio is included herein as part of the office’s Domestic Abuse Team. Joining Mr. Gibson in the firm’s Paternity Practice Group is our Senior Counsel Paul Soenksen. Mr. Soenksen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Hawaii and then the Hastings School of Law. Paul has been with the firm for over 22 years and is one of our office’s most skilled trial attorneys. This group also includes experienced paternity attorneys Ann Isobe and Tom Tanimoto. (Brief bios on Mr. Tanimoto and Ms. Isobe are also contained herein.)
An astounding 40% of all U.S. births nowadays are to unmarried women. This is the highest number ever. (In Hawaii, about 41% of all children are born out of wedlock and 51% of mothers under 30 are unmarried.) In fact, there has been a significant increase in the rate at which kids are being born to unwed parents even while both birth rates and divorce rates are declining overall. Issues relating to custody and child support for these kids are processed through the Family Court system on its rapidly expanding paternity calendar. Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson has handled literally hundreds of paternity cases over the last 40+ years and we are intimately familiar with, and skilled at, handling all types of paternity cases.