Some types of property, such as Separate Property acquired either before or during the marriage may be exempt from inclusion in a couple’s total assets. Separate Property includes anything owned by one spouse, usually by way of a written agreement (such as a premarital agreement or marital contract), that designates that property remain the property of only the spouse who owned it before marriage or received it during the marriage.

Separate Property must also be maintained and funded through resources other than regular marital assets and income. As a result of these significant limitations, this property is protected against being divided in a divorce, but also has strict requirements to remain in this category.

Regardless of your specific situation, the family law division at PMK, led by Senior Associate Seth Harris, is available to guide you through a seamless division of property.

PMK Partner R. Laree McGuire spoke with Jane Sugimura on ThinkTech Hawaii’s Condo Insider on January 14, 2021. McGuire discussed holding condo meetings in a pandemic – virtual meetings via your computer or phone.

Marital assets that may be included in division of assets in the event of a divorce can be anything that has a dollar value such as:

  • Bank accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.)
  • A home or other real property
  • Vehicles
  • Business interests
  • Life insurance policies with a cash value
  • Retirement accounts or pensions
  • Personal property such as furniture, tools and other household effects

Conversely, debts that may be included are anything with a negative dollar value such as:

  • Car loans
  • Mortgages
  • Business loans
  • Student loans
  • Lines of credit
  • Credit card debt

Partnership Property is any other property that is not Separate Property (See our blog on What may be Exempt from Marital Assets), which for most couples is all or almost all of the property they own. Every asset and debt owned by one of both spouses that is not Separate Property is included in the Marital Estate, regardless of how or when each party received it. Each spouse receives a credit for the value of any property they owned prior to the marriage and for any property they received solely during the marriage as a gift or inheritance.

Any increase in the value of premarital or gifted/inherited property is divided 50/50. After accounting for the credits each party receives, the rest of the marital assets are divided so that each side receives approximately one-half each.

Regardless of your specific situation, the family law division at PMK, led by Senior Associate Seth Harris, is available to guide you through a seamless division of property.

In the next blog, learn what may be exempt from inclusion in marital assets.

COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of our daily lives, even our court systems. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the situation in the First Circuit Family Court has been highly fluid. Here are the latest updates:

Family Court proceedings are conducted from the Kapolei Judiciary Complex and at the Honolulu District Courthouse by Cisco Webex or by telephone. Recently, the First Circuit Court of Hawai’i allowed that some proceedings, such as trials, extended hearings, and settlement conferences, may resume in person with approval of the court.

In the event of an in person-hearing, you will be required to follow all safety protocol such as entering the courthouse no more than 15 minutes before the hearing, wearing a mask, and submitting to a temperature check. You will also be subject to the state of Hawai’i’s quarantine and testing protocol following out of state travel.

Court filings must still be completed either in person at the Honolulu District Court on Alakea Street and Kapolei Judiciary (or other facilities identified by state judiciary) or by mail in ample time for the court to process the documents prior to the trial. Filing window and filing room hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:15  p.m.

Regardless of your situation, Seth Harris, senior associate at the PMK family law division, can provide an experienced, compassionate counsel to guide you through any family court proceeding.

A divorce judge begins the division of assets process by having each party to identify their individual and joint assets and debts and identify a value for each.  The couple can identify the total net value of their assets by adding the total value (either on their own, or with the help of an attorney) and then subtracting any debt. At a trial, the judge will verify the facts based on witnesses and documents.

However, the resulting division is not the end of the discussion. The judge can, for reasons of fundamental fairness, determine that there should be a “deviation” or “adjustment” away from the 50/50 division.

Reasons for a deviation might include:

  • One spouse’s credits from premarital or gifted/inherited assets take up most or all of the marital estate (meaning the other spouse would be left with very little or nothing)
  • One spouse made improper transfers of marital funds in contemplation of the divorce without informing the other spouse
  • One spouse “wasted” assets when they were separate (although there is an extremely high standard to show that actions by one spouse were not inadvertent, negligent or intentional inadequacies, failures and wrongdoings, financial or otherwise)
  • One spouse has no, or very limited, future employment prospects after divorce
  • One spouse failed to disclose substantive financial information during the divorce process
  • One spouse filed for bankruptcy to gain a financial advantage during the divorce

Some arguments that are not recognized as valid reasons for deviation from the 50/50 division include:

  • The spouses operated their finances as if they were not married
  • One spouse alone purchased an asset following the filing of divorce physical separation
  • A short marriage
  • A marriage in which one or both spouses were unhappy

Regardless of your specific situation, the family law division at PMK, led by Senior Associate Seth Harris, is available to guide you through a seamless division of property.