Going through a divorce is a monumental life event. Divorces can be both expensive and stressful. You should expect your divorce attorney to be with you through every step of the legal process and maybe even provide some handholding along the way. You should demand both compassion and professionalism.   

Because your lawyer will play such a crucial role in the process, you’ll want to be very deliberate when choosing who you’ll work with. Here are some things to think about and some specific actions to take before settling on a divorce attorney:   

  • What type of divorces have they handled? Every divorce is different, but you’ll want to know that your attorney has handled cases that are similar to yours.   
  • Talk to other people you know and trust who have gone through divorces. Ask them if they recommend a specific law office or attorney.  
  • Identify at least three lawyers to interview. Prepare your questions ahead of time and carefully evaluate their answers to determine if they will meet your needs and mesh with your personality.  
  • Does your prospective divorce attorney listen? If they are constantly distracted by their phone or being disturbed by others knocking on their office door, that is a sign that they may not give you the undivided attention that you deserve.  
  • How do they charge? If there’s an hourly rate, what is it? Some attorneys provide fixed-rate fees for certain types of divorces or reduced rates for limited services.  
  • Do you feel comfortable talking to them? You’re likely to share some very personal information with them, so you’ll want to trust them and feel at ease conversing with them.   

PKK Senior Associate Seth Harris can provide you with a compassionate ear and specialized expertise to assist you with your divorce needs. Contact him today to learn what he can do for you. 

Navigating a divorce can be exceedingly challenging. When you add questions such as whether to seek professional legal advice, it can be downright confusing! Read on to learn about DIY divorces and when you should seek an attorney’s assistance.   

What is a DIY divorce   

A DIY divorce is an alternative to hiring a divorce lawyer to legally dissolve a marriage. They are free except for the court filing fee if both parties agree to the terms and at least one spouse says that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In Hawaii, most divorces are completed without the help of a legal counselor. Here are the steps of a DIY divorce:  

  • Obtain the necessary documents from the family court website (which may vary for different circuits). 
  • Fill out the necessary court forms including financial statements and prepare a divorce decree that states what you and your spouse have agreed to. 
  • If you have children, fill out financial statements, parenting and child support plans, and a partnering and child support guidelines worksheet. 
  • Submit the proposed divorce decree and copies of financial documents to the family court in person or by mail.  
  • The defendant must fill out and submit an appearance waiver, which means they are acknowledging they were properly served with the Complaint for Divorce which means they agree to the terms of the divorce decree and that they are waiving their right to a court appearance. 
  • The plaintiff must submit a document acknowledging they properly served the defendant and confirming the facts that give the court the authority to grant the divorce. 
  • The court assembles the documents and gives them to a judge until they can review them to ensure the financial statements are correct. 
  • The divorce is granted, and the court returns the documents to the spouse who filed them to be sent to the other side.  

 Some of the pros of a DIY divorce are:  

  • Less expensive. 
  • Less time-consuming, as you don’t have to meet with an attorney or appear in family court. 

Here are some of the cons of a DIY divorce:  

  • You could make a procedural error which can result in delays or additional costs.  
  • It can be frustrating to fill out the relevant documents without the help of an attorney. 
  • You might misunderstand the law on any aspect of the process. 
  • You are liable if you make a mistake. 
  • You could make a procedural error, such as not receiving a copy of the divorce documents, which can result in other headaches.  

When you hire a divorce attorney, you get a wealth of expertise that can make the process much smoother. Here are some advantages:  

  • You receive objective advice regarding your rights and obligations and advice from a qualified expert who can ensure you haven’t overlooked any details.  
  • An attorney can ensure you don’t agree to things you shouldn’t because you don’t have the proper knowledge or expertise. 
  • Your lawyer can file the documents on your behalf, so you can be confident in the quality of the work. 
  • They can make sure you are aware of all your rights, which is especially crucial if you don’t control your finances or have less money. 
  • There are specific situations in which it is especially advantageous to hire an attorney, such as if you have been married for decades and have considerable financial assets, or if you are in a more complicated custody situation, such as if one parent wants to relocate to the mainland.  

If you elect to undertake a DIY divorce, consider scheduling a consultation with an attorney so you have a basic understanding of rules for custody, alimony, property division, child support, and other administrative requirements. Or, take advantage of free legal resources, such as the Kapolei Access to Justice Room or  

Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaiʻi.   

Seth Harris, a senior associate at the PMK family law division, is available to assist you with divorce, and any other family law needs. For more information, go to www.hawaiilegal.com/practice-areas/family-law-2/.  

PMK partnered with HUGS to sponsor a Mom’s Night Out on September 1st.  HUGS is an organization that helps strengthen Hawaii’s families and improve their quality of life as they face the emotional and financial hardships of caring for a seriously ill child.

The moms were treated to a meal at Himalayan Kitchen in Kaimuki and enjoyed a night of talking story and sharing laughs.

To learn more about HUGS, visit  https://www.hugshawaii.org/

Many aspects of our daily lives changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we seem to be out of the acute phase, some aspects of pandemic life remain. One of those is the debate over whether to vaccinate your children. Here are the factors that a family court judge will take into consideration before issuing a decision:   

  • Testimony from a medical professional, usually your child’s pediatrician  
  • Each parent’s lifestyle and how much exposure to infection they may have as a result  
  • The other people who live in the child’s household, such as an elderly grandparent, a pregnant woman, or half or stepsiblings who are too young to be vaccinated   
  • What steps each parent is taking to avoid potential infection 
  • What requirement does the child’s school have in place, such as masks, social distancing, or vaccine mandates? 
  • The size of their school or circle of friends  

Navigating parenting issues after divorce, such as those related to COVID-19, can be overwhelming! PMK senior associate Seth Harris provides knowledgeable, compassionate counsel for all your family law needs. Contact him at Family@HawaiiLegal.com.  

Partner R. Laree McGuire was a featured panelist at the July 14th Hawaii Chapter Community Association Institute (CAI) 2022 Legislative Update Webinar.  McGuire addressed HB 2280 providing for the growth of personal agriculture by owners residing in a Planned Community Association under certain conditions; SB 2685 regarding cumulative voting for the election and removal of directors within Planned Community Associations; and SB 2002 regarding reasonable accommodations for disabled persons needing assistance animals in the context of real estate transactions.