For two people who have shared a life for years or even decades, divorce can be a harrowing, but sometimes necessary decision. Many people deciding to divorce have questions about child custody, division of property, and spousal support.
Spousal support, or alimony, is a court-ordered contract between two spouses with unequal income. Alimony contracts mandate that the higher-earning spouse support the other for a certain amount of time after the divorce. Historically, alimony was awarded to women who worked at home without income, tending the house and raising the children. However, given the rise in two-income households over the past several decades, as well as the ratification of same-sex marriage as a legal practice in the United States, it is now available to spouses of any gender.
The Sands Law Group, APLC prides itself on offering exceptional family law services to clients across Oahu. Our experienced team of Honolulu spousal support attorneys is committed to providing thorough and fair representation to divorcing couples, negotiating reasonable alimony agreements, and winning substantial awards in court. It is deeply important to us that skilled divorce lawyers are accessible to all. As such, we offer our services at affordable rates and can communicate with clients in five languages: French, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish, and English. Call us today for a confidential consultation about your divorce.
Understanding Spousal Support in California & Hawaii
Spousal support comes in many forms and will vary depending on your state of residence.
Types of Spousal Support in Hawaii
Hawaii recognizes three types of spousal support: temporary, short-term, and long-term support.
- Temporary spousal support typically lasts from the date it is requested to the date that the divorce is finalized. During this interval, the court mandates that the higher-earning spouse provide financial assistance to cover the lower-earning spouse’s cost of living.
- Short-term support comes in two forms: transitional and rehabilitative.
- Transitional support is similar to an extension of temporary support, although an award of temporary support does not guarantee transitional support. The supporting spouse continues to give financial assistance to the supported spouse after the divorce is finalized, so that the supported spouse may transition to their new lifestyle. Transitional support typically lasts no more than six months after divorce proceedings end.
- Rehabilitative support is the most common type of spousal support. It is commonly awarded to single-income households, in which one spouse worked at home without income. Rehabilitative support is sustained financial support paid to this spouse while they acquire new job skills or education needed to sustain themselves. The supported spouse must propose a plan outlining their path to employment over a set period. The court takes this plan into account when deciding how long the supporting spouse must pay alimony.
- Long-term support is relatively rare and is usually only awarded to long-standing marriages. If the lower-earning spouse is unable to support themselves due to old age or disability, a judge may require the higher-earning spouse to support them for the rest of their life or until they marry someone else who can provide for them.
Factors Used to Determine Hawaii Spousal Support
To qualify for spousal support, a couple must first prove that one spouse requires support and that the other spouse can afford to give that support. Once this is demonstrated, a Hawaii judge will consider the following factors when awarding spousal support:
- The marriage length;
- The age and physical/emotional health of each spouse;
- Each spouse’s income and earning capacity, as well as their level and nature of employment;
- The marital standard of living, as well as the higher-earning spouse’s future independent standard of living;
- The financial resources independently available to each spouse;
- Any child support or custody concerns;
- The employability and current professional skills of the lower-earning spouse; and
- The estimated timeframe of necessary support—in other words, how long it will take the supported spouse to transition to their new life or find a new job.
How Can a Honolulu Alimony Attorney Help?
The benefits of hiring a Honolulu alimony attorney are numerous.
Skilled Honolulu spousal support attorneys can:
- explain what spousal or partner support is, including its potential tax impacts;
- estimate how long a lower-earning spouse could expect to receive support, and assist them in requesting that amount;
- help each party to understand their rights and responsibilities as the supported or supporting spouse;
- write an airtight support agreement, thus court;
- prepare court documentation, ensuring that it is thoroughly and correctly filled out; and
- request a change or end to a spousal support order.
Involving a family law attorney does not mean you and your spouse have to go to court. Alimony attorneys can act as mediators, negotiating a support contract that is fair to both parties and submitting it to the court on the couple’s behalf. Many divorcing couples have avoided a lengthy court battle by calling on a lawyer early in the process.
However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on alimony terms, a good lawyer will fight for you in court and ensure that you receive the spousal support you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions About Alimony in Hawaii
What Qualifies Someone For Spousal Support?
In both Hawaii, a judge will not award spousal support until the couple has proven that one spouse requires support, and the other spouse can afford to give that support. Once this has been demonstrated, the type and duration of spousal support awarded is highly subjective. Each case is unique and depends on the confluence of factors described above. The judge must also consider each individual’s debt, any shared business ventures the couple embarked on together, and the conditions specified in any existing prenuptial agreements.
Once a supported spouse attains a job that will sufficiently support them or marries someone who can provide for them, they no longer qualify for spousal support.
Is Spousal Support Mandatory in Hawaii?
Alimony is not guaranteed in Hawaii. However, if a couple agrees upon alimony terms without court intervention, a judge will usually accept those terms. Once the court accepts or mandates an alimony contract, it is illegal for the supporting spouse not to pay. If you pay alimony and lose your job, your ability to work, or file for bankruptcy, you must continue to pay until you request a change to your alimony agreement and that change has been granted.
What Happens if Alimony Isn’t Paid?
It is illegal not to pay alimony in Hawaii. Supporting spouses must pay in full and on time. If you cannot pay alimony, you must request an alimony agreement modification from the court. You must continue to pay unless and until the court has accepted the requested modification.
Contact Our Compassionate Honolulu Spousal Support Lawyers Today
It’s undeniable that divorce is a difficult and stressful time in a couple’s life. The empathetic and experienced Honolulu spousal support attorneys at The Sands Law Group, APLC, will work to minimize your hardship and make the transition to your new lives apart as smooth as possible. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your alimony case.