Divorce; Waiting Period

Establishes a one-year waiting period after filing for a divorce
before the family court may issue a decree of divorce, if there
are minor children of either or both parties who are living with
either or both parties.  Requires mandatory pre-divorce

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.914        
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that it is often too easy
 2 for couples to obtain a "no-fault" divorce, especially where
 3 children are involved.  Some couples seek a quick dissolution of
 4 their marriage, often with little thought as to the often
 5 devastating consequences of their actions on their young
 6 children.  The legislature finds that without adequate
 7 preparation and counseling, divorce may have harmful effects on
 8 the children affected by the divorce, both at the time of the
 9 divorce and later in their lives.
10      The purpose of this Act is to establish an additional
11 obstacle for couples seeking to obtain a divorce when children
12 are involved in the form of a one-year waiting period after
13 filing for a divorce.  This Act also requires that those couples
14 with children who seek to obtain a divorce obtain pre-divorce
15 counseling to enable them to ensure the welfare of their children
16 after the divorce and to examine the consequences of their
17 actions more seriously.
18      SECTION 2.  Chapter 580, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
19 by adding a new section to part III to be appropriately

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                                     H.B. NO.914        

 1 designated and to read:
 2      "580-    Mandatory pre-divorce counseling.  (a)  In any
 3 divorce proceeding in which there are minor children of either or
 4 both of the parties who are living with either or both of the
 5 parties, prior to the issuance of a final decree of divorce, the
 6 parties shall engage the services of any mutually-agreed upon
 7 adult to provide counseling to the parties to discuss the divorce
 8 and its potential impact on the children.
 9      (b)  The party moving for the divorce may be exempted from
10 the requirement of subsection (a) if the family court finds that
11 the other party has wilfully refused to engage in counseling;
12 provided that the court in its discretion may order that one or
13 both parties, either individually or together, receive counseling
14 pursuant to subsection (c) before granting a divorce.  A party
15 also shall be exempted from joint counseling if there have been
16 allegations of spouse abuse.
17      (c)  The family court shall have trained personnel available
18 to provide counseling pursuant to this section, which shall be
19 provided to the party or parties upon their request at no cost to
20 the parties."
21      SECTION 3.  Section 580-41 , Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
22 amended to read as follows:
23      "580-41  Divorce.  (a)  The family court shall decree a

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                                     H.B. NO.914        

 1 divorce from the bond of matrimony upon the application of either
 2 party when the court finds:
 3      (1)  The marriage is irretrievably broken;
 4      (2)  The parties have lived separate and apart under a
 5           decree of separation from bed and board entered by any
 6           court of competent jurisdiction, the term of separation
 7           has expired, and no reconciliation has been effected;
 8      (3)  The parties have lived separate and apart for a period
 9           of two years or more under a decree of separate
10           maintenance entered by any court of competent
11           jurisdiction, and no reconciliation has been effected;
12           or
13      (4)  The parties have lived separate and apart for a
14           continuous period of two years or more immediately
15           preceding the application, there is no reasonable
16           likelihood that cohabitation will be resumed, and the
17           court is satisfied that, in the particular
18           circumstances of the case, it would not be harsh and
19           oppressive to the defendant or contrary to the public
20           interest to a divorce on this ground on the complaint
21           of the plaintiff.
22      (b)  In any divorce proceeding under this section in which
23 there are minor children of either or both of the parties who are

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                                     H.B. NO.914        

 1 living with either or both of the parties, the family court,
 2 prior to issuing a final decree of divorce, shall require that
 3 the parties:
 4      (1)  Wait for one year after the filing for a divorce, in
 5           addition to any other statutory waiting period provided
 6           in subsection (a); and
 7      (2)  Engage in mandatory pre-divorce counseling pursuant to
 8           section 580-   ."
 9      SECTION 4.  This Act shall not apply to any action for
10 divorce filed before its effective date.
11      SECTION 5.  New statutory material is underscored.
12      SECTION 6.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 1999.
14                              INTRODUCED BY:______________________