Divorce Resource Center of Hawaii

Divorce Resource Center of Hawaii
  • Guidance on resolving contested divorce issues
  • Resource materials on specialized custody issues
  • Referrals to mental health professionals and financial professionals to gather information and resolve custody and financial issues
  • Mediation of contested custody issues and contested financial issues
  • Assistance with filling out and processing Family Court forms
  • Assistance with self representation in Family Court

Call for an individual appointment that is customized to your needs

EDUCATE AND MEDIATE

LITIGATE ONLY AFTER ALL OTHER OPTIONS HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED

Divorce Center of Hawaii was established by Jacqueline Kong, Esq. who after 30 years of being a family law attorney is committed to helping divorcing parties stay out of Court using education and alternate dispute resolution processes, and if settlement is not an option who believes in training and empowering divorcing parties to effectively represent themselves in Family Court.

Divorce Center of Hawaii also assists parties in paternity, guardianship, and adoption cases.

Call: 533-4444; email: jackiellc@prodiqy.net

Renown divorce psychologists say that it is not divorce that hurts children, but how parents act at time of divorce that hurts children. These psychologists also state that several years before the parents physically separate, the children are already watching bad modeling of relationships and the children are very aware of problems in their parents' marriages. Even if the parents manage to not fight physically and verbally, it is still like the children are watching a bad silent movie on television. When the parents finally physically separate, this generally produces a feeling of relief in their children because the conflict they are privy to subsides, unless the physical separation is characterized by fighting and acrimony. lt goes without saying that if the parents depend on the Court to resolve their child related and/or financial disputes, then this is when their children really start to suffer.

Unfortunately, the legal system is not set up to prevent children from being harmed by their parents fighting over them in Family Court despite the existence of the mandatory Kids First parent education program. Additionally, parents going through divorce including contested custody disputes often first seek the services of an attorney instead of a mental health and/or financial professionals to help them resolve their disputes. Most attorneys do not advise their clients about the harm to all family members and the risks and costs associated with contested divorce litigation before they are retained to file the initial pre-divorce motion for temporary physical custody and/or temporary financial relief on behalf of their clients. This inclination on the part of attorneys to just go ahead and file initial pre-divorce motions applies equally to post-divorce motions which some would say comprise a greater percentage of the cases in the Family Court's caseload than pre-divorce motions.

It is common for contested divorce litigation, especially contested custody litigation, to consume money that would othenruise be used to fund children's private education expenses and college expenses. ln fact, it is often said that the parents end up funding their attorneys' children's private school and college expenses instead of their own children's private school and college expenses. This concept of funding attorneys' assets instead of clients' assets also applies to cases in which there are no children and L there are only financial issues, since retirement monies are often borrowed against or liquidated to pay for contested divorce litigation on financial issues thereby funding the attorneys' retirement plans instead of the clients' own retirement plans.

What can be done to avoid this financial destruction that does not even take into account the emotional destruction to the parties that results from contested divorce litigation? lt is often stated that divorce clients are at their worst when they are in the Family Court system, as compared to criminal clients who are at their best when they are in the criminal Court system. Divorce clients need "substituted judgment" when they are going through their divorce cases, which means they need objective guidance by people who are not emotionally involved or emotionally affected by the divorce dispute. Just because the normal response to thoughts of divorce is to seek the services of an attorney, this is not necessarily the correct response unless the attorney is going to guide the client to start with the least intrusive and least damaging processes to try to resolve the divorce dispute. This suggestion of how to proceed does not apply where there is domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or when a parent suffers from undiagnosed/untreated mental illness that adversely affects others.

What are some of these least intrusive and least damaging processes that divorcing parties can use to resolve divorce disputes?

  • Parents who have timesharing and/or decision making disputes can meet together or separately with a mental health professional who is involved with the Family Court's Kids First program to gather information about their children's individual needs and various timesharing options that maximize each child's needs being met in light of each parent's availability and ability to meet each child's needs. This has the benefit of the children's needs, not the parents' wants, being the priority.
  • Divorcing parties who have complicated financial issues based on income(s) and/or assets can meet with a financial professional who has experience in Family Court cases to gather informatlon about each party's income and/or assets.This has the benefit of each party having the documents/information needed to make informed financial decisions.
  • Divorcing parents/parties can participate in mediation either with a nonprofit agency or a private mediator such as a retired Family Court judge or an attorney. This has the benefit of each parenVparty having maximum input and maximum control in the dispute resolution process, and it also has the benefit of conserving limited financial resources that were previously used to support one household but that are now needed to support two households. Mediation does not always have to be with both parents/parties in the room at the same time. Often the mediator(s) can meet separately with each parent/party either at the same time or at different times.

What are some additional benefits/advantages of starting with the least intrusive and least damaging processes to resolve divorce disputes? (Note: the following does not apply in cases where there is domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or when a parent suffers from und iagnosed/untreated mental illness that adversely affects others).

  • ln addition to each parenUparty having maximum input and maximum control in the dispute resolution process and the parents/parties conserving limited financial resources, in the long run, if not from the beginning, the process moves quicker and is cheaper than proceeding in Family Court.
  • The parents/parties do not dig their heels in the ground and sling mud back and forth between themselves and become so entrenched in their divorce disputes that they lose sight of the effect this is having on their children. Each child is made up of Tz of each parent and when the child perceives something is bad about one of their parents then this affects how the child views himself/herself. Additionally, children like it when their parents can continue to attend their school events and future life events such as graduations, marriage, and birth of grandchildren together without one parent having to be excluded to avoid conflict (or worse, the child not inviting either parent).

What are some of the risks and costs/disadvantages of starting with litigation to resolve divorce disputes?

  • Attorneys and Judges generally are not guided by psychological concepts about children's best interests since their legal training does not include this type of education.
  • Attorneys and Judges generally do not make it their mission to try to settle a case unless asked to do so.
  • Attorneys and Judges know less and care less about the cases they are handling than the parents/parties care about their own cases, because these professionals' caseloads consist of many cases and their lives do not revolve around any one case.

What this all means is that the people who know the most and who care the most about the outcomes of cases are the parents/parties themselves, and for them to think that they should put their lives and their children's lives in the hands of attorneys and Judges is not prudent. No matter how much divorcing parents/parties wish that the other parenUparty no longer existed, if they can think back to when they did get along then maybe they can wrap their brains around trying to meet their children's needs and each of their own needs as a way of preventing themselves from entrusting the fate of their most precious resources (whether it be their children and/or their money) to third parties who are less informed about their families and who care less about their cases than they do.

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