Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court

No. SCWC-30070 Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 9:30 a.m.

COLLEEN P. COLLINS, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. JOHN A. WASSELL, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

University of Hawai`i
Hilo Performing Arts Center
200 W. Kawili Street
Hilo, HI 96720

Attorney for Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant:

Joy A. San Buenaventura

Attorney for Respondent/Defendant-Appellee:

Andrew S. Iwashita

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 08/23/13.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SRA, SSM, & RWP, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner/plaintiff-appellant Colleen P. Collins filed an application for a writ of certiorari to review the May 16, 2013 Judgment on Appeal of the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA), entered pursuant to its March 21, 2013 Summary Disposition Order (SDO). The ICA’s judgment affirmed the Family Court of the Third Circuit’s (family court) September 9, 2009 Divorce Decree.

In brief summary, Collins filed for divorce against respondent/defendant-appellee John A. Wassell, and argued that she was entitled to an equalization payment for her contributions while the couple cohabited prior to their legal marriage. Wassell, however, maintained that he and Collins agreed that they would each maintain separate financial identities until the time of their legal marriage. The family court agreed and determined that Collins and Wassell did not form a premarital economic partnership within the meaning of Helbush v. Helbush, 108 Hawai`i 508, 122 P.3d 288 (App. 2005). The ICA, in a split opinion, affirmed the Divorce Decree.

Collins raises three questions in her application: (1) whether the ICA gravely erred by “creating a premarital cohabitation rule”; (2) whether the case should be vacated and remanded to the family court “due to its irrelevant focus on financial identities rather than the partnership”; and (3) whether the ICA gravely erred in failing to consider if Collins’s “premarital contributions [were] a valid a relevant consideration to deviate from the marital partnership categories[.]”

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