The Hawaii State Judiciary’s First Circuit Family Court (Oahu), together with the Mediation Center of the Pacific (MCP) and the Collaborative Divorce Hawaii Practice Group (CDHPG) are launching a collaborative divorce pilot project. The project aims to provide divorcing parties who do not have attorneys representing them with the tools and resources needed to understand the process and learn about the different options available.
On January 2, 2014, the first hundred (100) plaintiffs who file for divorce without attorneys and without motions, and their spouses, will receive an invitation from the Family Court to participate in the project. The pilot program is starting with a small group of people so that it can be tailored and/or improved before future expansion.
Those who express interest in participating will be invited to attend a 60-minute informational presentation about the divorce pilot program at the Hawaii Supreme Court. The presentation will be offered on several different dates from February through April. At the presentation, qualified family law attorneys will explain the process of divorce in Hawaii and present settlement options, including "kitchen table settlement," attorney settlement, mediation, arbitration/private judging, collaborative divorce and litigation. Couples in the project may also begin a mediation process with MCP. CDHPG will be offering free optional sessions with financial experts, mental health experts, and volunteer collaborative attorneys.
"Divorce is a traumatic event that affects the lives of many individuals - especially children,” says Senior Family Court Judge R. Mark Browning. “This collaborative project, along with other programs provided by Family Court, is designed to minimize this trauma and help divorcing couples resolve their differences outside of an adversarial process," Judge Browning adds.
Tracey Wiltgen, MCP executive director, agreed: "Couples who work through the terms of their divorce either through the collaborative divorce process, or through mediation, will both save time and money, and also have the opportunity to make customized agreements to meet the unique and special needs of all their family members."
Bill Darrah, CDHPG president, added: "Each year on Oahu about 4,000 couples get divorced. Too often, it takes too long and costs too much. While new to Hawaii, collaborative practice has flourished in other states, and other countries, for years. We are happy that this pilot project sponsored by the Family Court will introduce collaborative divorce as a viable alternative to Hawaii's divorcing couples."
For more information about this project, please call the Judiciary's Public Affairs Office at (808) 539-4909 or call CDHPG at (808)533-0155.
The MCP is a nonprofit provider of community mediation services, and a longtime partner with the Family Court in various programs assisting families and children. Through the divorce mediation process, divorcing spouses exchange necessary information, openly discuss their interests, identify and explore settlement options, and hopefully reach a settlement without litigation.
The CDHPG is a nonprofit organization of attorneys and other professionals affiliated with the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) dedicated to helping divorcing spouses achieve a divorce without litigation utilizing collaborative divorce procedures under the new Hawaii Uniform Collaborative Law Act (HUCLA). In collaborative practice, each spouse and their respective attorneys agree to freely and openly share information, and strive to resolve all issues in the best interests of the family and the children without litigation, and if they can't settle, the lawyers are discharged. In this way, attorneys become problem solvers, rather than adversaries.