Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Case Law Development: Spouse's Death Deprives Family Court of Jurisdiction to Enter Divorce Decree

With the disposition of considerable property in the balance, The Hawaii Court of Appeals holds that Husband's death, which occurred after the court filed its decision and order but before the signing and filing of the decree of absolute divorce,  terminated the Family Court's jurisdiction.  The trial court had found that a Decree of Absolute Divorce is a mere formality to its Decision and Order filed before Husband's death and denied Wife's motion to  dismiss the divorce and granted Husband's daughter's motion for a divorce decree

Both parties argued precedent from various states on the issue, but the Court of Appeals concluded that Hawaii statutes, construed in light of their legislative history disfavoring "hasty divorces", the court's discretion in fixing a date for a divorce decree is "limited to a one month period commencing the date of the entry of the decree.  Consequently, it does not authorize courts to order the divorce decree to be effective prior to the date of its entry."

Camp v. Camp, 2006 Haw. App. LEXIS 3 (January 12, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited January 17, 2006 bgf)

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