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Statute of Limitations on Debt in Hawaii

George Simons | October 19, 2022

Summary: Is a debt collector threatening you with litigation over an old debt in Hawaii? See if the Hawaii statute of limitations is your best defense.

Away from the sandy beaches and tropical climate Hawaii is famous for, the state has one of the highest consumer debts in the country. So if you're struggling with your credit card loan, mortgage, or student loan, you're not alone; a huge number of Hawaiians are seeking solutions to debt and financial problems. And, if debt collectors are already after you, it's essential to know more about Hawaii's debt collection laws and your rights as a debtor.

This article will particularly explain the statute of limitations on debt in Hawaii to help you establish whether the debt you've been sued for is time-barred or not. In addition, you'll learn what to do when a debt collector files a debt complaint against you.

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Hawaii statute of limitations explained

The statute of limitation varies from one state to another. In Hawaii, these laws depend on the type of contract from which the debt arises.

Hawaii Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years





On Account


Auto Loan





10 (court of record), 6 (court not of record)

Source: Findlaw

Open accounts and written contracts

These two types of contracts have a statute of limitations of six years except for auto loans, which have a four-year limit. They cover credit card balances, personal lines of credit, home equity loans, and other similar loans.

However, debts that fall within the ambit of the Uniform Commercial Code aren't included in this category. These are debts that arise from commercial transactions, such as the sale of property from one person to another.

Domestic judgment

In a debt collection lawsuit, a judgment is the court's official ruling where the judge awards the creditor or debt collector an order to collect what the debtor owes. This judgment can recommend debt collection methods such as wage garnishment, property liens, or bank levies.

A domestic judgment rendered by a Hawaiian court has a 10-year expiry period within which the judgment creditor - the party to which the debt is owed - must collect their debt. According to Hawaiian debt collection laws, the judgment will be presumed to be paid and discharged when this period expires unless an extension is granted.

Otherwise, no actions can be taken after this period expires without an extension.

The extension of a domestic judgment must be done within 10 years by either filing a notice or a motion requesting the extension. However, the court can only render up to a 20-year extension from the date when the original judgment was passed.

Foreign judgment

The judgment creditor can also enforce a judgment passed in another state by following certain procedures. First, they must file an exemplified copy of the judgment with a Hawaiian court that presides over such cases. The judgment will then be treated similarly to a domestic judgment and subject to the same effects and procedures.

State tax debts

Most states have a longer statute of limitations on state or county taxes. For example, the state of Hawaii can collect back taxes for 15 years after assessing your taxes.

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What's the debt collection process in Hawaii?

Debt collection practices in Hawaii are governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). These rules protect the debtor from unfair debt collection practices such as harassment, abuse, and misrepresentation.

When you forfeit paying your creditor, they will contact you through letters, emails, or calls to request payment. The creditor may do so for several months until they decide to transfer the account to a debt collection agency.

Unlike creditors, debt collection agents are more aggressive and persistent. They'll most likely annoy you with constant calls, letters, or emails to convince you to pay what you supposedly owe.

There are so many things that can go wrong as debt collectors gather information about debtors. For example, the debt collector may not trace the correct amount the debtor owes, especially if several collection agents or agencies have handled the account in the past. They may also contact the wrong person about the debt while searching for the original debtors' contact information.

If you've received a debt collection summons for old debt in Hawaii or a debt you don't remember acquiring, it's always advisable to respond to the summons. Ignoring the lawsuit may lead to a default judgment in favor of the debt collector, who may obtain the right to garnish your wages or impose a property lien on your property.

Remember, chances are that the statute of limitation of the said debt has already expired if the debt is old, meaning that the collector has no legal right to sue you. However, if you don't respond to the debt collection summons, the debt collector will win the case even if the debt's statute of limitations has expired.

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How to answer a debt collection lawsuit in Hawaii

You have 20 days to respond to the Summons and Complaints filed against you in Hawaii. Within that time, you need to:

  • Prepare your answer document;
  • Respond to all the issues raised in the complaint (you can either accept, deny the claims);
  • State the reasons why the plaintiff has no case against you (you can use the statute of limitation as your assertive defense);
  • File the answer with the court and send a copy to the plaintiff.

Although these steps are straightforward, the court may reject your Answer if it doesn't meet the standard requirements of the legal document.

However, in just 15 minutes, SoloSuit will guide you through a set of questions designed to help you respond to the debt collection summons by telling your side of the story. After completing the questions, this web application will generate a legal document you can print and file with the court and also serve the plaintiff.

SoloSuit is specifically designed to help you respond to a debt collection complaint with ease and on time. The application will take you through the step-by-step process of generating the Answer for free, so you won't have to worry about hiring an attorney. And if you wish to have the Answer reviewed before filing, you're welcome to work with one of the competent attorneys SoloSuit recommends at a reasonable fee.

That way, you'll increase your chances of obtaining a favorable ruling by 80%. Lastly, SoloSuit can also help you file your Answer at a fee to avoid getting caught up with the tight, 20-day deadline in Hawaii.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

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