A Hawaii divorce decree must resolve two custody issues if there are children born of the marriage – “physical custody” (with which parent will the children reside) and “legal custody” (which parent will be responsible for making major decisions in the child’s life, such as which church and school the child will attend, medical decisions, etc.). In Hawaii, both physical and legal custody can be shared (“joint custody”) or held solely by one parent. If physical custody is granted to one parent, then the other parent usually has rights of “visitation,” as well as the corresponding obligation to pay child support.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the custody issues, then the Hawaii Family Court will make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the children. In making this determination, the Family Court judge will order a “social study” – a short meeting (about ½ hour) between the parents and a court-appointed social worker. The social worker will interview both parents and sometimes the children, and will then recommend a custody order to the Hawaii Family Court judge.
The Hawaii Family Court will also consider frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact of each parent with the child unless the court finds that a parent is unable to act in the best interest of the child. Our Honolulu family law and divorce lawyers will work hard to help you obtain the custody orders that are best for you and your family.
Supervised Visitation in Hawaii
If you believe that your children are not safe with your spouse, either because your spouse has abused the children or will drugs or alcohol during the visitation or otherwise, you can ask the court to order “supervised visitation.” In Hawaii, supervised visitation means your spouse is limited to visiting the children in a specific public place under the supervision of another adult, like a visitation center or a relative.
Hawaii Child Support
According to Hawaii law, the “non-custodial parent” – the parent who does not get physical custody of the children – must pay child support to the “custodial parent.” The payment of child support is required by law and cannot be waived by the custodial parent. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on the amount of child support, the Family Court will determine the amount to be paid. The Family Court may order either or both parents to provide child support, considering: (1) all earnings, income, and resources of the parents; (2) the earning potential, reasonable necessities, and borrowing capacity of the parents; (3) the needs of the child; (4) the full amount of public aid the child would receive without any child support; (5) any other dependents of the parents; (6) incentives for both parents to work; (7) an attempt to balance the standard of living of the parents and avoid placing any parent below poverty level; (8) to avoid any extreme changes in either parent’s income; and (9) if a parent with school-age children is able to work and does not, 30 hours of minimum wage income will be added to that parent’s presumed income.
If the non-custodial parent is intentionally unemployed in order to evade his or her child support obligations, the Family Court will “impute” income to the non-custodial parent – essentially, the court will pretend that the non-custodial parent is working and is making a certain wage. This will force the non-custodial parent to find employment quickly. If the non-custodial parent is working, a portion of his or her paycheck can be taken by the State to pay child support. If you and your spouse plan to share joint physical custody, the Family Court will still likely order the parent with more income to pay child support.
You can calculate your or your spouse’s child support obligation by using the Hawaii child support calculator. Simply input the following five figures: (1) Number of children; (2) Husband’s gross income (all pay and allowances, and before taxes are deducted); (3) Wife’s gross income (all pay and allowances, and before taxes are deducted); (4) Day care expenses, if any; and (5) The child’s/children’s monthly medical care expenses, if any. The calculator will provide you with the child support obligation where the custodial parent has sole physical custody of the child or children. If the parties share (joint) physical custody, the child support obligation will be reduced by approximately 50%.
Hawaii Military Lawyers
The federal “Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act,” formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, provides certain rights and protections to military personnel and their dependents. As a former JAG officer, I am well-versed and experienced in handling family law issues affected by the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.
Temporary Orders for Child Custody, Child Support, and Use of Marital Property in Hawaii
Once you or your spouse files the Hawaii “Complaint for Divorce,” which starts the divorce process, you can ask the Hawaii Family Court to issue temporary orders to temporarily resolve certain issues while you are waiting for your divorce to become final. The Hawaii Family Court can issue temporary orders regarding child custody, child support, and the use of marital property (who gets to use the car, who gets to live in the family home, etc.). You ask for these temporary orders by filing a “Motion for Pre-Decree Relief.” The Hawaii Family Court will then hold a hearing on your motion, where your spouse will have the opportunity to appear and present his or her argument against your motion, and the judge will make a decision. Our Honolulu family law and divorce lawyers can help you obtain the relief you and your family need.
Hawaii Temporary Restraining Order
If you believe that your spouse poses a threat to you and/or your children, you can ask the Hawaii Family Court to issue a temporary restraining order (“TRO”). A Hawaii TRO is a court order that can order your spouse not to contact you, your children, and other persons living with you. It can also order your spouse to leave the home. It can also give you temporary custody of your children.
If you need a dedicated Hawaii Divorce and Family Law attorney, call us today.
Click on the links below to learn more about the Hawaii divorce and family law.
01. Hawaii Family Law
02. If You are “Served”
03. Legal Effect of Hawaii Divorce
04. Residency Requirements
05. Grounds for Hawaii Divorce
06. Hawaii Child Custody/Support
07. Hawaii Spousal Support
08. Property Division
09. Hawaii Paternity