Grandparents often play a major role in children’s lives, particularly here in Hawaii where the importance of kupuna or elders is woven into our culture.
During significant parental disputes such as a divorce, grandparents’ access to their grandchildren can become an issue. When it comes to visitation for grandparents in the event of a divorce, Hawaii has no law mandating access and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. However, Hawaii courts use the same rule of thumb that they do with all custody/visitation rulings – the best interest of the child.
In Hawaii family court, in cases where grandparents have served as caregivers for the child when the parents are unable to do so, or if they have a longstanding emotional bond with the child and it would be detrimental to cut them out of the child’s life, the judge may ask the parents to agree on how they will allow the child to spend time with the grandparents. If the parents cannot come to an agreement and the judge believes contact with the grandparents is essential for the child, he or she will step in and create a legal order.
Such an order does not give the grandparents any custodial rights to the child such as making decisions for him or her or receiving any money on their behalf. The orders are typically limited to providing scheduled access to the child.
Seth Harris, senior associate of the PMK family law division, can guide you through the visitation process to help ensure an outcome that is in the best interest of your child.