The Family Court is seeing an increased backlog of unresolved cases, especially because of the complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hearings – even those deemed urgent – are being scheduled months out. Even more so than in the past, the court is encouraging people to seek alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to avoid what can be a months-long wait for a hearing. Alternative dispute resolution can also be less expensive than going through the Family Court.  

Parents or spouses can use alternative dispute resolution to navigate divorces, and custody or child support disputes.  

Forms of alternative dispute resolution include:  

  • Mediation – The parties work together with a trained mediator to facilitate conversation and resolution.  
  • Arbitration – The parties hire a family law attorney or expert who acts as a private judge to resolve the remaining disputes.   
  • Custody Issues – Third-party evaluators, such as a Family Court-approved, licensed,  trained custody evaluator, can determine what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. 

 Seth Harris, senior associate at the PMK family law division, can help determine if alternative dispute resolution is a good option for you. For more information, go to https://www.hawaiilegal.com/practice-areas/family-law-2/. 

PMK partnered with HUGS to sponsor a Dad’s Night Out on December 15th.  HUGS is an organization that helps strengthen Hawaii’s families and improve their quality of life as they face the emotional and financial hardships of caring for a seriously ill child.

The dads enjoyed a virtual night of fun playing “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” The teams and had fun testing their trivia skills with a little friendly competition and enjoyed a takeout meal from Zippy’s. They were thankful to have a night with others in similar situations and some much-needed social time.

To learn more about HUGS, visit https://www.hugshawaii.org/

As in year’s past, PMK has elected to close our office from December 24th – January 2nd to allow our staff and associates to spend time with their families. We wish you a very happy holiday and look forward to working with you in 2022. Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

For many of us, the winter holidays are something to look forward to. Plentiful food, surprise gifts, and especially family get-togethers are all part of the festivities. But for divorced couples who co-parent, the most wonderful time of year can also be extremely stressful. However, there are some practical ways to minimize the pressure.  

Read on for six tips to make it a joyful holiday season for you and your kids!  

  1. Follow the court orders  

Court orders are binding. If you defy them, you will be judged on your non-compliance, regardless of the situation, including anything your former spouse may have done to provoke such an action.   

       2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew 

For some people, the holidays create a feeling of being pulled in multiple directions at one time. As always, there are work obligations, but you may also be grappling with responsibilities to your extended family.  

Maybe you would like your children to visit with you for two weeks, but there are practical concerns that could make this difficult. How much time can you be present with them when they are not at school? How much time can you take off from work? Can a family member help? If not, can you afford to hire a babysitter? Regardless of your situation, be sure to have all your ducks in a row and don’t take on anything that you can’t handle, emotionally, practically, or financially.  

       3. Seek solutions 

 Don’t wait for problems and conflict to arise! Seek to find solutions that work for both you and your spouse, so that both sides get the time they need and want with the children as much as reasonably possible. Remember to be flexible if you need to. Going to court for dispute resolution should be a last resort.

       4. Prioritize  

 For some families, Christmas morning is the most important event. For others, Christmas Day is more cherished. Seek to balance your family traditions with your spouse’s but remember that it is your children’s needs that are paramount, and they will vary depending on their age.  

For example, you may believe that you must take photos of your toddler opening their gifts on Christmas morning, but a two-year-old is just as happy to celebrate on the 26th 

       5. Do not argue with your spouse in front of your children  

 Children are extremely intuitive and parental conflict creates stress, anxiety, and worry regardless of their age.  

       6. Remember – no single day makes or breaks your ability to be a good parent  

 Even if your children are with your former spouse on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after, and you can’t see them until the 27th, they won’t love you any less.  

Whatever your needs when it comes to co-parenting, Seth Harris, senior associate of the PMK family law division, can guide you through the legal process to ensure an outcome that is in the best interest of your child. Contact him at Family@HawaiiLegal.com. 

Partner R. Laree McGuire was a featured panelist at the December 4th Hawaii Council of Community Associations “Year in Review” Webinar.  McGuire spoke on the topics of Board communication outside of a Board meeting as well as on the new laws passed during the 2021 Legislative Session.