When it comes to child support some guidelines are fairly universal, while others are specific to Hawaii. 

Here are some rules of thumb that you should know about child support in the Aloha state, whether you are the paying parent or the recipient.   

  1. As is generally the case across the country, the Hawaii law mandates that parents be financially responsible for their children. As a result, a family court can order a parent to pay child support if their child does not live with them.   
  2. Hawaii uses a child guidelines worksheet to determine the default amount for how much child support you will pay or receive. Child support should not exceed the reasonable needs of the child.  
  3. The child support amount can be modified due to a “material change in circumstances,” such as a job loss, or if the paying parent contests the child support amount and the court agrees with their request.  
  4. In Hawaii, if a child is in college, the court can mandate that the paying parent pay child support up until 23-years-of-age. If the child has special needs that require that they receive extra care, the court can require child support even beyond 23. 
  5. In the Aloha State, parents can go through either the state’s Family Court or the state’s Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) for child support decisions. CSEA is usually quicker and won’t require an attorney. Family Court is useful if multiple issues require resolution, such as alimony and child support. 
  6. Child support is not taxable to the parent receiving it.  

Seth Harris, a senior associate at the PMK family law division, is available to assist you with child support and all of your family law needs. For more information, go to www.hawaiilegal.com/practice-areas/family-law-2/.

Partner R. Laree McGuire was a featured panelist at the June 12th Hawaii Council of Community Associations (HCCA) Board of Director Training Webinar. McGuire spoke on Association and Board Governance covering HRS 514B-121-126 and 421J, as well as an update on the new laws passed during the 2021 Legislative Session, Fair Housing and Foreclosure Law.

Posting anything on social media during a contested legal case – especially one involving divorce or child custody – can create a minefield of problems.  

Family court judges will consider any communication made by either party as evidence. That includes anything posted on a public space, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, dating apps, or any other social media platform.  

The best strategy while the legal case is pending is to stay off social media completely. But if you do go on social media, there are some particularly thorny topics to stay away from:  

  • Anything to suggest you are not a good parent  
  • Any comments concerning your current or former spouse  
  • Information about a relationship with a new significant other 
  • Content that causes you to appear unstable  
  • Information about large purchases you’ve made or monetary gifts anyone has given to you   
  • Photos showing conduct that would negatively impact the perception of you as a parent, such as consumption of illegal drugs or alcohol 

In summary, never assume your social media posts are invisible to your current or former spouse, or anyone else. Consider staying off social media completely until your divorce is finalized.  

Seth Harris, an experienced attorney with the PMK Family Law Division, is available to provide compassionate and practical advice to guide you through all aspects of a divorce, from start to finish.

A guardian ad litem is an attorney who advocates to the court on behalf of a child when their interests diverge from their parents. This type of attorney is generally trained in child advocacy.  

Whereas a custody evaluator is a neutral party, a guardian ad litem’s job is to do what is in the best interest of the child based on their individual needs. The needs of the child are not necessarily what he or she says, but reflect their short and long term interests.  

As part of this process, guardian ad litem interacts with the childand also communicates with other parties such as parentstherapists and custody evaluators and helps the entire group liaise when necessary.  

Guardian ad litem submits written report to the court with their recommendations, which may help a judge decide matters such as allocation of parenting time and responsibilities, financial support, or even relocation. Either parent or the court can request a guardian ad litem 

 A guardian ad litem might advocate for a child who is reunifying with a parent, perhaps by engaging a monitor, such as a social worker, to be present at visits.  

Another instance might be in the case of a special needs child, in which the guardian ad litem would communicate with therapists or teachers to identify a specific curriculum or activities that are most beneficial to the child, and request that these be considered in any custody-related orders. 

Seth Harris, senior associate with PMK’s family law division, is available to be a compassionatethoughtful representative as a guardian ad litem, or for any other family law needs. For more information, go to https://www.hawaiilegal.com/practice-areas/family-law-2/. 

Although it is extremely rare, there are times when a family court judge may decide to terminate an adult’s legal rights as a parent. Such action is almost always linked to foster custody or an adoption proceeding.  

In some instances, such action is involuntary, and it may occur over the objection of the parent whose rights are being terminated. In other cases, the parent may request that the court terminate their parental rights. In either case, the court uses very strict standards to terminate a parent’s legal rights to their child.  

When it comes to involuntary termination of a parent’s legal rights, the court will consider any way in which the parent has made an effort to be a part of the child’s life. For example, even a parent who is incarcerated may be able to send letters to their child or provide minimal financial support in some form.  

 Some of the circumstances under Hawaii state law in which the court will involuntarily terminate a parent’s legal rights to their child include: 

  • If the parent surrendered care of the child to another person for at least two years  
  • If the parent failed to communicate with the child for at least one year  
  • When the parent fails to provide care and support to the child for at least one year 
  • When the child was removed from the parent’s physical custody due to a legal action 
  • If the parent is found by the court to be mentally ill or intellectually disabled and unable to givconsent to an adoption or from providing the care necessary for the well-being of the child
  • If it is determined that the father is not the natural or adoptive father  

If a parent wishes to relinquish their parental rights to their child, the family court judge will ask for the specific reasons for the request. The most common circumstances in which the court might grant a parents’ request to relinquish their parental are when the child is adopted by another, such as a stepparent or new adoptive parents.  

Whether voluntary or involuntary, the termination of parental rights is not something that the Family Court takes lightly. Seth Harris, senior associate with PMK’s family law division is available to assist with any legal cases related to the termination of parental rights or any other family law needs. For more information, go to https://www.hawaiilegal.com/practice-areas/family-law-2/.