The First Circuit Family Court will restart hearings as scheduled on May 18, 2020, as stated in the Second Amended Emergency Order #4 Regarding Family Court of the First Circuit, filed April 29, 2020. The hearings that were postponed this week will be rescheduled by the court.
Effective May 12, 2020 and until further notice, all family court calendars with the exception of Detention Home hearings and Temporary Restraining Order hearings are shut down. No hearings will be held, except DH and TRO hearings pending further instructions from the court on restarting.
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many businesses to shut down, leading to the significant reduction or loss of income for many members of our community. It further impacts those who have obligations to pay child support, and increases the sense of urgency and insecurity for those parties who rely on child support payments to support their children.
If you are the payor responsible for providing child support to the custodial parent, you must continue making court ordered payments. If you are experiencing financial issues due to a pay cut, being laid off, or furloughed due to COVID-19, you may have a reasonable basis to request a reduction in your child support payments.
You must continue paying the court ordered child support unless or until you file a motion in court (or Child Support Enforcement Agency), or execute a written agreement between you and your co-parent temporarily reducing the child support payments. Until a parent requests a change to their current child support, the obligation to pay continues and amounts owed for past months (or years) generally cannot be modified going backward.
In addition to potential termination or non-voluntary reduction in pay, there are a variety of other issues that may impact child support during the COVID-19 crises including:
- Receipt of unemployment benefits
- Receipt of COVID-19 related economic stimulus payments
- Reduction or elimination of private school expenses
- Reduction or elimination of child care cost due to suspension of school classes or child care
- Health insurance changes
- Loss of income due to non-job related income streams like rent or investments
Should you choose to file a request with the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) or a Pre-Decree/Post-Decree Motion with Family Court, expect a substantial delay for a scheduled hearing as all non-essential hearings have been postponed past June 15, 2020. In the alternative, any signed written agreement with your co-parent will likely be more efficient and should be filed with Family Court.
If you are the payee receiving child support payments from the payor, and you receive your payments through CSEA, your payments will still continue to be processed. Pursuant to Governor Ige’s mandate, the CSEA office is closed to the public. Customer service representatives will not be available while the office is closed.
If you have any questions regarding child support modifications, or on how the COVID-19 affects your legal issues, take the next step and call (808) 539-1100 or email Family@HawaiiLegal.com so we can provide you with the personal attention you need to resolve your legal issues
Access to Family Court
COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of our daily lives, even our court systems. On March 16, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court made his first order limiting in-person appearances and postponing all divorce and paternity hearings until after April 30, 2020. Only hearings on extreme matters, such as Temporary Restraining Orders, would be considered, needing approval in advance by a judge.
By a further recent order, some contested hearings may begin if tools such as videoconferencing and telephone appearances can be used. However, there is no certainty on when this might start, how it might take place and what hearings might qualify.
So what does that mean for you and your access to the Family Court?
The Family Court remains open for some basic services in an effort to resolve matters that are not disputed. These services include starting new divorce and paternity cases, filing motions and reviewing agreements such as Stipulations and Divorce Decrees.
Please keep in mind that in-person filing has been suspended for the time being and the physical Family Court buildings are closed to the general public unless you have a hearing date. The court is currently allowing attorneys to submit documents via email. You are also able to visit the Family Court’s website to access any of the forms needed to complete your own family law case (Divorce, Paternity, Child Support, Civil Union, Temporary Restraining Order, Adoption, Guardianship).
If you have any questions regarding submitting documents, beginning a family law case, or on how the COVID-19 affects your legal issues, take the next step and call (808) 539-1100 or email Family@HawaiiLegal.com so we can provide you with the personal attention you need to resolve your legal issues.
PMK Partner Christian P. Porter was a speaker at The Douglas Trade Show sponsored by Hawaiian Properties held on March 11. Speakers presented on the obligations and objectives of a Community Association Board, and how to become an effective member. Porter discussed fiduciary duty and avoiding exposure.