Child Custody Laws in Hawaii

Hawaii may be located rather far from the rest of the country, but some of their laws regarding child custody are rather similar to those in other states. Even though this is the case, child custody laws are still complex in every state, and you will want to become familiar with Hawaii child custody laws before filing for custody here. Here are some things you will want to know about Hawaii child custody laws.

Types of child custody recognized by Hawaiian law

In Hawaii, legal custody indicates a parent's right to make decisions concerning the child's life. These decisions include where the child will go to school or what kind of medical care they will receive. Legal custody is granted to parents on a legal or sole basis, depending on what the court deems is in the best interests of the child. Aside from legal custody, physical custody indicates who the child lives with. A parent may be granted sole physical custody, which means that they are the primary physical custodian for the child. On the other hand, parents could be granted joint physical custody, which means that the child spends equal, or close-to-equal, time living with each parent. Extensive visitation may also be granted, which means that one parent does have sole physical custody while the other parent has a significant amount of visitation time with the child. 

In determining how custody will be allocated between parents, a Hawaiian judge will evaluate the best interests of the child. A child's best interests will be assessed by reviewing factors that influence the health and overall well being of the child. These factors may include a child's relationship with each of their parents, and checking for a history of abuse or neglect towards the child by either parent. Hawaii child custody laws also allow for a judge to consider expert testimony while evaluating a child's best interests. A judge may also take into consideration the wishes of the child only if the child is old enough to make intelligent decisions.  

High conflict cases and Hawaii child custody laws

In a high conflict situation between parents, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to review the case and make a recommendation on child custody. A judge may also appoint a custody evaluator to inspect the child's welfare in the homes of both parents. The recommendations of the guardian ad litem or custody evaluator will be strongly considered by a Hawaiian judge, but the judge is still able to set aside these recommendations while making their final ruling. 

Hawaii child custody laws also calls for an examination of the family's history for any acts of violence committed by either parent. If a parent is found to have committed family violence, then it is very unlikely for a Hawaiian judge to grant joint or sole physical custody to that parent. While this is the case, it is possible for the accused parent to be granted supervised visitation. The judge may also order this parent to attend counseling. 

While educating yourself on child custody laws in Hawaii is helpful, it is more important that you seek actual legal guidance from a legal professional such as a family law attorney. This information should not be considered legal advice. For family law resources in your area, check out our Hawaiian resources page. No matter the case, the OurFamilyWizard website is dedicated to help families maintain communication and more easily manage their custody agreement.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.