Home  Custody

Custody and Child Support

[Please see below and the divorce page for fees and costs.]

Custody cases are often the most difficult family law cases. Parents often do not realize that they are fighting over something besides the children, instead focusing all of their emotions about the divorce and the marriage before the divorce on what the children mean to them. In some cases, parents fight to get their children's voices heard regarding their new living arrangements. Children do not have a direct voice in Hawaii custody cases despite a law saying that a child's desires will be taken into account when the child reaches an age where she can reasonably express them, because Hawaii courts will almost always decline to talk to a child or let a child testify. We encourage child-centered mediation in cases where the parties can benefit from it. Sometimes it is necessary to go to court and other times the parties or the court decide to engage a child custody evaluator.

Child support is determined by a formula into which is put each parent's income and child-related expenses. The absolute minimum per child is only $70 a month. The formula is rarely deviated from, and can be found at http://hawaii.gov/jud/childpp.htm.

Exceptional circumstances can justify deviation from the guidelines, but they are limited and do not include, for instance, a parent having new children in a new marriage or a new spouse who needs support. A high-earning parent might qualify for deviation from the guidelines.

A child support order is never final and a parent can file for adjustment whenever there is a significant change in income (up or down, for either parent).

Child custody is always determined by the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child will depend on all the circumstances. A young child will have different needs than an older one. The Family Court is involved and up-to-date on research for each age group and also considers the individual facts and circumstances.

If there has been family violence, the presumption is against the perpetrator. If you are alleging family violence or have been accused of it, special care is needed.

A common concern is whether a parent can move out of state with the child after divorce. The answer is, "Maybe." If the parent moving is the custodial parent and this is in the child's best interests, there is a good possibility it will be allowed. The other parent has the right to object even though the other has custody.

Fees: Custody cases are on an retainer basis with an hourly fee of $270. The retainer amount varies depending on the case and starts at $3,500. Pay-as-you-go arrangements without a retainer are available for limited representation. Please see the divorce page for those options.

***This is a very basic outline of child support and custody. There are also issues between unmarried partners, of child support governed by Hawaii's Uniform Parentage Act, of separation agreements governing child support, Hawai'i's Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (Haw. Rev. Stat. Chapter 583), Parental Kidnapping Act of 1980, and more.

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Neither this communication nor any email transmission from our office ("Law Office of Alethea Rebman" or "Alethea Kyoko Rebman LLLC") may have shall be construed as providing either legal advice or representation unless and until appropriate retainer documents are reviewed and signed.