When parents in Hawaii cannot reach agreements cooperatively regarding the care and custody of their children, the decision falls to the court. To make their decisions, family law judges may hear testimony, review evidence and consider a wide range of factors. At Coates Frey & Hackett, AAL LLLC, we have helped many parents understand how the court determines the best interests of the child and have aided them in preparing for their custody hearings.
Under Hawaii state law, family law judges may consider the history of your and your former partner’s contributions to your child’s caregiving and parenting. The court also looks at the existing relationships between you and your child, and between your child and his or her other parent. Further, family law judges may take into account your willingness, and that of your child’s other parent, to develop and implement a plan to meet your child’s needs, schedule and interests, as well as to encourage and allow the child to remain connected to the non-custodial parent’s family.
Where it is appropriate, based on age and maturity, the court may give weight to your child’s custody preferences. Family law judges also account for your child’s physical, emotional, safety and educational needs when considering custody orders. If you or your child’s other parent have other children, together or from a prior relationship, the court considers your child’s need to maintain those sibling relationships.
In making their decisions, family law judges will look closely at your and your child’s other parent’s fitness. This includes considering each of your mental health, and whether either of you has a previously or is currently abusing drugs or alcohol. Additionally, the court accounts for the types and severity of any conflict within your family, as well as any history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect by you or your child’s other parent.
Keeping these factors in mind as you head into your child custody hearing may be key to establishing a plan through which your child can thrive. More information about custody arrangements is available on our web page.