Child custody often requires lots of negotiation. The sooner you start working with a trusted child custody attorney, the sooner you can find a solution. Call Michael Fayard at 808-475-6708 to set up a time to talk.

Child Custody in Hawaii

Hawaii laws protect the parent-child relationship, allow for the establishment of grandparents’ rights, and strive to serve the child. There are two types of custody in Hawaii, and it’s essential to know your rights regarding both.

Physical Custody

Physical custody determines who the child lives with. A parent may have sole physical custody, where the child lives with them most of the time while spending some time with the other parent.

Parents can also have joint physical custody, which allows the child to spend about the same amount of time with each parent. If one parent has been violent to the child or the other parent, the court may deny physical custody or limit visitation.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to each parent’s right to participate in decisions regarding their child’s health care, education, and religion. In most situations, shared legal custody is the preferred option, as it preserves both parents’ rights.

If one parent consistently acts against the child’s best interests, shared legal custody may not be awarded. This may require the other parent to file a petition with the court requesting sole legal custody.


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Establishing Child Custody in Hawaii

In many situations, parents collaborate to determine a custody agreement that meets their child’s needs. This is often the best outcome since it keeps the decision-making in the parents’ hands. If you work with your co-parent to draft a custody schedule and agreement, you can schedule the school year, summer care, holidays, and weekends.

If the parents cannot agree, communication typically occurs between child custody attorneys. Several factors can influence child custody in Hawaii, all of which concern the child’s best interests.

The Child’s Best Interest

When custody is disputed in Hawaii, the court will look at what is in the child’s best interest. If either parent has a domestic violence conviction or a history of criminal behavior that would endanger the child—driving while impaired when caring for the child, for example—the court will consider that.

They will also look at the parent’s willingness to maintain the child’s relationship with the other parent, which parent can provide stability, the specific needs of the child based on their stage of development, who served as the child’s primary caretaker before the split, and the child’s preference.

What About the Child’s Preference?

Some states have a specific age where they will consider what a child wants when making custody determinations. Hawaii is not one of those states. The judge may weigh a child’s preference in their decision if the child appears to understand what they are requesting and has a valid reason for their preference. In many cases, this is around the preteen or teen years.

In the past, custody determinations have been made based on the preference of a toddler. This law also extends to foster situations, as the court has awarded guardianship to non-parents based on the child’s preferences.


Until a father has established paternity under Hawaii Family Court laws, he has no rights to his child. That’s why it’s so important to establish paternity as soon as possible. If a child is born to a married couple or a couple that marries shortly after birth, paternity is automatically established. Paternity may already be established if the father willingly signs a birth certificate or a paternity agreement.

If a father does not yet have paternal rights, he should file a paternity lawsuit. By proving paternity via DNA testing and/or an established father-child relationship, he may have paternity established by the court. At that point, he can gain visitation or custody rights.

Child Support & Custody

Child custody also affects child support in Hawaii. The child support guidelines set forth under Hawaii law include calculations for both physical custody agreements where one parent has primary custody and agreements where custody is equal. While these estimations are helpful, it’s usually wise to consult a lawyer about how a custody agreement impacts what you will pay or receive regarding child support.

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Modifying Child Custody in Hawaii

Once child custody is established, it isn’t necessarily permanent. There are circumstances under which custody may be revisited.
For instance, If one parent’s work schedule changes to the point that they can no longer honor the current agreement, a schedule change may be necessary.

Additionally, if one parent moves away or wants to move with the child, the court will decide what is best for the child in question. Agreements may also change based on the preferences of the parents or the child.

Contact a Honolulu Child Custody Lawyer

If you’re ready to work with a child custody lawyer in Honolulu to establish and protect your rights as a parent, Michael Fayard is prepared to help you. Whether you want to establish custody as a divorcing parent, figure out custody with your co-parent you’ve never been married to, or change the terms of a current agreement, let’s set up a consultation and figure out what you need. Just reach out online or call 808-650-5250 to get started.