Divorcing parents who are working out a child custody agreement are expected to consider, first and foremost, what's in the best interests of their children. If you and your co-parent can't work this out with the help of your attorneys and the custody arrangement needs to be made by a Hawaii judge, that judge's primary criteria will be what's best for the children.
Of course, all parents think that they know what's in their children's best interests. However, a judge will consider a number of factors.
The judge will look closely at both of the parents. If there has been any history of neglect or of physical, emotional or sexual abuse by either parent or any domestic violence in the home, naturally that will be a key consideration. Any history of drug abuse will also be considered, as will any past or current mental health issues.
Judges also look at the relationship of the parents with the child. A judge may call witnesses who can talk about a parent's relationship with a child. Both the quantity and quality of time spent together are key. They want to see that a parent has been engaged in frequent and meaningful contact with that child. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, a judge may ask for his or her feelings and input on the matter.
Parents seeking custody rights must be able to show that they are able to provide financially for the child and that they are physically and emotionally able to care for that child. A judge will ask about the living arrangements in each home. In some cases, a judge may call in expert witnesses and even order an evaluation of both parents' homes.
Judges want to see parents who cooperate with one another, regardless of their feelings toward each other, for the good of their children. They also want to see parents who are willing to listen to the judge and follow his or her directives.
Considering all of these factors, Hawaii judges will make their custody and visitation decisions based on a child's emotional, physical and educational needs.
If you are seeking custody of your child in a divorce or a modification to your current custody agreement, it's essential to listen to your family law attorney's advice on how to make the strongest possible case for what you're seeking.
Source: The Spruce, "Child Custody in Hawaii," Debrina Washington, accessed April 06, 2018