Hawaii Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements

How do I make my Hawaii parenting plan / child custody agreement?

You can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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The Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS §571-46.5) mandates that a parenting plan should be submitted by both parties involved in a contested child custody proceeding. You can mutually agree upon a plan and submit it jointly, or you may indicate your individual desires and submit your suggested plans separately and let the court decide.

Below you will find some information that may help you as you make your parenting plan.

In Hawaii, what should I include in my parenting plan / custody agreement?

A parenting plan in the State of Hawaii may include:

  • A basic child visitation schedule/residential schedule. This should be as detailed as possible in order to provide the child with stability and to avoid any discrepancies and future disputes.
  • A schedule for holidays, vacations, birthdays and other special days. Work and school furloughs may also be included. This schedule should also be detailed and include the times the special days begin and end. Plan for three-day weekends and whether the parent with parenting time that weekend should have the child for the additional day.
  • Provisions designating the decision-making rights and all other responsibilities of each parent. This can include assigning one or both parents to be responsible for seeking non-emergency medical care, transporting the child to extracurricular activities, attending parent-teacher conferences, etc.
  • Any applicable provisions pertaining to breast-feeding the child, and whether or not the baby will be formula-fed on occasion or have bottled milk provided by the mother.
  • Statements that provide the parents the right to access the child's records and important information, such as school records, medical information and religious activities.
  • A stipulation for the protocol if a parent should decide to relocate, or any stipulations that require the parents to maintain a residence within certain boundaries, such as remaining in the same city, residing within 20 miles of the child's school, or remaining on the island.
  • Provisions for parent-child communication, such as phone, email and other electronic methods, providing the child liberal access to each parent and defining what reasonable contact the parent may have with the child.
  • A first right of refusal clause that states each parent will contact the other parent prior to seeking third-party services in order to offer the other parent the opportunity for extra parenting time in the event child care is needed, and an outline of the process in which to do so.
  • Provisions regarding the transportation of the child during parental exchanges, including who will be responsible for transporting the child, the location of exchanges, and who will be responsible for any incurred expenses.
  • A system for modifying the parenting plan, a method of enforcing the plan, and provisions for resolving any future disputes.

What other provisions may I include in my Hawaii parenting plan?

The State of Hawaii is very generous with parenting plans and allows as many details and provisions to be included in the agreement as the parents deem necessary. This allows you to address as many aspects of raising your child as you would like.

For example, you may include provisions for your child's personal belongings, and whether these items will be transported back and forth between the two homes, as well as whether your child's clothing should be returned after each visit or if it's acceptable to share clothes between the two homes.

Planning ahead and adding provisions to meet your child's future needs, such as who will be responsible for paying for orthodontics or car insurance, agreeing upon what age your child should be allowed to date, or whether or not a disciplinary punishment, such as being grounded from the television, should be continued at the other parent's home or not.

You are basically free to include anything you want to in the parenting plan. Making a thoroughly detailed plan will help you in the long run by preventing future disagreements.

In Hawaii, what happens if we are unable to agree on a plan?

If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent when creating the parenting plan, the court may order you to participate in a form of dispute resolution and/or counseling in an effort to help you come to an agreement.

The court recognizes the best interests of the child are of the utmost importance when ruling on child custody matters — and that a parenting plan is more effective when created and agreed upon by the parents, not imposed by the court.

However, if you should fail to cooperate, the judge will rule according to the court's interpretation of the best interests of the child and will also hold any recommendations of a mediator in high regard.

Submitting an equitably written parenting plan that supports the welfare, happiness, and best interests of the child is the most likely way to have your parenting plan accepted by the court.

In Hawaii, what does the court consider when ruling on a custody matter?

In all family law cases involving children, the main thing the court considers is the best interest of the child.

The law provides a list of factors that the court considers when determining what constitutes the best interest of the child.

You should also consider these factors when making your agreement because they can serve as a guideline as you make decisions:

  • If there has been any history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect of a child by a parent
  • The overall quality of the parent-child relationship
  • The history of caregiving and parenting by each parent
  • How cooperative each parent has been in developing and implementing a plan and parenting schedule to meet the child's needs and interests
  • Any physical health, emotional, safety and educational needs of the child
  • The child's need for relationships with siblings
  • The willingness of each parent to allow the child to maintain family connections through family events and activities
  • Each parent's actions that demonstrate if they can separate the child's needs from the parent's needs
  • The mental health of each parent
  • The areas and levels of conflict present within the family
  • Any evidence of past or current substance abuse by a parent

Thinking about all of these things can help you make an agreement that will help your child adjust successfully to the new family situation. It can also help you put aside your own wishes and desires so that you can truly focus on what is best for your child.

As you follow the suggestions from the law, you will be able to make an agreement that is acceptable for the court and also works for your situation.

The top ten cities in Hawaii (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Honolulu, Hilo, Kailua, Kaneohe, Waipahu, Pearl City, Waimalu, Mililani Town, Kaului, Kihei.

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