WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: Hawaii

Custody

Updated: 
May 28, 2020

How will a judge make a decision about custody and visitation?

A judge decides custody and visitation orders according to what the judge considers to be in the child’s best interest.1 To decide what is in the best interest of the child, the judge must consider several factors, including, but not limited to:

  • a parent’s history of sexual or physical abuse of any of your children;
  • a parent’s history of neglect or emotional abuse of any of your children;
  • the quality of the parent-child relationship;
  • each parent’s history of caregiving or parenting before and after any type of marital separation or relationship ending;
  • each parent’s cooperation in creating and carrying out a plan that meets the child’s needs, interests, and schedule; however, this factor will not be considered if the judge finds that one parent has committed family violence;
  • the physical health needs and emotional needs of the child;
  • the safety and educational needs of the child;
  • the child’s need for a relationship with his/her siblings;
  • each parent’s actions showing that s/he allows the child to continue a relationship with family members through family events and activities; however, this factor will not be considered if the judge finds that one parent has committed family violence;
  • each parent’s actions showing that s/he separates the child’s needs from the parent’s needs;
  • evidence of each parent’s past or current alcohol or drug abuse;
  • each parent’s mental health;
  • the reason for, and level of, conflict present within the family; and
  • a parent’s prior and purposeful misuse of the protection from abuse restraining order process to gain an advantage in the custody process.2

Note: The judge cannot consider a parent’s disability as the only factor when making a decision about custody or visitation. If there is an allegation that a parent’s disability impairs his/her parenting ability, it must be proven by showing a clear connection between the disability and the alleged inability to be a good parent.3

1 HI ST § 571-46(a)(1)
2 HI ST § 571-46(b)
3 HI ST § 571-46.6