Law Office of Mei Nakamoto
Hawaii Divorce And Family Law Attorneys

Child Custody And Support Lawyers In Honolulu

The family law attorneys at the Law Office of Mei Nakamoto have extensive experience helping parents resolve child custody disputes and create effective, enforceable parenting plans.

When parents disagree about child custody, often their biggest fear is losing their children. We would like to emphasize that this not the outcome in the vast majority of child custody cases. The reality is that courts in Hawaii recognize the importance of keeping both parents active in their child's life. The difficulty comes when parents disagree about how much to keep both parents actively involved in parenting.

If you have questions or concerns about child custody, contact our law office in Honolulu. We advise and represent parents throughout Hawaii.

What We Do To Help

Our general approach to resolving child custody disputes is to encourage continuing peacefulness between parents and help them create a detailed, legally enforceable schedule. With an enforceable plan in place, the parents have a legal document to fall back on if parental collaboration comes to a halt and the matter requires court or police intervention.

With that said, it is crucial to have an experienced child custody attorney on your side to ensure that your rights and interests — and those of your child — are fully protected. At the Law Office of Mei Nakamoto, we help parents, including unmarried parents, resolve child custody and child support issues in and out of court.

If a dispute cannot be resolved through out-of-court negotiation or mediation, we do not hesitate to litigate to safeguard our clients' parental rights.

Child Custody Law In Hawaii

In Hawaii, the term "child custody" refers to two parts: legal custody and physical custody. Each type is independent of the other. In other words, having a certain type of physical custody will not automatically determine what type of legal custody will be awarded, and legal custody will not automatically determine the type of physical custody that will be awarded.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the right to have access to information about the child and to make major decisions regarding the child, including extracurricular activities and medical, educational and religious matters. Legal custody can be joint or sole, and it does not affect child support, which is linked only to physical custody.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the child lives most of the time. Physical custody can also be labeled joint or sole, but the most important objective is the time-sharing schedule or parenting plan. For example, with the label of "joint physical custody," the child's time with each parent could be divided more or less evenly.

However, exact equality of time should not be the priority. Instead, the priority should be having enough time to meaningfully parent your child. In many cases, child development experts and judges believe a sharing of 70 percent and 30 percent may be in the child's best interest.

With sole physical custody, the child lives mostly with one parent.

Child support amounts will be affected by the number of overnights a parent has with his/her child, and not by labels such as "joint," "sole" or "primary" physical custody. For that reason, seeking a clear, enforceable parenting schedule, instead of fighting over labels, is a better strategy.

In many cases, both parents have joint legal custody while one parent has sole physical custody. In less common cases, one parent has sole legal and physical custody. In all cases, custody is based on what is in the best interest of the child — not necessarily on what is fair or convenient for the parent.

With the help of a Honolulu child custody attorney, your situation can be worked out fairly and in the best interest of your child.

Time-Sharing Rights

In most cases, when a parent has not been given physical custody, he or she receives reasonable visitation or time-sharing rights. Visitation rights are significant and enforceable rights. A custodial parent's interference with those rights, such as relocating the child to another island, the continental United States or a foreign country without the other parent's consent or a court order, can lead to negative consequences for the relocating parent.

Child Custody Decisions In And Out Of Court

A court must consider many factors when determining what type of custody and time-sharing plan would be best for a child. Not every factor will be given the same consideration or weight by the court; some factors may have more influence in a custody dispute.

An experienced Honolulu custody lawyer can help you assess the type of custody that would be best for your child and, if court intervention is necessary or desired, which type of custody is more likely to be acceptable to the court.

If you and the other parent can reach an out-of-court agreement about custody and visitation, the court usually will accept your agreement. However, that agreement may be difficult to modify later if only one of you wants to change it. For that reason, if you have any concerns about entering into a child custody agreement, seek advice from a family law attorney before you consent orally, electronically or in writing.

Hawaii Child Support

In Hawaii, child support is determined based on a standardized set of calculations, unless the court finds "exceptional circumstances" in a particular case. These calculations take into account the custodial parent's minimum needs and costs above his or her own living expenses, combined with the standard of living allowance needs of the children.

In general, parents are allowed to keep enough income to meet their most basic needs and to continue working. Any income above this minimum amount is to be shared by the child so that the child can receive the benefits of a parent's higher standard of living.

Although these concepts seem complex, they are expressed in a pre-determined set of calculations. The only facts that you will be allowed to use to determine your unique situation will be these five: the number of children involved, each parent's gross monthly income, child care expenses, the cost of health insurance for each child, and any spousal support payments one spouse makes to the other. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the court will not consider other facts such as mortgage, rent and/or vehicle payments, other debts, and unexpected expenses.

Whether a parent pays child support — and how much — will depend on those five factors and the number of overnights each parent has with the child or children.

Child support issues become more complex when there is split custody, which occurs when one parent has physical custody of one or more children and the other parent has physical custody of the other children. The issue becomes even more complicated if there are children attending private schools prior to college, and children who will be or are attending college.

Why Having A Family Law Attorney Is So Important

Because of the complexity and emotional nature of child custody and support cases, it is crucial that you have experienced and dedicated legal representation. At the Law Office of Mei Nakamoto, we are committed to assisting clients in these issues.

Our attorneys have experience dealing with particularly difficult cases, including those involving physical and emotional abuse of both the spouse and child, as well as cases in which parents have violated court orders and left with their children.

No matter how complicated, serious or emotionally-charged your situation may be, we can help. Contact the Law Office of Mei Nakamoto today for a consultation regarding your case.

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