When a couple decides to divorce, one of the most challenging decisions is child custody. Both parents want to be involved in their child’s life but might not be able to agree upon what is in the child’s best interest.
So, what happens when parents can’t agree on their post-divorce child custody arrangements?
What are the different types of custody?
There are two different types of child custody in Hawaii. Legal custody is a parent’s right to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including their education and medical care. Physical custody relates to which parent has the child in their care at any given point.
Sole legal or physical custody of a child is usually only granted when one parent is mentally or physically unable to care for the child’s needs. Joint legal custody means both parents have an equal say in the child’s upbringing, and joint physical custody means the child will spend equal time with each parent.
Who makes the custody decision if the parents cannot agree?
In Hawaii, if parents can’t agree on custody arrangements, a judge will decide based on what is in the child’s best interest. The judge will look at the following factors, among others:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- If there is a history of child abuse or neglect from each parent
- The wishes of the child (depending on the child’s age)
In some cases, a judge may even appoint a third party to review the facts and make a recommendation, as representative for the children’s interests.
Custody disputes can be challenging for the entire family. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to reach out for help so that you protect and preserve that all-important parent-child relationship.