Hawaii Child Support
Hawaii Child support is based on the policy that both parents should be required to financially support their children, even when the children are not living with both parents. Child support payments may include monthly maintenance and support, educational support and medical insurance.
When children live with both parents, courts rarely, if ever direct the parents how to provide financial support for their children. However, when the parents are not together, courts often order one parent to pay the other an amount set as financial support of the child. In such situations, one parent receives child support, and the other parent is ordered to pay child support. The amount of child support is set by a formula estimating what parents should pay to financially support their children.
Child support may be ordered to be paid by one parent to another when one is a noncustodial parent and the other is a custodial parent. Child support may also be ordered when both parents are custodial parents (joint or shared custody) and they share the child-raising responsibilities. In some cases, a parent with sole custody of his or her children may even be ordered to pay child support to the noncustodial parent to support the children while they are in the care of that parent.
Child support paid by a non-custodial parent does not absolve that parent of the responsibility for costs when the child visits with him/her.
In most jurisdictions, there is no need for the parents to be married, and only paternity needs to be demonstrated for a court to order payment of child support. Child support may also be awarded based on the principle of estoppel where a de facto parent acts like a parent for a sufficient time to establish a permanent parental relationship with the child.
In Hawaii, child support is established by either the Family Court or administratively by the Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA).
How is the amount of Hawaii child support determined?
Under Hawaii child support laws both parents have a legal duty to support their children. The Hawaii Child Support Guidelines established by the Family Court uses a mathematical formula to calculate each parent’s support obligation. If a child is a minor, one parent pays his or her child support to the other parent through CSEA, often being withheld from the parent’s wages. Otherwise, it is paid directly to the other parent. However, if a child is 18 or over and lives independently or on a college campus, each parent pays their support obligation directly to the child.
To calculate child support the “gross income” of each parent pre-tax is used. “Gross Income” includes wages, tips, commissions, profit sharing, deferred compensation, spousal support received, investment income, pension income, annuities, social security income, veteran’s benefits, income from self-employment and military base allowances such as basic allowance for housing. Gifts or capital gains, if regular and consistent, also count.
Under the Guidelines, the amount of support needed for the child is based on a formula that adds together the net income of both parents, after taxes and certain basic expenses are deducted.
But which parent is responsible for this support? The Guidelines look at the total net incomes of both parents—if one parent makes 60% of that total, that parent is responsible for 60% of the support. The other parent is responsible for 40% of the support.
But the Guidelines also take into account how much time the child lives with each parent based on the custody and time-sharing schedule. Three types of time sharing schedules are recognized by the Guidelines: joint physical custody, “primary” physical custody to one parent, and extensive visitation (which is less than joint physical custody but greater than 143 days/year). The calculation of child support is therefore based on two factors: 1) the income ratio of the parties and 2) how much time the child resides with each parent.
The Family Court or CSEA is required to calculate child support consistent with these Guidelines unless there is a finding of “exceptional circumstances.” Examples include where child support exceeds 70% of net income, where the paying parent also pays child support for other children, where the child has extraordinary needs, where the paying parent has limited ability to earn income, or where the calculated support would exceed the reasonable financial needs of the child.
Support continues until a child is no longer a dependent by reaching the Hawaii child support age limit of 18 or until graduation from high school. If a child continues his or her education post high school at an accredited college, university or trade school, the child support obligation of both parents continues for so long as the dependent remains a full-time student until either graduation or attaining the age of 23 whichever occurs first.
In addition to basic child support the Family Court has the authority to determine which parent must provide medical and dental insurance, medical co-payments, child care expenses, private education expenses and even college tuition.
Child support is always subject to modification if there is a material change in the financial circumstances of either or both parents. The Family Court or CSEA may also modify child support every 3 years or if financial circumstances have changed to the extent that the recalculated child support is 105% greater or less than the original support order.
Congress has required the states to enact the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) which requires the states to enforce the support orders of other states.
In general, a non-custodial parent can expect about 10% of his or her gross monthly income to go towards Hawaii child support payments. Needless to say, especially in Hawaii, that’s just a fraction of what it actually costs to raise a child. Furthermore, the U.S. Census Bureau states that in 2011, only 38% of custodial parents with child support orders actually received the full amount of support owed to them.