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Modifying your custody order in Hawaii

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Family and Divorce Law

In an ideal world, custody orders would be permanent, lasting until your children become adults. However, this situation is rare.

Whether your custody order was entered into by agreement between you and your co-parent, or through an order by a judge after a trial, there is likely to come a time when the terms of the order need to be changed.

There are various reasons that you might want to modify the terms of your custody order.

Common reasons for modification

As children get older, their lives often become busier. This might make your current custody schedule difficult or impossible to follow.

Your children might also express a clear desire to change the schedule or spend more or less time with one parent. While a child never truly gets to choose their custody schedule, no matter their age, their wishes are a factor considered by a court.

The reason for the modification might involve you or your co-parent. Perhaps one of you switched jobs or relocated, leaving the terms of your custody order impractical.

All these could be legitimate reasons to modify a custody order. The easiest way to modify a custody order in Hawaii is to discuss the issue with your co-parent.

Modification through agreement

If you both agree on the proposed modifications, you can write your new agreement and submit it to the court, where it will become a court order. A hearing is not necessary.

Courts typically approve changes that are agreed upon by both parents unless the agreement appears to be blatantly unfair to one parent. In that case, the court may schedule a hearing with the parents to obtain more information on the situation.

Modification without an agreement

The custody modification process becomes more difficult when only one parent wants the modifications. If you want or need to change your custody order but your co-parent does not agree, you will need to file a petition with the court.

Your petition must allege a change in circumstances and show why your proposed modifications are in the best interest of your children.

A hearing will be held on your petition. You must be prepared to present evidence of how the current situation has changed and how that makes your current custody order difficult or impossible to follow. You must also show that your proposed modifications will be beneficial to your children.

Why the odds might not be in your favor

This is often a high burden to meet. Courts are sometimes reluctant to modify custody orders and disrupt a child’s routine, which is often seen as a sign of stability.

Because of this, you must have strong evidence that your children will benefit from the change and that these benefits outweigh any temporary disruption in their routine.

Courts generally do not like to see custody orders changed frequently. This could also be seen as a sign of instability on the part of one or both parents.

Therefore, before you decide to file a petition to modify your custody order, you should thoroughly examine your situation and decide if it is the best option.