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The Hawaii 2014 Child Support Guidelines and Exceptional Circumstances warranting deviation from the Guidelines.

The Family Courts of Hawaii have adopted new 2014 Child Support Guidelines (“Guidelines”), effective February 15, 2015. The 2014 Guidelines are available here: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/form/oahu/child_support/child_support_guidelines.pdf. The guidelines will be revised every four years, so the next revision will be in 2018.

These guidelines apply to the entire State of Hawaii in all divorce, paternity and other proceedings involving child support orders after February 15, 2015 in both the Family Courts and the Office of Child Support Hearings. The Guidelines are grounded in state law, case law and court rules.

The Guidelines also make changes to the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (“Worksheet”). An automated Worksheet is available at http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/form/oahu/child_support/csg_a_child_support_worksheet.pdf. The Worksheet is now more user friendly, allowing parties to simply enter information into the yellow boxes. Another big change is that the references to the parties are no longer “Mother” and “Father” but “Parent (A)” and “Parent (B)”, reflecting the State’s recognition of civil unions and same sex marriages. The calculations have been updated slightly to consider and reflect inflation.

What do you need to know about the Guidelines and the Worksheet? The first rule is that Hawaii law regarding child support provides that there is an automatic presumption that child support shall be paid pursuant to the Guidelines. In other words, once you input each parent’s gross income, the amount(s) paid for medical and child care for the subject children (if any), and indicate the type of timesharing arrangement the parents will have with the children (sole, equal-timesharing, split, or extensive), then the obligor (person who pays child support) must pay the dollar figure reflected in the Worksheet as child support.

The only time that the parties can avoid paying child support pursuant to the amount calculated in the Worksheet is if an exceptional circumstance exists. The parent requesting the deviation from the Worksheet has the burden of proving that an exception circumstance exists. Whether an exceptional circumstance exists is determined by the court on a case-by-case basis (meaning, that just because your friend proved an exceptional circumstance, does not mean that you will be successful in proving an exceptional circumstance. Instead, each case is looked at independently based upon the facts applicable to it).

Common examples of exceptional circumstances are that the obligor has to pay child support for additional children, the children or the other parent have extraordinary needs (such as a physical or emotional disability), other payments are required by court order or law to the other parent, the support amount exceeds the needs of the children, or the support amount exceeds 70% of the payor’s gross income. New to the Guidelines is the ability to argue that a child’s private school expense is an exceptional circumstance that warrants deviation. Private school expenses are only tuition, books and required fees for grades Kindergarten through 12. It also only includes academic summer school. It should be noted that the Guidelines make it clear that one parent’s remarriage to an individual who has a child from another relationship and now has to support the step child is NOT considered an exceptional circumstance.

If you are contemplating divorce or are separating from your significant other whom you have minor children with, and are wondering what your legal rights are pertaining to child support, please contact our law office at 242-9350 to schedule a consultation.

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