The separation of parents in a family can have a significant impact on the life of a child. The income of one parent alone may not be sufficient to take appropriate care of the child or meet all needs. Based on this consideration, child support laws in the state of Hawaii exist to protect children from hardships they would have otherwise encountered due to the separation of their parents. Child support refers to periodic payments made (usually monthly) by one parent to another parent as an obligation for the upbringing of their child/children.
Child Support Process After Divorce
Parents who wish to get child support must apply through the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General and pay a $25 application fee. The fee is waived for those receiving Medicaid or TANF support, however. Parents are encouraged to file their application as soon as possible because the child support payments will be charged from the day the support request was filed, not earlier.
When submitting an application, the custodial parent would be required to provide a valid photo ID, proof of residency, birth certificate for the child, and the latest location information of the other parent. The location information is necessary to help the state find the noncustodial parent and serve them a notice of child support.
If there is a dispute on the paternity of the child, the court may order that a DNA test be carried out. This test uses swab samples collected from the alleged father and the child and can determine the paternity with up to 99% accuracy.
When the child’s paternity is verified, a judge presides over the case and determines a reasonable amount to be paid monthly as child support. The judge considers several factors to arrive at this amount. These factors include the income of the parents, the age of the child, the cost of health insurance and other childcare expenses, etc.
Parents may also apply for the modification of an existing child support order if conditions have changed significantly from the time the original order was issued. For additional details, visit https://ag.hawaii.gov/csea/order-processing/.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Parents who receive child support in Hawaii have two options available for them. They can choose to receive the funds through direct deposit or the US Bank ReliaCard. Those who opt for the direct deposit option have to register their bank accounts. After which, they can receive the payments directly into the account (savings or checking).
For parents who do not have a bank account or who do not wish to register their account with the state, the ReliaCard is a valid choice. The ReliaCard is a prepaid debit card that is issued to parents to enable them to receive their child support entitlements. This card can be used to make purchases at sales outlets or to make cash withdrawals. For additional details on the US Bank ReliaCard, visit https://ag.hawaii.gov/csea/receiving-payments-through-reliacard/.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
There is no absolute maximum that a parent can pay as child support. However, there are guidelines for various income levels which are considered to arrive at a final amount. In deciding how much to award as child support, the judge considers the gross income of the parents, their dependents, the needs of the child, the earning potential of the parent (especially necessary when one of the parents remains voluntarily underemployed), etc. These factors are all analyzed carefully and considered before coming to a conclusion on to the final amount that should be paid. Once the child support obligation is agreed upon, the noncustodial parent must make payments until the child is at least 18 years old. This may be extended until the child is 23 years old if he/she is enrolled in a full-time college, university, or trade school.
It is important to note that while there is no absolute maximum child support payment, the minimum payment is $70 per child per month. A sample child support calculator, as well as details regarding the payment amount, can be found at https://www.alllaw.com/calculators/childsupport/hawaii. The exact amount specified in the court order may vary according to the discretion of the presiding judge.
Enforcement of Child Support
When the noncustodial parent defaults on their child support obligation, the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) takes certain actions to ensure that the payments are made. Most of the enforcement activities are automatically initiated and the custodial parent does not need to lay a complaint before action is taken. Some of the measures employed to enforce compliance are withholding income from paychecks, intercepting tax refunds and lottery winnings, making reports to credit agencies, denying passport applications, suspending licenses, placing liens on properties, etc. Further information on the child support enforcement actions taken in Hawaii can be found at https://ag.hawaii.gov/csea/enforcement/.