Order Processing

Child support orders can be established, modified, or terminated by the Family Court or by the Child Support Enforcement Agency. While the Family Court uses the judicial process when issuing orders, the Child Support Enforcement Agency utilizes an administrative process. Administrative orders have the same force and effect as the orders issued by the Family Court.


Order Establishment

All parents have a legal duty to support their children financially. Orders for child support may be obtained when one or both parents are not providing financial support for his or her children. Orders for child support may be issued at any time during a physical separation of the parents, during the course of a divorce proceeding, or when the children receive certain types of public assistance from the State of Hawaii, Department of Human Services.

Orders for child support may be established through the Family Court or through the Child Support Enforcement Agency. The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) uses an administrative process where administrative hearings officers from the Office of Child Support Hearings issue decisions relating to child support.

The administrative process begins with a proposed administrative order being sent to the parties by certified mail. If the parties are not served by certified mail, an attempt is made to personally serve the proposed administrative order on the parties. If both parties cannot be served, the administrative process stops and further action cannot be taken until information on where the party can be served is obtained by the CSEA. When a party is served, he/she has the right to request an administrative hearing if the party disagrees with the proposed administrative order. The request for an administrative hearing must be made within ten (10) days of being served with the proposed administrative order. When a request for an administrative hearing is received, a hearing is scheduled only when both parties have been served. If both parties have been served and no one has requested a hearing, the proposed administrative order is processed as an uncontested action.

A child support order is issued by an administrative hearings officer after a hearing or as a result of an uncontested action is filed with the Family Court. The child support order issued in this manner has the same force and authority as the child support orders issued by the Family Court.

The amount of child support payable by a parent is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines take into account each parent’s capacity to contribute income toward the support of their children. The calculations begin with a determination of both parents’ gross monthly income and the minimum support needs of the children. The cost of health insurance coverage for the children and child care expenses for the working parent are factors in the calculation. The amount of child support calculated using the Guidelines must be followed unless the Family Court or administrative hearings officer finds that there is an exceptional circumstance which allows for the departure from the Guidelines amount. The Guidelines set a minimum child support amount of $70.00 per child per month.

On December 19, 2003, the President of the United States signed into law H.R. 100, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) (Public Law 108-189). The SCRA is a federal law that protects active duty military members and reservists or members of the National Guard called to active duty. It permits active duty servicemembers, who are unable to appear in a court or administrative proceeding due to their military duties, to suspend or postpone the proceeding. The SCRA requires that the initiating party file an affidavit stating whether or not they have evidence that the other party is on active duty in a proceeding in which the other party does not appear. It provides for fines and/or imprisonment for a person who knowingly makes a false affidavit or other verification document. Because of the SCRA, administrative actions taken by the CSEA may be delayed or suspended.


Order Modification

An order for child support may be modified if a change in the circumstances of either parent has occurred since the order was originally issued or at least three years have passed since the order was last reviewed for a modification. The party seeking the modification may choose to start the process by going through the Family Court or by applying for services with the CSEA. When applying for services with the CSEA, the party must make a request for modification in writing and must provide his/her current financial information such as copies of pay stubs or filed tax returns. The CSEA uses an administrative process where administrative hearings officers from the Office of Child Support Hearings issue decisions relating to child support.

Upon receiving a written request for modification, the administrative process begins with a Notice of Child Support Review being sent to the parties to inform them that the existing child support order is being reviewed for a possible modification. The notice also requests that the parties provide updated financial information to the CSEA. A proposed administrative order or a Notice of No Support Change is then sent to the parties by certified mail. If the parties are not served by certified mail, an attempt is made to personally serve the proposed administrative order on the parties or if the circumstances allow, the parties are served by sending the proposed administrative order to them by regular mail. If both parties cannot be served, the administrative process stops and further action cannot be taken until information on where the party can be served is obtained by the CSEA. When a party is served, he/she has the right to request an administrative hearing if the party disagrees with the proposed administrative order. For order modification, the request for an administrative hearing must be made within thirty (30) days of being served with the proposed administrative order. When a request for an administrative hearing is received, a hearing is scheduled only when both parties have been served. If both parties have been served and no one has requested a hearing, the proposed administrative order is processed as an uncontested action.

A child support order is issued by an administrative hearings officer after a hearing or as a result of an uncontested action is filed with the Family Court. Until the “new” administrative order is signed and filed, the prior child support order continues to be in effect. The child support order issued through the administrative process has the same force and authority as the child support orders issued by the Family Court.

The amount of child support payable by a parent is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines take into account each parent’s capacity to contribute income toward the support of their children. The calculations begin with a determination of both parents’ gross monthly income and the minimum support needs of the children. The cost of health insurance coverage for the children and child care expenses for the working parent are factors in the calculation. The amount of child support calculated using the Guidelines must be followed unless the Family Court or administrative hearings officer finds that there is an exceptional circumstance which allows for the departure from the Guidelines amount. The Guidelines set a minimum child support amount of $70.00 per child per month.

On December 19, 2003, the President of the United States signed into law H.R. 100 (Public Law 108-189), the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA is a federal law that protects active duty military members and reservists or members of the National Guard called to active duty. It permits active duty servicemembers, who are unable to appear in a court or administrative proceeding due to their military duties, to suspend or postpone the proceeding. The SCRA requires that the initiating party file an affidavit stating whether or not they have evidence that the other party is on active duty in a proceeding in which the other party does not appear. It provides for fines and/or imprisonment for a person who knowingly makes a false affidavit or other verification document. Because of the SCRA, administrative actions taken by the CSEA may be delayed or suspended.


Order Termination

Hawaii child support orders normally have provisions indicating when a parent’s obligation to pay child support will end. This usually occurs when the child turns eighteen (18) years of age unless the child is attending high school or the child is under twenty-three (23) years of age and is presently enrolled as a full-time student or has been accepted into and plans to attend as a full-time student for the next semester a post-high school university, college, or vocational school. Other conditions for termination that are normally indicated in child support orders are death, emancipation, marriage, and adoption of the subject child.

If there is a situation where the child support obligation should be terminated and there is no provision in the child support order applicable to the situation, the Hawaii child support order may be terminated through the Family Courts or through the Hawaii Child Support Enforcement Agency, or CSEA. The CSEA uses an administrative process where administrative hearings officers from the Office of Child Support Hearings issue decisions relating to child support.

The administrative process begins with a proposed administrative order being sent to the parties by certified mail. If the parties are not served by certified mail, an attempt is made to personally serve the proposed administrative order on the parties or if the circumstances allow, the parties are served by sending the proposed administrative order to them by regular mail. If both parties cannot be served, the administrative process stops and further action cannot be taken until information on where the party can be served is obtained by the CSEA. When a party is served, he/she has the right to request an administrative hearing if the party disagrees with the proposed administrative order. The request for an administrative hearing must be made within ten (10) days of being served with the proposed administrative order. When a request for an administrative hearing is received, a hearing is scheduled only when both parties have been served. If both parties have been served and no one has requested a hearing, the proposed administrative order is processed as an uncontested action.

An order terminating child support is issued by an administrative hearings officer after a hearing or as a result of an uncontested action is filed with the Family Court. The administrative order issued in this manner has the same force and authority as the child support orders issued by the Family Court.

Where child support continues for a child over eighteen years of age due to continued schooling on a full-time basis, the custodial parent and/or the subject child is responsible for providing verification on a regular basis of such continued education. If the adult child does not attend school on a full-time basis or if there is a break in the continuing education, child support will be stopped.

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