Hawaii's child guardianship laws are similar to child guardianship laws in other states. The best interests of the child play a large role in determining whether or not a person can attain guardianship of a child. Child guardianship cases are generally handled by family court, the same court that rules over custody and adoption cases. Guardianship is important to the health and welfare of children in Hawaii, and in other states.
Uniform Child Custody Act
In 1973, Hawaii adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (Section 571-46). The act states that the "best interests of the child" are the top priority in child custody and guardianship cases. If it is felt that the child would benefit most from it, then a non-parent party can be awarded guardianship of a child.
What Is A Guardian?
A guardian In Hawaii is a person appointed to see to the basic needs of the child. Those needs include shelter, education, medical care, personal needs and, in some cases, the assets of the child. Guardianships do not sever the legal tie between the child and his legal parents; the legal parents must still provide financial support to the child. Guardianships do, however, allow a guardian to enroll a child in school and make medical decisions.
Guardian Ad Litem and Guardian of Estate
Two other types of child guardianships that are fairly common in Hawaii are a guardian ad litem and a guardian of estate. A guardian ad litem is a guardian appointed to the child by the state during a court proceeding. A guardian of estate manages a child's financial assets, such as inheritance and income, until the child reaches adulthood. A guardian of estate can be the legal parent of the child or a non-parent.
Deployed Parent Guardianship
As of 2010, Hawaii adopted a new law that expedites custody cases involving military parents about to deploy and states that deployment status cannot be used against parents in custody cases. The law also allows a guardian to be assigned to the child in place of a parent during the parent's deployment to maintain custody agreements.