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Child support is a crucial but often confusing topic for parents in Hawaii. If you’re a parent wondering how much child support you’ll pay or receive in Hawaii, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Child support amounts in Hawaii are determined based on state guidelines that factor in both parents’ incomes and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. The exact amount can vary widely based on the details of each case.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Hawaii child support laws, including…

Hawaii’s Child Support Guidelines

Income Shares Model

Hawaii utilizes the income shares model to determine child support obligations. This model calculates support based on the combined incomes of both parents and considers the needs of the child. The basic premise is that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income that would have been received if the parents lived together.

The Formula

The child support formula in Hawaii considers the following factors:

  • Gross income of both parents
  • Number of children
  • Cost of health insurance and child care expenses
  • Amount of time each parent spends with the children

Based on these factors, child support payments are calculated to maintain children’s financial status at a level similar to what they would have enjoyed had the marriage not dissolved.

Self-Support Reserve

Hawaii allows for a self-support reserve in its child support calculations. This reserve allows obligor parents to keep enough income to meet their own basic needs. As of 2023, Hawaii’s self-support reserve amount is $1473 per month.

So $1473 of a parent’s monthly income will be protected for their basic self-support when determining the child support obligation.

Factors That Influence Child Support Amounts

Parenting Time

The amount of time each parent spends with the child is a major factor in determining child support payments in Hawaii. If one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent typically pays higher monthly support.

Joint physical custody arrangements usually result in lower payments from the non-primary parent as both share day-to-day expenses. According to a 2002 Connecticut study, fathers with 30% to 39% parenting time paid 25% less child support than non-custodial parents with less visitation.

Income and Earning Capacity

Courts examine both parents’ incomes and earning abilities when setting support orders. Higher household incomes equal higher payments, as children deserve the same standard of living they would have if parents stayed together.

Judges may also assign potential income to underemployed parents based on qualifications and previous jobs. For example, a lawyer working part-time as a server could pay support based on a $150,000 salary rather than $30,000 tips.

Health Care and Child Care Costs

Regular medical expenses and child care costs directly impact children’s well-being. Under Hawaii statute 346-14, the paying parent covers 71% of the child’s reasonable health insurance premiums. Child care costs are often pro-rated based on custody splits and incomes.

For instance, if the father earns 70% of total parental income, he may pay 70% of approved daycare expenses.

Educational Expenses

Extracurricular activities, private school tuition, and other education expenses may lead courts to increase support. These costs ensure children can pursue interests and academic paths improving future opportunities.

Per Hawaii Revised Statutes 580-47, judges can order coverage for appropriate post-secondary education expenses as well. This recognizes rising college costs and encourages parents to contribute within their means.

Extraordinary Expenses

Occasional extra expenses also factor into support responsibilities. Covering 75% to 80% of exceptional costs ensures non-custodial parents uphold their financial duties despite separate homes. These charges may include major medical bills, special needs assistance, automobiles for teenagers, computers, summer camp, braces, counseling services, and damage repairs beyond normal wear and tear.

How to Calculate Hawaii Child Support

Online Calculator

One of the easiest ways to estimate your child support payments in Hawaii is to use the state’s online child support calculator. This nifty tool allows you to plug in details like your income, the number of children, and more to get an estimate of what you may owe or receive.

The calculator is available on the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General’s website and only takes a few minutes to complete. It’s a handy first step before pursuing formal child support arrangements.


In addition to the online calculator, Hawaii provides child support guidelines worksheets that walk you through how support amounts are determined. These worksheets consider details like both parents’ gross incomes, health insurance expenses for the child, and the amount of time each parent spends with their keiki.

Filling out the worksheet gives you a detailed glimpse into the math behind your potential child support order. You can find the guidelines and download the worksheets from the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General’s website.

Getting Help From an Attorney

While online tools can provide estimates, for formal legal advice and representation regarding child support, it’s best to consult with a family law attorney. A lawyer experienced in Hawaii child support cases can help explain state guidelines, file paperwork on your behalf, represent you in court if needed, and more.

They can use details of your unique situation to give you a personalized estimate of potential child support obligations. Attorneys also stay up to date on changes to state laws and policies. Getting professional legal help ensures you pursue child support properly and according to current Hawaii regulations.

Some things an attorney can assist with include:

  • Filing motions related to child support
  • Negotiating child support agreements between parents
  • Modifying existing child support orders
  • Enforcing and collecting overdue child support payments

It’s wise to at least consult with a qualified family law attorney before finalizing any formal child support arrangements. This helps ensure your rights as a parent are protected and that you understand all the child support guidelines and calculations.

Modifying Child Support Orders in Hawaii

Cost of Living Adjustments

In Hawaii, child support orders can be modified every three years to account for cost of living changes. The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) reviews orders using the Consumer Price Index and makes automatic adjustments if the cost of living has increased by at least 10% since the last review or order modification.

This ensures child support keeps pace with inflation so children’s needs are met.

Substantial Change in Circumstances

Outside of the triennial review, parents can request the court to modify a child support order if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” since the last order was established. Common reasons include a 15% or more change in income for either parent, changes in timeshare or custody, or additional children.

The court will review both parents’ financial information and use the Hawaii Child Support Guidelines to recalculate support amounts if deemed appropriate.

Emancipation or Age of Majority

In Hawaii, the age of majority is 18 years old. Unless the child support order specifies otherwise, emancipation at 18 generally terminates the paying parent’s child support obligation. However, if the child is still enrolled in high school, support generally continues until graduation or age 19, whichever occurs first.

For disabled children incapable of self-support, a parent may be required to continue paying support indefinitely if certain conditions are met.

Enforcing and Collecting Hawaii Child Support

Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment is one of the most common methods used to enforce and collect child support in Hawaii. The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) can require an employer to withhold a portion of a non-custodial parent’s wages to pay for child support.

CSEA can garnish up to 50% of disposable earnings if the non-custodial parent is supporting another child, or up to 60% if not. This can be an effective method to get consistent child support payments.

Tax Intercept

Hawaii can also intercept state tax refunds to collect overdue child support, up to the amount owed. When the non-custodial parent is entitled to a tax refund, CSEA will capture that money and put it towards child support debt instead of sending the refund check.

Any remaining refund amount will be sent to the parent. This tax intercept program allows the state to collect past-due support each tax season.

License Suspension

If non-custodial parents fall behind on payments, Hawaii can suspend driver’s licenses, professional/occupational licenses, and recreational licenses. The goal is to give parents additional incentive to pay the child support they owe.

Licenses can be reinstated once individuals start making regular payments again. According to child support advocates, this enforcement method is quite effective in motivating parents.

Contempt of Court

When individuals continually fail to pay child support per a court order, they can face contempt of court charges. The family court judge has discretion to impose fines or even jail time in some cases. The intent is generally to compel compliance rather than strictly punish parents.

According to Hawaii child support lawyers, judges consider whether the nonpayment was willful or resulted from financial hardship before imposing contempt penalties.


We hope this outline gives you a helpful overview of how child support works in Hawaii. Calculating the amount can be complicated, but understanding the basics is key.

Remember – the exact amount of child support depends on the details of each family’s situation. Use Hawaii’s child support guidelines and resources to estimate your potential obligation or entitlement.

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