THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
relating to the family court.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that delays experienced by parents and children while awaiting the disposition of appeals from family court decisions could arguably violate the due process clauses of both the state and federal constitutions. Such delays conflict with the mission of the family court, which, as stated on the family court's website, is "to provide a fair, speedy, economical, and accessible forum for the resolution of matters involving families and children."
The legislature further finds that in recent years, some parents and children have had to wait up to eight years for their cases to be resolved. For example, the delays between the filing of the family court order and the decision by the supreme court have lasted as long as:
(1) Seven years and eight months in Cox v. Cox, 138 Hawaii 476 (2016);
(2) Four years and eleven months in Brutsch v. Brutsch, 139 Hawaii 373 (2017); and
(3) Two years and six months in Tumaneng v. Tumaneng, 138 Hawaii 468,(2016).
Delays can result in unacceptable incongruities if the matter to be decided becomes moot while the appeal is pending, such as when a child reaches the age of majority before the final child custody order makes its way through the appeals process.
Therefore, the purpose of this Act is to expedite the process for appealing family court orders by making the orders appealable directly to the supreme court instead of to the intermediate court of appeals.
SECTION 2. Section 571-54, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
Appeal. (a) An interested party, aggrieved by any order or
decree of the court, may appeal to the [
intermediate appellate] supreme
court for review of questions of law and fact upon the same terms and
conditions as in other cases in the circuit court, and review shall be governed
by chapter 602, except as hereinafter provided.
Where the decree or order affects the custody of a child or minor, the
appeal shall be heard at the earliest practicable time. In cases under section 571-11, the record on
appeal shall be given a fictitious title, to safeguard against publication of
the names of the children or minors involved.
The stay of enforcement of an order or
decree, or the pendency of an appeal, shall not suspend the order or decree of
the court regarding a child or minor, or discharge the child or minor from the
custody of the court or of the person, institution, or agency to whose care the
child or minor has been committed, unless otherwise ordered by the family court
or by the [
appellate] supreme court after an appeal is
taken. Pending final disposition of the
case, the family court or the [ appellate] supreme court, after
the appeal is taken, may make such order for temporary custody as is
appropriate in the circumstances. If the
[ appellate] supreme court does not dismiss the proceedings and
discharge the child or minor, it shall affirm or modify the order of the family
court and remand the child or minor to the jurisdiction of the court for
disposition not inconsistent with the appellate court's finding on the appeal.
(c) An order or decree entered in a proceeding based upon section 571-11(1), (2), or (6) shall be subject to appeal only as follows:
twenty days from the date of the entry of any such order or decree, any party
directly affected thereby may file a motion for a reconsideration of the facts
involved. The motion and any supporting
affidavit shall set forth the grounds on which a reconsideration is requested
and shall be sworn to by the movant or the movant's representative. The judge shall hold a hearing on the motion,
affording to all parties concerned the full right of representation by counsel
and presentation of relevant evidence.
The findings of the judge upon the hearing of the motion and the judge's
determination and disposition of the case thereafter, and any decision, judgment,
order, or decree affecting the child and entered as a result of the hearing on
the motion, shall be set forth in writing and signed by the judge. Any party aggrieved by [
any such] the
findings, judgment, order, or decree shall have the right to appeal therefrom
to the [ intermediate appellate] supreme court, upon the same
terms and conditions as in other cases in the circuit court, and review shall
be governed by chapter 602; provided that no [ such] motion for
reconsideration shall operate as a stay of [ any such] the
findings, judgment, order, or decree unless the judge of the family court so
orders; and provided further that no informality or technical irregularity in
the proceedings prior to the hearing on the motion for reconsideration shall
constitute grounds for the reversal of [ any such] the findings,
judgment, order, or decree by the [ appellate] supreme court."
SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.
SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Family Court; Supreme Court
Makes decisions of the family court appealable to the supreme court instead of the intermediate court of appeals.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.