HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO CHILD CUSTODY.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the family court may appoint a child custody evaluator from a list of qualified individuals to investigate a child custody dispute. State law currently prefers that licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, and social workers serve as evaluators, but authorizes individuals with qualifying education and training in child custody evaluations to serve as evaluators when psychologists, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, or social workers are not available. The law also authorizes other individuals, known as fact-finding investigators, to serve as child custody evaluators by stipulation of the parties and approval by the court. These evaluators are most often attorneys who practice family law. The legislature also finds that child custody evaluators typically provide written reports to the court, and sometimes testify at hearings or at trial.
The legislature believes that professionals who work before the family court and who have an impact on the safety and well‑being of children and families need to understand the dynamics of domestic violence. When child custody evaluators do not have in-depth training and education on domestic violence, their recommendations to the courts on custody matters may be unduly affected and may not serve the best interests of children. The legislature recognizes that domestic violence is often not identified at the outset of a custody case and is often not the reason for an evaluation. Accordingly, knowledge about domestic violence issues, including lethality, subtlety, and prevalence of domestic violence, is essential for child custody evaluators.
The purpose of this Act is to require certain individuals who wish to act as child custody evaluators to complete a training course on domestic violence issues every three years.
SECTION 2. Section 571-46.4, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
§571-46.4[ ]] Child custody evaluators; qualification;
registry; complaints. (a)
[ A] Subject to subsection (c), a person may be appointed
as a child custody evaluator for purposes of section 571-46 if the person is
actively licensed as a:
under chapter 453 and is a board certified psychiatrist or has completed a
residency in psychiatry;
under chapter 465;
and family therapist under chapter 451J; or
social worker under section 467E-7(3).
A person may be appointed as a child custody evaluator in the absence of
a license under subsection (a) if:
individual has obtained education and training that meet nationally recognized
competencies and standards of practice in child custody evaluation; provided
that there are no child custody evaluators enumerated under subsection (a) who
are willing and available, within a reasonable period of time, to perform child
custody evaluations; or
parties stipulate to a person who does not qualify as a child custody evaluator
under subsection (a) and the court approves, subject to subsection (c),
that person as a fact-finding investigator to the court.
After , a person
described in subsection (a) or paragraph (b)(2) who wishes to act or continue
acting as a child custody evaluator pursuant to this section shall complete a
training course on domestic violence issues every three years. The training course shall be approved by the
family court, and shall include a minimum of three hours of training. The family court shall publish a list of
approved training courses on the judiciary's website.
(c)] (d) The judiciary shall maintain on its website a
publicly accessible registry of child custody evaluators who are qualified
pursuant to this section. Professionals
who are willing and available to perform child custody evaluations shall be
responsible for providing the judiciary with relevant information, including
contact information, evidence of qualifications, and fees.
(d)] (e) The judiciary shall establish a referral
process to allow parties to file a complaint with the judiciary regarding a
court-appointed child custody evaluator.
Upon notification by a party of the party's intent to file a complaint
against a child custody evaluator appointed under subsection (a), the judiciary
may refer the complainant to the appropriate licensing authority. The judiciary shall submit to the legislature
an annual report regarding the number of complaints against court-appointed
child custody evaluators that are processed through the referral process.
(e)] (f) A complaint against a court-appointed child
custody evaluator not qualified under subsection (a) may be resolved through
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.
Judiciary; Family Court; Child Custody; Evaluation; Fact-Finding
Requires certain individuals attempting to serve as child custody evaluators to complete a training course on domestic violence issues every 3 years. Requires the Family Court to approve training courses and publish approved courses on the Judiciary website.
The summary description
of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is
not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.