When determining the child's custodian, the court distinguishes legal and physical custody. Legal custody gives the parents the right to make crucial decisions regarding raising the child. Physical custody determines the place of residence for the child and the visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. In the state of Hawaii, the court makes all decisions regarding child custody based on the best interests of the child. The court carefully considers the following factors before making a decision:
- the relationships between the child and each parent;
- emotional connections between a child and parents;
- the needs of the child in education, medicine, and safety;
- the relationship of the child with other family members;
- the wishes of the child regarding the guardian provided that the child reaches a sufficient age to reason sensibly;
- the willingness of parents to cooperate in the process of raising a child;
- any history of sexual or physical abuse in the family.