Legal Aid is, as you have seen, over-stretched with too few attorneys to serve too many poor people. It is no wonder that you have not been accepted by them, as they simply cannot handle the number of very deserving people that need their help.
You might keep calling all of the local family law
attorneys, as someone might be willing to take your case on payments.
Otherwise, you are in a position where you will need to represent yourself, pro se
(meaning without an attorney). To do that, you would first head to your court clerk's office and pick up any pre-printed forms that they have available on a complaint for child custody. If they do not have any pre-printed forms, you will have to either buy forms online, or find some free and modify them (with a caption at the top for the court you would be filing the claim). I am able to find free forms of this type for other jurisdictions, but not Hawaii. Clearly, if you used forms from another jurisdiction, they are not going to fit your situation, and you would have to modify them. If the form, for example, cited a statute, you don't want to cite a statute from out of state, and so you would need to delete that citation. If you did this, you are going to have to do some legal drafting, and you will certainly feel that you are in over your head. But with any luck you might find a judge who would cut you a little slack - that is absolutely not guaranteed, however.
I believe you are on the island of Hawaii. Hawaii does not have their family law forms online and available for download. That does not mean that they do not have them available from the court, and you should contact the court first. If there are no forms available, you may try downloading the family law forms from one of the other islands and modifying the forms to fit (you will name YOUR court in Hawaii rather than the court on another island, for example).http://www.courts.state.hi.us/page_server/SelfHelp/Forms/Oahu/9F9AA9CB61348F6EEA9B02AF7.html
There are forms available for the DC bar (District of Columbia), which, of course, is NOT the prefered set of forms to use. But if you take the time to learn and understand them, and if you appropriately modify the form as I noted above, you could, possibly, make it work for your situation in Hawaii. If you are not looking for a divorce, but only a custody order, this is one of the few sites I have found with a petition for custody only available for free download:http://www.dcbar.org/for_the_public/legal_information/family/family_court_forms/index.cfm
Whereever you obtain the form, you will need to fill it out. And, you will need to file it with the court, paying any filing fee. Also get any forms for service of process, as you will have to have your ex served with legal papers. You will need to set a court date, and as part of the service of process, include a summons with the court date, time, and place included, so your ex knows where she needs to be.
If you are going to attempt this yourself, you would do well to either attend one of the seminars on Hawaii divorce law
or view it online. It is supposed to be a good over-view of the law for the pro se litigant. It covers matters such as child custody as well as other divorce related topics.http://www.courts.state.hi.us/page_server/SelfHelp/Divorce/41940DCB6DC865D7ED2C264E37.html
Good luck to you!
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