In Hawaii in the event of a child being born during a marriage, the law “presuppose” that the husband is the biological father of the child. When either of the parents believes the child not to be fathered by the husband, they may proceed with legally establishing or disestablishing paternity prior to the divorce being finalized.
A court order must be obtained to start the process to establish the paternity. The biological father has some rights regarding visitation and custody as well as financial obligations such as child support.
However, if a couple is not married, there is a division between the biological parent and the legal parent.
When an unwed couple has a baby, it is vital that they actively participate in the legal process to ensure the natural father is also legally the father of the child. If the parents don’t establish paternity, they will not have access to the financial & emotional benefits or legal rights. You can view the list of legal services at www.lowenthal-hawaii.com that can be helpful to assist you with family law issues like these.
How Do Unwedded Couples Establish Paternity?
- If the unwed mother has not been divorced or widowed within 300 days before the baby’s birth, a voluntary establishment of paternity form can be signed by the parents in the presence of a hospital caregiver at the hospital. A copy will be sent to the Hawaii Department of health after which the information will be sent to the Child Support Enforcement Agency.
- A Government official (from the CSEA) together with both parents can file a paternity action to the court. In the case of the CSEA being the plaintiff, both the parents will be named as defendants. A judge will then decide whether to issue a court order which determines that the putative father, is, in fact, the biological and legal parent.
- Another option to establish paternity is for the unwed couple to get married soon after the child is born.
Why Is It Essential For Either Parent To Establish Paternity?
- The legal father has access to visitation and custody rights.
- Child support is generally not an issue when the parents are living together, but if they don’t, both parents have monetary commitments to pay towards medical expenses, school fees, child support and maintaining health insurance. They can financially support each other in raising the child.
- By including both parents in a child’s life from a young age can provide the child with a sense of security and belonging.
How Does This Affect The Child?
- When paternity is established, both parents’ information will be displayed on the birth certificate, not just the mother.
- Medical histories from both sides of the family can be obtained without any hassle.
- The child can be eligible through their father for benefits such as state & federal benefits, medical insurance or social security.
- The child will have a better chance at financial security.
The child can form a bond with his biological and legal father from an early age.