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Addressing Paternity Issues


An astounding 40 percent of all U.S. births in 2016 were to unmarried women. At that point, this was the highest number ever. And that percentage has been climbing rapidly higher ever since. (In Hawaii, about 41 percent of all children are born out of wedlock and 51 percent of mothers under 30 are unmarried.) In fact, there has been a significant increase in the rate at which children are being born to unwed parents even while birth rates overall are declining. Issues relating to custody and child support for these kids are processed through the Family Court system on its rapidly expanding paternity calendar.

Are you my daddy? Gone are the days when a guy can simply go out, father a child out of wedlock and then disappear. Any unwed mother who applies for welfare will be compelled to name the alleged natural father as a prerequisite to getting welfare payments. If she’s not sure who the father is, then she will be expected to make her best educated guess (perhaps even naming several potential candidates).

Claiming responsibility for children. If necessary, the city or state attorney will summon each possible father for genetic DNA tests that can establish who the true father is with virtual certainty. Next, an order will be filed to have the proven father pay child support. Conversely, once he has been legally established to be the natural father, this new father can demand to have visitation rights with his child or even seek primary custody.

In this context, it is noteworthy that more fathers aren’t waiting to be dragged into Court. Instead, far more fathers are now pro-actively seeking custody and/or visitation of their offspring regardless of whether or not they had ever married their mothers.

Game-changing realities. Birth control, female equality and the fact that motherhood outside of marriage is no longer stigmatized are often cited as the sorts of modern social factors that are largely responsible for the jump in out-of-wedlock pregnancies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all pregnancies in America are unwanted or mistimed.

The statistics. Here is how the percentages of births outside of marriage currently line up in the United States: Whites = 29 percent, blacks = 72 percent, Hispanics = 53 percent and all other ethnic groups = 41 percent. And here, for comparison, are some international nonmarital paternity rates: Japan = 2.1 percent, Greece = 5 percent, Italy = 20.7 percent and Sweden = 54.7 percent.

The attorneys at Coates Frey Tanimoto & Gibson are here to help you navigate the legal issues related to paternity in Hawaii. Contact us at 808-524-4854 or complete our simple contact form to schedule a complimentary initial consultation today.