Report Title:

Paternity; Child Support Orders; Unwed Fathers; Genetic Testing

Description:

Requires unwed fathers to submit to genetic testing prior to issuance of a child support order. Provides for married fathers to sign a genetic testing waiver and an acknowledgment of paternity form in lieu of genetic testing.

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

2659

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2004

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to genetic paternity testing.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that a unique dilemma exists when a presumed father learns that he is not the biological father of a child, and therefore pursues the cessation of child support. While the father may have a valid complaint that a paternity judgment should be vacated when genetic testing has shown that a child is not his, the State has a responsibility to protect the best interests of the child, including the child's financial and emotional welfare.

The legislature further finds that the best way to address this complex problem is to take a preventative approach by conclusively establishing paternity immediately after a child is born. If an incorrectly named father is dismissed early in a child support proceeding, the mother will likely be in a better position to correctly identify the true biological father.

The legislature further finds that many men, including married men, are incorrectly identified as biological fathers. At the same time, establishing genetic paternity testing for every named father would not be an efficient use of the State's limited resources. Instead, the legislature finds that a significant portion of this problem could be addressed by focusing on those families in which the presumed parents are not married, as paternity is most frequently questioned in those cases.

The purpose of this Act is to prevent the misidentification of men as biological fathers in cases where a child is born out-of-wedlock.

SECTION 2. Chapter 584, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"584-   Fathers of children born out-of-wedlock; mandatory genetic testing. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a father of a child born out-of-wedlock, who has not signed an acknowledgment of paternity form, shall provide to the department of human services a genetic sample to determine paternity prior to issuance of a child support order. If genetic testing establishes that the man is not the biological father, no child support order shall be issued against that man.

(b) Subject to section 576D-4 and Act     , Session Laws of Hawaii 2004, any child support order entered against a presumed father of a child born in wedlock shall provide the man with the right to undertake a genetic test. The court shall clearly explain the right to undertake a genetic test.

(c) Every named father of a child born out-of-wedlock shall provide to the department of human services a genetic sample prior to signing an acknowledgment of paternity form. The department shall compare the named father's genetic sample to the child's to confirm paternity. The acknowledgment of paternity shall have no legal effect if genetic testing results prove that the named father is not the biological father.

(d) An acknowledgment of paternity form shall contain a separate genetic testing waiver attachment that shall be presented to all presumed fathers of children born in wedlock. The genetic testing waiver attachment shall clearly state that the presumed father of a child born in wedlock may have genetic testing completed by the department of human services to establish paternity. The genetic testing waiver attachment shall clearly explain that a presumed father who signs both the waiver and an acknowledgment of paternity form shall forfeit his right to challenge paternity after two years following the date of signing the last of the forms. If a presumed father does not sign the genetic testing waiver, he may submit a genetic testing sample to the department of human services to be processed and compared to the genetic sample of the child. Expenses for such testing and comparison shall be paid by the presumed father of a child born in wedlock.

(e) An acknowledgment of paternity form shall have no legal effect for a presumed father of a child born in wedlock unless the presumed father has also signed a genetic testing waiver, unless genetic testing has proven that the presumed father is the child's biological father.

(f) If a presumed father of a child born in wedlock is presented with an acknowledgment of paternity form and a genetic testing waiver while at the hospital following the child's birth, the person presenting the forms shall explain the forms to the presumed father privately."

SECTION 3. The amendments in this Act to chapter 584, Hawaii Revised Statutes, which require a child support order entered against a presumed father of a child born in wedlock to provide the man with the right to have genetic testing completed, shall not apply when:

(1) The presumed father's child was born prior to the effective date of this Act and the presumed father has signed within two years prior to the effective date of this Act, an acknowledgment of paternity form; or

(2) The presumed father's child was born after the effective date of this Act and the presumed father has signed both an acknowledgment of paternity form and a genetic testing waiver, and two years has elapsed since the date on which the father signed the last of the two forms.

SECTION 4. The department of human services shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes, as necessary to implement this Act.

SECTION 5. The department of human services shall work with the federal government to determine the amount of genetic testing required by this Act that can be funded under existing federal government genetic testing reimbursement laws. The department of human services shall also provide the department of the attorney with all information, including results of genetic testing, as necessary for the implementation of this Act.

SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed

and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

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