What's the law?
Hawaii has no common-law marriage
I have a question about common law: Do we have such a law in Hawaii?
I would like to know because my boyfriend of more than nine years was recently diagnosed with cancer of the colon, liver and lungs. I know it's level 4. He hasn't been able to talk to me much about it; it has been really hard for him. I love him dearly but dare not ask any of these questions of him. I know that now is not the time. Thank you so much for any information.
Answer: From Leslie Hubert, Legal Aid paralegal: I assume you mean common-law marriage. Common-law marriage is when a couple has not gone through a ceremonial marriage and the license process, but is defined when they live together for a significant period of time, hold themselves out to be a married couple to the community, refer to each other as husband and wife, file joint tax returns and intend to be married. The same legal issues relate as if they were married, including a divorce, should they decide to dissolve their relationship. While there are 16 states that recognize common-law marriage, Hawaii is NOT one of them. Your boyfriend might want to consider a will, advanced health care directive (formerly called living will) and/or a durable power of attorney. Check Legal Aid's Web site for more information: www.legalaidhawaii.org.
Q: I am considering becoming the guardian of my younger sister because our father is currently deployed in the military. Our mother is deceased. I only want to be able to enroll her in school, take her to the doctor and sign her permission slips while our dad is away. Will a guardianship mean that he is no longer my sister's father?
A: From Sheri Rand, Legal Aid's adoptions and guardianship manager: No. The child's legal parent(s) retain their parental rights to the child. The guardian becomes the minor child's legal caretaker and is given the authority to care for and make decisions for the child. The child's parents still have legal responsibilities to the child, including financial support, but do not make any legal decisions for the child.
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.