WHAT'S THE LAW?
Try to find birth dad before adoption
My stepson is 17 years old. I have known him for almost 13 years now. He has been using my wife's maiden name, and I want to adopt him and change his name to mine. How would I go about this? Also, is it too late for my wife to seek some kind of child support for my stepson? You see, his biological father was not there when he was born. My wife does not have any information about where he is; the only thing my wife knows is his name -- no Social Security number or whatever. He was in the military and was transferred somewhere else. What can she do about this?
Answer: From Ray Gurczynski, Legal Aid attorney: Through an adoption your stepson's name can be changed. The adoption would terminate the parental rights of the biological father, including child support obligations. Hawaii laws require that your stepson's biological father be notified of the pending adoption. If his whereabouts are unknown, you (or your attorney) must make reasonable efforts to locate him. Your efforts must show that you used due diligence in your search, such as using the Internet, mail, contacting former employers, friends, family, directory assistance, last known address, etc. If you follow the family court procedures, the adoption could be granted without the biological father's consent to your adoption.
Q: I would like to become the guardian of my grandchild, but I am on a fixed income and I am worried about the financial burden on me now that I am retired. Are there any financial benefits that I can apply for if I choose to proceed with a guardianship?
A: According to Daniel Pollard, Legal Aid attorney: Yes. If the guardian and the minor child are blood related, the guardian may apply for non-needy caretaker benefits with the Department of Human Services. If approved, the guardian will receive monthly financial assistance for caring for the minor. The legal parents will be held financially responsible through the Child Support Enforcement Agency for any non-needy care benefits paid out by the Department of Human Services.
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.