Going after grandparents for child support could happen under a new proposal before state lawmakers.
HB128 would hold parents of a minor who has a baby financially responsible for their grandchild.
The state’s Child Support Enforcement Agency would be able to seek child support from both sets of grandparents.
Supporters of the bill say 13 other states already have a similar law.
But Rep. Dee Morikawa, D-Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea, chair of the Committee on Human Services, says the bill is unclear.
“The intent is really good,” she said. “The Department of Human Services supports the intent, but there are going to be consequences that need to be talked about further.”
Attorney Gavin Doi specializes in family law. He says the bill is trying to close a loophole to hold parents of minor children who have children responsible for the grandchild’s upbringing.
“For example, say the 17-year-old mother has the baby. The 17-year-old father is responsible for child support in theory, but he goes to high school. He isn’t making any money. In a lot of those cases, the Department of Human Services is going to pick up the tab in terms of food stamps, financial support or other things.”
Supporters of the bill say in addition to holding grandparents “financially responsible,” the proposal could help the parents of the minor hold them accountable for raising the child, and allow them to pass on parenting skills.
Morikawa also wants to make sure the proposal would end up helping, not hurting, families.
HB128 is now in the hands of the judiciary committee.