Petition for Paternity in Hawaii

In Doe v. Doe, 99 Hawai'i 1, 52 P.3d 255 (2002), the child's mother filed a petition for paternity against the alleged father. The Hawai'i Supreme Court decided that the doctrine of issue preclusion barred the child's mother from bringing the paternity action because the divorce decree between the mother and her former husband had declared that the child was the son of the mother and her former husband, and the issue of paternity was essential to the portion of the final judgment of divorce that ordered the former husband to make support payments and provided for custody and visitation. The opinion of a majority of the court states, in relevant part, as follows: Issue preclusion, or collateral estoppel, bars relitigation of an issue where: (1) the issue decided in the prior adjudication is identical to the one presented in the action in question; (2) there is a final judgment on the merits; (3) the issue decided in the prior adjudication was essential to the final judgment; (4) the party against whom issue preclusion is asserted was a party or in privity with a party to the prior adjudication. Issue preclusion can be raised defensively by one who was not a party in the prior adjudication.