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Know the Laws: Hawaii

UPDATED October 5, 2016

Orders for Protection due to Domestic Abuse (Family Court)

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An order for protection is a civil order that is issued to stop abuse by a family or household member.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Hawaii?

This section defines domestic abuse for the purposes of getting an order for protection from family court.

Hawaii law defines "domestic abuse" as the occurrence of one or more of the following things between family or household members:

  • physical harm/ bodily injury/ assault;
  • the threat of imminent physical harm/ bodily injury/ assault;
  • extreme psychological abuse (ongoing behavior/actions towards you that seriously disturbs or continually bothers you and has no purpose, causing you extreme emotional distress);
  • malicious property damage (purposely causing damage to your property to try and cause you emotional distress); and/or
  • sexual offenses committed by an adult against a child which include:

Note: Please click on the links to read the definition of each crime.

* HRS § 586-1

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back to topWhat types of orders for protection are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders for protection that can be issued by the family court in cases of domestic abuse.

Temporary restraining orders (TRO).  A temporary restraining order can be granted at the time you apply for your order for protection without prior notice to the abuser and without him/her being present in court.*  It is valid for up to 180 days or until an order for protection becomes effective, whichever happens first.  Generally, a hearing on the TRO will take place within 15 days.  At the hearing, the abuser can try to “show cause” (prove) why the TRO should be discontinued.**  For information on the protections you can get in a TRO, see How can an order for protection help me? 

Note: Although Hawaii does not have an emergency order that can be filed when courts are closed, the law does empower the police to issue a similar "order."  A police officer who is investigating an allegation of abuse of a family/household member can order the abuser to leave the home for a "period of separation."  During this time, it is illegal for the abuser to initiate any contact with you, either by telephone or in person. The "period of separation" lasts until 6:00 p.m. on the second business day following the day the order was issued (the day the order is issued is not counted when calculating the two business days).***  For more information, you can read the whole law on our Statutes page here.

Final order for protection.  At the hearing that takes place approximately 15 days after getting your TRO, the judge can give you an order for protection for a longer amount of time if the judge believes that:

  • the abuser did not “show cause” (prove) why the order should be discontinued; and
  • the order for protection is necessary to prevent domestic abuse from happening or from re-occurring.**** 

You can be granted whatever protections were included in your TRO and others if the judge believes they are necessary.*** See How can an order for protection help me? for more information on the protections you can get in an order for protection.

If your situation does not fit the requirements for a family court order, you may request an injunction against harassment from the district court.  For more information, please see our Injunctions Against Harassment (District Court) page.

* HRS § 586-4(a)
** HRS § 586-5(a),(b)
*** HRS § 709-906(4)(b)
**** HRS § 586-5.5(a)


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back to topWhere can I file for an order for protection?

You can file for an order for protection in any family court in the circuit where you live.*  Go to our HI Courthouse Locations page for addresses and phone numbers of the courthouses.  If you want help, you may want to contact an attorney.  Please see our HI Finding a Lawyer page for more information.

* HRS § 586-2

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