Hawaii Family Law on Domestic Violence

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Hawaii's domestic violence law makes it a crime to abuse a family or household member. Specifically, Hawaii revised statutes section 709-906 makes it illegal to abuse a family or household member, or refuse to comply with the lawful order of a police officer who reasonably believes that there was physical abuse or harm inflicted by an offender against a family or household member.

It is important to remember that domestic violence can only be committed by the victim's household or family member. In Hawaii, a "household or family member" relationship can only exist between:

  • Spouses (or reciprocal beneficiaries)
  • Former spouses (or reciprocal beneficiaries)
  • People in a dating relationship
  • People who have a child in common
  • Parents
  • Children
  • People related by consanguinity, or
  • People who reside together (or who formerly resided together)

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders During Divorce

When either member of a married couple files for an annulment, divorce, or separation in Hawaii the court will issue a restraining order if there are reasonable grounds to believe one of the spouses may physically abuse, threaten, or harass the other spouse. The restraining order may require either or both parties to leave the martial residence for a specified amount of time, and may restrain one spouse from contacting, threatening, or physically abusing the other spouse (or the couple's children).

A knowing or intentional violation of a restraining order is a misdemeanor offense. The offender will be ordered to undergo a domestic violence intervention program in addition to either of the following punishments:

  • For a first offense: Imprisonment for 48 hours in jail, and a fine of at least $150 and not more than $500.
  • For a second or subsequent offense: Imprisonment for 30 days in jail, and a fine of at least $250 and not more than $1,000.

For additional information see Hawaii Revised Statute section 580-10.

Child Custody and Domestic Violence

Family courts in Hawaii issue child custody awards based on the best interest of the child. However, if a child is in immediate danger of serious physical harm while a child custody determination is being made, the court will issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child. The chart below provides a brief overview of this process.

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statute section 583A-311: Warrant to Take Physical Custody of the Child

What's the Process?

After filing a petition seeking enforcement of a child custody determination, the petitioner can file an application for the issuance of a warrant to take physical custody of the child if the child is imminently likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from the state of Hawaii.

If the court, after listening to testimony from the petition or other witness, finds that the child is imminently likely to suffer physical harm or be removed from the state, then the court may issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child.

What's Included in the Warrant?

A warrant to take physical custody of a child must:
  • Recite the facts on which the court's decision is based
  • Direct law enforcement officers to take physical custody of the child immediately, and
  • Provide for the placement of the child

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Hawaii's family law on domestic violence contact a local family law lawyer or criminal defense attorney.

If you've been the victim of domestic violence there is help available for you. During an emergency dial 911 and when you're safe contact the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.