April 2022 – Updated COVID-19 Procedures at Family Court


April 30, 2022

Many people are asking about how Family Court hearings are being handled as the State and counties lessen COVID-19 restrictions.  On March 21, 2022, the Chief Justice of the Hawai’i Supreme Court, Mark Recktenwald issued a statewide Order Regarding Judiciary Operations.  The Order rescinded much of the State’s COVID-19 restrictions for the courthouses, effective March 28, 2022.  In conjunction with this, the head judges from each of the Circuits (Oahu, Maui, Hawai’i Island, and Kauai) issued orders along those lines, with specific rule changes for their Circuit.  As such, the current requirements for the Family Court of the First Circuit (Oahu) are:

  • only persons with official court business shall be permitted to enter the First Circuit Judiciary facilities in which Family Court proceedings or operations take place;
  • attorneys and parties may not enter the courthouse until fifteen (15) minutes prior to the scheduled time of their hearing;
  • witnesses must wait outside the courthouse until it is their time to testify; and
  • hearings are being conducted in-person unless the Court approves a request by an individual to appear by video/phone.

First Circuit Chief Judge R. Mark Browning’s 3/21/22 Family Court Operation Order #1 Regarding Operations in the Family Court of the First Circuit is linked hereAdditionally, in the First Circuit (Oahu), the following rules apply:

  • face masks remain mandatory in the Family Court facilities;
  • social distancing is required in the Family Court facilities;
  • no person shall enter Judiciary facilities if they: (1) have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous five (5) days; (2) have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or other symptoms of respiratory illness or of COVID-19 as set forth by the CDC; (3) have been exposed to COVID-19 within the past ten (10) days and are not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations; or (4) are subject to an isolation or quarantine request or order by any public health official or licensed medical physician

General Order #1 Regarding All Trial Courts of the First Circuit of the State of Hawai’i, which contains the above provisions is linked here.

As noted above, the lead judges for each Circuit have issued their own orders, below:

(for those curious about the lack of a Fourth Circuit, it was part of the Big Island/Hawai’i Island, but was merged with the Third Circuit in 1943)  The Hawai’i Judiciary’s general information page on COVID-19 is located here.  If uncertain about your proceedings in light of changing COVID-19 rules and guidelines, contact the Judiciary or your attorney.

Those looking for general information on the Family Courts in Honolulu, including directions and parking should see our section on Honolulu Courthouse Information.

About Gavin K. Doi

Gavin, a founding partner of Doi/Luke, was born and reared in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, graduating from McKinley High School, and receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in Denver, Colorado. Previously, Gavin worked with the Child Support Enforcement Agency and the AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Clinic. An advocate of pro bono legal work, Gavin volunteers time with Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and the Hawai’i State Bar Association. In 2013, Gavin co-authored the book Child Custody Litigation and Settlements (Aspatore Books/Thomson West), penning the section "Working with Your Client Towards a Successful Child Custody Case." Gavin is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association and the HSBA Family Law Section, and was presented with the 2002 Justice Award by the Hawaii State Bar Association, which honors one lawyer annually for their outstanding contribution to the ideals of justice. The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission honored Gavin in 2012 for his pro bono service to the community. Gavin has extensive experience in divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, restraining orders, and other family law matters, and has a Distinguished rating with Martindale-Hubble®/Lawyers.com, and an Avvo rating of 10 out of 10. He can be e-mailed at: gkdoi@islandlawyers.com .

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