FAMILY COURTS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII
The Unified Family Court
The Family Courts in Hawaii are unified family courts, meaning that they handle a broad range of cases that relate to families, dealing with divorce, paternity, child support (in divorce and paternity cases), child custody and visitation (in divorce and paternity cases), temporary restraining orders (TRO), juvenile criminal cases, family criminal matters (violations of restraining orders and family abuse), Child Welfare Services (formerly Child Protective Services), adoption, guardianship, and other similar matters. The goal in having a unified family court is to handle family issues in a comprehensive manner. Hawaii’s Family Court was one of the earliest unified systems.
Family Courts in the State of Hawaii, like the District and Circuit Courts are broken up into four circuits, roughly corresponding to the major islands:
- First Circuit: covers the City and County of Honolulu, including all of Oahu;
- Second Circuit: covers the County of Maui, which includes Maui, Molokai, and Lanai;
- Third Circuit: covers the County of Hawaii, encompassing the Big Island; and
- Fifth Circuit: covers the County of Kauai, which is the island of Kauai.
The Fourth Circuit, which comprised part of the Big Island, was merged with the Third Circuit in 1943 and thus no longer exists.
First Circuit Court: the primary location of the Family Court on Oahu is in Kapolei, located at 4675 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei, Hawaii 96707 (map). This facility, the Ronald T.Y. Moon Judiciary Complex (named after a former Supreme Court Chief Justice) houses the Family Court courtrooms, the filing clerks, records room, judges’ chambers, juvenile probation officers, and the Juvenile Detention Facility. The Waianae District Court is also housed in the Kapolei Complex. Parking is metered, and only takes quarters.
A few of the Family Court courtrooms are located in the Honolulu District Court at 1111 Alakea Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 (map). These courtrooms primarily hear Family Court criminal proceedings (charges for violations of TROs, abuse of a household member, or harassment of a household member) as well as a small number of guardianship and TRO hearings (the nearest municipal parking lot is Ali’i Place, across the street, entrance on Alakea Street). Kaahumanu Hale, the Circuit Court building at 777 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 (map) in downtown Honolulu, housed the Family Court until 2010 when it was moved to Kapolei. Kaahumanu Hale however, does retain two filing clerk windows for Family Court, so that Family Court documents may be filed there or in Kapolei (Kaahumanu Hale has a large parking structure, with a parking attendant). Additionally, most of the Family Court’s forms are available at both Kaahumanu Hale and Kapolei. For more information on Honolulu resources, see our Honolulu Courthouse Information page.
Note: for all the smaller, rural courts, please check before going there to file documents. Many of these small locations only house the courtrooms, while the filing clerks are often located at the primary courthouse for the Circuit.
Second Circuit Court: as the Circuit covers three islands, there are courthouses or facilities on each island. The largest location is on Maui at 2145 Main Street, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793 (map – although I think that the Google pointer points to the wrong location across the street). This building, Hoapili Hale, houses courtrooms, the filing clerks, and the records room. Parking is metered, so bring change. Family Court cases are also heard on Molokai at 55 Makaena Place in Kaunakakai (map) (Molokai’s County building) and on Lanai at 730 Lanai Avenue in Lanai City (map).
Third Circuit: the Big Island hears Family Court cases in three locations, in Hilo at the new facility built on the old Kaiko’o Mall at 777 Kilauea Avenue, Hilo, Hawaii 96720 (map), in Kona housed in the Lenders Document Building (map) (parking is free, but limited), and in Waimea at the Waimea Civic Center at Kamuela (map).
Fifth Circuit: all Kauai Family Court cases are heard at the new court facility, Pu’uhonua Hale at 3970 Kaana Street, Lihue, Hawaii 96766 (map). Family Court courtrooms, filing clerks, and records room are all located on the first floor of the facility. Parking is free.
The Family Court’s website is located on the State Judiciary site: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/courts/family/family_courts.html. Although the site doesn’t have much in-depth information, it does have links to some of the Family Court’s forms, contact information, fees, and programs.