Temporary Restraining Orders

TROs in Hawaii

TROs in Hawaii can have serious impact on people's lives

Temporary Restraining Orders - it's important to know the facts


Getting a TRO against someone.  Getting a TRO filed against you.  Both situations are highly stressful.  You'll find information and links on our site that may help you figure out your options. Doi/Luke, Islandlawyers is located in Honolulu, Hawaii, and we have handled countless temporary restraining order cases over the last 20 years.

If you have questions not covered here, see our Legal Information page, or give us a call at (808) 593-2199 and schedule a consult - we'll be happy to speak with you.



Dealing with Temporary Restraining Orders, or TROs in Hawaii can be complicated.  There are different types of temporary restraining orders in Hawaii — for individuals, the primary types are those given at Family Court and those given at District Court. In both types, they are issued to prevent harassment and/or abuse between two or more persons.
FAMILY COURT — these types of restraining orders are issued for parties who are or were connected in one of the following relationship categories:
  • spouses
  • former spouses
  • parents of a child together (but never married to each other)
  • cohabitants (example — boyfriend/girlfriend living together)
  • former cohabitants
  • parents/children
  • siblings
  • present or former “dating relationship”
Persons in these relationships can apply for a restraining order due to physical abuse, emotional abuse, and/or malicious property damage committed against them by the other party. DISTRICT COURT — these types of restraining orders are issued for parties who do not fall into the Family Court relationship categories. A typical example of persons who would come under the District Court restraining orders are neighbors, co-workers, or schoolmates.


Discussed below are the details of FAMILY COURT RESTRAINING ORDERS only.
HOW DO I GET A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER?Getting a temporary restraining order requires a petition to be filed at the Family Court. There is both a State office (Adult Services Branch: 538-5959) as well as a private non-profit office (Ala Kuola: 545-1880) set up to assist individuals in filing a petition for a restraining order.If the facts claimed in a TRO petition convince a judge that protection is needed, a temporary restraining order shall be granted that same day for a brief period (90 days), awaiting a full hearing. Once the temporary order is granted, the opposing party must be served by the police. A hearing is typically set one to two weeks after the initial filing — at that hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to argue why the TRO should or should not be extended for a longer period of time.


If you are served with a restraining order, it is very important that you read it carefully, to make sure that you do not violate the order. The restraining order itself is a civil matter, not a criminal one. However, the violation of a TRO will be a criminal matter, and may result in your arrest, so it should be taken very seriously. Virtually any type of contact with the petitioner (the person who obtained the restraining order against you) will constitute a violation — in person contact, phone calls, texts, e-mails, U.S. Mail, or even having another person contact the petitioner for you. As noted in the section above, you will have an opportunity at a court hearing to tell your side and/or argue your case.


On the day of the Court hearing, there are a number of other restraining order cases, often ten to fifteen, scheduled for the same time as your hearing. This is typical. Unfortunately, this often means that there is little hearing time available for each case, usually no more than twenty to thirty minutes at most. At Family Court, petitioners are seated in a separate area from respondents or defendants (the people who had the TRO filed against them).
During the hearing, both sides are allowed to put on evidence as to why or why not the TRO should be extended. Evidence includes testimony of both sides, as well as of witnesses either side might call. At the close of the hearing, the judge will issue a decision, granting or denying the extension. If the TRO is extended, it becomes an Order for Protection.The Order for Protection may contain a number of modifications and adjustments to allow for practicalities (compared to the initial TRO, which usually has very standard and strict provisions). As an example, an Order for Protection may allow for limited contact via phone or e-mail, or through 3rd party friends/family, to allow the parties to discuss their children’s issues. The Order may also provide for visitation of the children with one of the parties.


Discussed below are the details of DISTRICT COURT RESTRAINING ORDERS only.
HOW DO I GET A DISTRICT COURT RESTRAINING ORDER? Getting a temporary restraining order requires a petition to be filed at the District Court, which has locations in around Oahu, but are all held for hearing at the Honolulu District Court on Alakea Street in downtown Oahu. As mentioned above District Court TROs typically involve neighbors, friends, co-workers, or classmates, but NOT between spouses, family members, or people in “dating” relationships.  As with Family Court TROs, if the initial petition to the Court is granted, the TRO is put in place until a hearing can be held.  Hearings are typically held within two weeks of the initial TRO filing.  At the hearing, the Court can decide whether or not the TRO should be extended, dissolved, or left in place to expire after 90 days.


Parties can appear at the hearings represented or not represented by attorneys. In cases where the person seeking the restraining order is especially fearful of the other person, an attorney can be of great value in putting together a convincing and effective argument for the Court.  Our experienced family attorneys can provide experienced and determined representation for you in your TRO matter, both for petitioners and for defendants. Gavin previously worked with the AmeriCorps Domestic Violence program, and has argued many hundreds of restraining orders.

If you would like to talk to an experienced Hawaii divorce lawyer about your questions, or wish to set up a consult, please e-mail or call us at 593-2199.  We'll be happy to discuss your issues.


Hawaii Family Law Definitions, A to Z Maui Domestic Violence Victim Had TRO Against Abuser Congress Passes Expanded Violence Against Women Act Honolulu Courthouse Information