Guam Supreme Court Grants Writ, Finds Superior Court Lacked Jurisdiction Over David Banes in Divorce Case

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Guam – The Supreme Court of  Guam has issued an opinion in Banes v. Banes finding that the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over David Banes in his divorce case and agreeing to issue the “writ of prohibition” he sought.

 

The case revolves around whether the Guam Superior Court had jurisdiction over David in his divorce from Oxana Banes.

According to a release from the Guam Judiciary the couple met in the CNMI, and after some years, and the negotiation of a prenuptial agreement, they married.

READ the Supreme Court Decision HERE

A year after marriage David sought a divorce and Oxana moved to Guam where David bought a condominium for her. Oxana filed for divorce in Guam, David filed for divorce in the CNMI and asked the Guam Superior Court to dismiss the divorce action claiming that the Superior Court lacked personal jurisdiction over him.  David’s motion to dismiss was denied, and David then filed a writ of prohibition in the Supreme Court of Guam.

In an opinion authored by Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido the court concluded that the trial court must have personal jurisdiction before setting aside a Prenuptial Agreement, ordering spousal support, and dividing marital property.

READ the release from the Guam Judiciary below:

Supreme Court Opinion Issued: WRP12-002 Banes v. Banes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 7, 2012 – The Supreme Court of Guam issued an opinion in the case of Banes v. Superior Court, 2012 Guam 11. In 1999, Petitioner David G. Banes (“David”) met Respondent Oxana G. Banes (“Oxana”) in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“CNMI”). Years later, the couple negotiated a Prenuptial Agreement and married. A year after the marriage, David told Oxana that he wanted a divorce. Oxana moved to Guam, and to accommodate her living situation, in August 2008, David purchased a condominium in Tamuning. Oxana later filed for divorce in the Superior Court of Guam. David moved to dismiss the Guam divorce action claiming that the Superior Court lacked personal jurisdiction over him. David also filed for divorce in the CNMI. David’s motion to dismiss was denied, and David then filed a writ of prohibition in the Supreme Court of Guam.

In an opinion authored by Chief Justice F. Philip Carbullido, and joined by Associate Justice Robert J. Torres and Associate Justice Katherine A. Maraman, the Supreme Court granted the writ and held that the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over David. The court concluded that the trial court must have personal jurisdiction before setting aside a Prenuptial Agreement, ordering spousal support, and dividing marital property. Additionally, the court found that David’s purchase of the single Guam condominium unit did not constitute an activity or contact that is continuous and systematic enough to establish general jurisdiction over him.

Specifically, the court held that David’s Guam condominium purchase did not establish that he personally availed himself of the laws and protection of the Guam forum, and there was no showing of any causal relationship between the underlying divorce claim and David’s forum-related contact of the Guam condominium purchase — that is, Oxana’s divorce claim did not arise out of David’s purchase of the Guam condominium. Accordingly, the writ of prohibition was issued ordering the Superior Court not to proceed further with the case because it lacked personal jurisdiction over David.