Guam is an American hub on the edge of Asia and the home of several major military installations. The people of Guam and their elected leaders have always been supporters of the armed forces and of Americans living in the far east. Guam is also a vacation haven for people living in Asia.
Perhaps for these reasons, the legislature of Guam passed laws creating favorable residency requirements for Military and overseas Americans seeking divorce in the Guam Courts. These laws are equally applicable to Americans in the mainland.
Recent changes to Guam law allow an uncontested divorce where one of the parties "resides" in Guam for seven days before the filing of the divorce complaint. The legislative history, including the floor debate on this provision, make it clear, that the residency requirement can be met by a seven day stay in Guam. The purpose of this requirement was to promote tourism by requiring at least one party to an uncontested divorce to come to Guam.
The two most important statutes state:
19 GCA §8318. Residence of Parties.
(a) A divorce or dissolution of marriage may be granted if one (1) of the parties has been a resident of Guam for at least ninety (90) days immediately preceding the filing of a complaint for divorce, or dissolution of marriage. For purposes of this Section, a person shall be deemed a resident if one (1) of the parties has been assigned with the U.S. Military to a unit on Guam or a ship home-ported in Guam for at least ninety (90) days immediately preceding the filing of a complaint for divorce or dissolution of marriage or if one (1) of the parties is physically present in Guam for at least ninety (90) days immediately preceding the filing of a complaint for divorce or dissolution of marriage. Physical presence by one of the parties in Guam for a period of ninety (90) days prior to filing of the action for divorce or dissolution of marriage shall give rise to a conclusive presumption of compliance with this Section.
(b) If both parties consent in writing to a divorce or dissolution of their marriage, a divorce or dissolution may be granted if one of the parties has resided in Guam for at least seven (7) days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.
SOURCE: CC §128, amended by P.L. 13-165:3, as R/R by P.L. 17-81:26. Repealed/reenacted by P.L. 19-34:28; and amended by P.L. 27-129, and P.L. 28-93.
19 GCA §8319. Residence, no presumption of jurisdiction.
(a) In actions for dissolution of marriage, neither the domicile nor residence of the husband shall be deemed to be the domicile or residence of the wife.
For the purposes of such an action, each may have a separate domicile or residence depending upon proof of the fact and not upon legal presumptions.
Physical presence in Guam for ninety (90) days next preceding the commencement of the action shall give rise to a conclusive presumption of residence in Guam as required by §8318 of this Chapter.
Allegations and proof of residence or other compliance with the requirements of §8318 of this Chapter shall be pled or proved in any divorce or dissolution of marriage granted upon the consent of the Defendant, and the court shall make findings as to residency of any party to a divorce or dissolution of marriage or as to compliance with the requirements of §8318 of this Chapter in any divorce or dissolution of marriage granted upon the consent of the Defendant.
Residency must be pled and proved in all divorces or other actions for dissolutions of marriage.
Only the parties (i.e., the husband or wife) or the court can raise the issue of or object to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of Guam in an action for divorce or dissolution of marriage, residence of the parties, or other compliance with §8318 of this Chapter in any case even where the defendant has consented to the divorce or dissolution of marriage. The Superior Court of Guam is not presumed to have jurisdiction over any action for divorce or dissolution of marriage which may be filed in the Superior Court of Guam because the defendant consents.
(b) All consents to a divorce or dissolution of marriage must be acknowledged or verified before a notary public or other officer authorized to administer oaths within the United States if signed in the United States, acknowledged or verified before a consular officer of the United States or other United States official authorized to take oaths if signed outside the United States, or have a notarized acknowledgement or verification by a foreign notary which is authenticated by a United States consular officer.”
SOURCE: CC §129, R/R by P.L. 17-81:27. Repealed/reenacted by P.L. 19-34:28 (effective date 12/19/88), and amended by P.L. 28-93.
§8320. Default, When Allowed.
No dissolution of marriage can be granted upon the uncorroborated statement, admission or testimony of the parties in any contested action for dissolution of marriage, but the court must require proof of the facts alleged. In the event of uncontested, consent or default divorce actions, the court may grant a divorce based upon the verified complaint of the Plaintiff or Petitioner if it appears to be in the interests of justice. Any corroboration or evidence which the court may require in default, consent, or other uncontested divorces shall be in the form of sworn affidavits.
Full Faith and Credit.
Guam was ceded to the United States as a territory in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Peace with Spain , signed at Paris , December 10, 1898 , and proclaimed April 11, 1899 . 48 U.S.C.A. § 1421.
28 U.S.C.A. § 1738 states:
"The records and judicial proceedings of any court of any such State, Territory or Possession, or copies thereof, shall be proved or admitted in other courts within the United States and its Territories and Possessions by the attestation of the clerk and seal of the court annexed, if a seal exists, together with a certificate of a judge of the court that the said attestation is in proper form.
"Such Acts, records and judicial proceedings or copies thereof, so authenticated, shall have the same full faith and credit in every court within the United States and its Territories and Possessions as they have by law or usage in the courts of such State, Territory or Possession from which they are taken. June 25, 1948 , c. 646, 62 Stat. 947."
Extending full faith and credit to include court judgments of territories and possessions of the United States, through 28 U.S.C.A. § 1738, is constitutional. Americana of Puerto Rico, Inc. v. Kaplus, 368 F.2d 431 (3d Cir.1966). It is the basic goal of full faith and credit to coordinate the administration of justice throughout the nation. "[T]o achieve this goal Congress enacted Section 1738 and by use of the words 'State, Territory or Possession' Congress intended to unify all of the courts in our system of government." Americana at 438. See Feore v. Feore, 627 So.2d 411 (Ala. Civ. App.,1993).
There is therefore little question that a properly obtained divorce judgment of a Guam court, stands on equal footing with a judgment rendered by any State court, and must be given full faith and credit by other courts of the United StatesGumataotao and Pole
115 San Ramon Street Hagatna, GU 96932 GU
Phone: 671-475-0200 Website: divorceinguam.com