Cite as Mongkeya v. Brackett,
2 FSM Intrm. 291 (Kos. 1986)

[2 FSM Intrm. 291]

SHRUE MONGKEYA, for herself and
on behalf of LARSON MONGKEYA, a minor,



CIVIL ACTION NO. 1985-2001

Before Richard H. Benson
Associate Justice
November 27, 1986

     For the Plaintiff:               Maketo Robert
                                               P.O. Box 979
                                               Pohnpei, FSM 96941

     For the Defendant:          Michael Berman
                                               P.O. Box 1491
                                               Pohnpei, FSM 96941

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[2 FSM Intrm. 292]
     Where there is diversity of citizenship between the parties, litigation involving domestic relations issues, including custody and child support, falls within the jurisdiction of the FSM Supreme Court.  Mongkeya v. Brackett, 2 FSM Intrm. 291, 292 (Kos. 1986).

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RICHARD H. BENSON, Associate Justice:
     By order filed November 4, 1986 the court denied, without opinion, the defendant's motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction.

     Reasons are now stated.

     The issue presented by the motion is whether this court should exercise its diversity jurisdiction in matters of domestic concern.

     The parties agree that diversity of citizenship exists which is the basis for the court's jurisdiction.  FSM Const. art. XI, 6(b).

     The plaintiff seeks custody and support of her son from the defendant, the putative father.

     The defendant asserts that this case does not fall within the subject matter jurisdiction of the FSM Supreme Court.  He asks that an exception be made to the court's jurisdiction since this is a "domestic matter."  He notes that federal courts in the United States refuse jurisdiction in diversity cases for probate and domestic matters.  He argues that the domestic matters exception should be applied here.

     This court adopts the reasoning of In re Nahnsen, 1 FSM Intrm. 97 (Pon. 1982).  Nahnsen explained how the exception for probate matters in diversity jurisdiction arose from unique historical circumstances.  Probate matters in the English courts of chancery of the 1700's were typically handled by ecclesiastical courts and fell outside the common law and equity  jurisdiction.  This approach fathered the current treatment of probate jurisdiction in U.S. law.  Domestic matters were also heard by the ecclesiastical courts and a similar exception to jurisdiction developed in the same manner as it did for probate.

     In Micronesia there have not been separate courts of law and of equity.  No ecclesiastical courts have existed.  Nahnsen, 1 FSM Intrm. at 104.  Therefore no historic justification for the proposed exception exists.

     Domestic matters are more appropriately regulated by the state. II J. of

[2 FSM Intrm. 293]

Micro. Con. Con. 814; SCREP No. 33 (Oct. 10, 1975).  "The conclusion that the powers to regulate probate, inheritance and land matters are powers of the states rather than the national government, of course does not suggest that this court is without jurisdiction to preside over proceedings involving the exercise of those Powers."  Nahnsen, 1 FSM Intrm. at 108.  This reasoning is adopted in this case which involves a domestic matter.

     Jurisdiction in this case exists by virtue of diversity of citizenship. The motion to dismiss was therefore denied.

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