VOL. 3
[3 PN.L.R. 192]

Pohnpei Civil Action No. 184-88

Trial Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court

July 21, 1988

     Petition for correction of the record to make name of petitioner conform to her present identity. The petitioner had adopted and had been known in her family and the community by her present name, the surname of which was the name of an American formerly employed by the Trust Territory Government who had taken the petitioner as a child and had left his estate for her benefit. The Trial Division of the Pohnpei Supreme Court, JUDAH C. JOHNNY, Associate Justice, granting the petition, held that although the American did not formalize the relationship of parent and child between himself and the petitioner by statute, and inasmuch as non-citizens could not be deemed to be part of the local custom, the petitioner had by that important experience in her life since 1965 changed her identity and it was proper for the Court to grant her request.

1.      Domestic Relations - Customary Adoption of Pohnpeian Child by Non-citizen
A non-citizen may not by custom adopt a Pohnpeian child as non citizens cannot be deemed to be part of the local custom.

2.      Domestic Relations - Certificate of Birth - Correction of Record
Where a person adopts and uses for a considerable period of time a name other than the name appearing on her birth certificate and it appears that her present identity is known in her family and community by that name the Court may grant her petition forthe correction of her birth record to reflect the change in her name.

JUDAH C. JOHNNY, Associate Justice

     The petition of Cathy William came specially for considera-

[3 PN.L.R. 193]

tion: special, in that the petitioner, born in Pohnpei State, and presently in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, has informed this Court in personal telephone conference, that she is en route to the continental United States where her children await her, but has been detained and cannot depart Saipan without a passport, rendering the lives of her children in danger. The practice of 7-day public notice is therefore waived.

     The difficulty in obtaining a valid passport results from the difference in her present identity and the Certificate of Birth issued in Pohnpei State, numbered 156-87.

     Review of the records in this Court reveals that subsequent to the birth of the petitioner, a standard certificate of birth was issued to register her birth, showing her name as KADALINA, born on September 2,1948, and signed by United States Naval Officer, R.W. Holmes, LTJG, MC USN. The certificate showed Junis of Pohnpei, a Micronesian, as mother. No other information was given, even though the form contained blanks to be filled in. By inadvertence, on information of Dohpel William, father of the petitioner, the Division of Vital Statistics, Pohnpei State, issued a new Certificate of Live Birth, on February 18, 1987. The latter

[3 PN.L.R. 194]

certificate carries the name of the petitioner as Cathy William. This certificate is complete as to form and is likewise on file in the Pohnpei Clerk of Courts' Office. There is apparent need to register the petitioner with only one certificate. In determining which of the above-mentioned certificates should be adopted as the official register of the birth of the petitioner, it would seem logical that the first certificate be selected. However, that certificate has problems in itself because of its incompleteness. Numerous blanks on it are unfilled, and it does not carry a certificate number as do certificates that are issued in the current nomenclature.

     "No certificate shall be considered complete and correct:

(1)  that does not supply all the items of information called for thereon, or satisfactorily account for any omission... "Title 7 PART 3.4, Code of Public Regulations. Also, see In the Matter of the, Correction of Birth Certificate No. 947-88 of Samson Hespak, PCA 164-88 (1988).

In keeping with that rule, it seems that the latter certificate (No.15688) should be the one more appropriate to be used in lieu of the one issued in 1948.

     The petitioner seeks correction of the record so that the record conform to her present identity. Her petition indicates that

[3 PN.L.R. 195]

beginning in 1965, she had adopted and thereafter to date, had been known in her family and community by the new name Katherine Sullivan. Sullivan is the name of an American man who was employed by the Trust Territory Government in the 1960's and who took the petitioner as a child and had left his estate for the benefit of the petitioner. See In the Matter of the Estate of Joseph Richard Sullivan, Pohnpei Probate Case No. 4 (1964).
     [1-2] The deceased and the petitioner established between themselves a mutual relationship illustrative to parent-child relation in Pohnpei tradition, although they did not formalize that relationship by statute which permitted such procedure. We have held that non-citizens cannot be deemed to become part of the local custom. In re Ariam, 7 TTR 426 (1976) and In the Matter of the adoption of Selina Eliam, Pohnpei Civil Action 258-87 (1988). Nevertheless, the petitioner has by that important experience in her life, since 1965, changed her identity in recognition thereof. She has successfully attained that new identification in her family and the communities in which she lives. It is only proper that this Court grants her that identity which she cherishes.

     The petitioner seeks correction of the birth record. As it is, that

[3 PN.L.R. 196]

record is correct. The petition would be for a change of the name of the petitioner, and this Court will therefore treat the petition as a petition for a change of name.

     Accordingly, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:

     1. The Certificate of Birth issued in 1948 to certify the birth of the petitioner is incorporated and becomes part of Pohnpei Certificate of Live Birth No. 156-87 so that henceforth the official birth record of the petitioner will be Certificate No. 156-87.

     2. The name of the petitioner is changed from Kadalina and Cathy William, so that she will hereafter be known and referred to legally as KATHERINE SULLIVAN.

     3. The Clerk of Courts is authorized to note all changes in the record pursuant to the established rule.
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