Babauta told to pay ex-wife $800 monthly

Superior Court Judge Pro Tempore Timothy H. Bellas yesterday ordered former governor Juan N. Babauta to pay his former wife, Diana Chong, $800 a month.

Bellas issued the order after hearing Chong’s motion for an order in aid of judgment to collect from Babauta a court judgment of about $80,000 in spousal support, child support payments, and others.

Babauta appeared in court with his counsel, Stephen Nutting. Chong appeared with her counsel, Michael Dotts.

Babauta at first agreed to talk to reporters after the hearing but, after talking with his counsel for several minutes, he later told the media he will not comment as negotiations are still ongoing between him and Chong.

Dotts told Saipan Tribune that Bellas’ interim order directed Babauta to pay $800 a month and that $500 of that is for spousal support. The remaining $300 a month will be applied to court judgment in the total amount of $80,000.

“The $300 a month that applies to the judgment won’t even cover the interest. However, he’s got no income right now, presently he’s unemployed,” the lawyer said, referring to the former governor.

Dotts said they’re disappointed with the amount. “Eight hundred dollars is really small,” he said.

The lawyer said they are, however, pleased to finally have a judge since filing the motion in January. “It took us this long to get a judge because the judges all found reasons to recuse themselves,” Dotts said.

Now that they have a judge, he said they have a little bit of money each month and they can proceed with selling some of Babauta’s property to get the whole amount paid.

Dotts said if they can’t work on something else for the full payment of what Babauta owes, they will be looking at filing a writ of execution.

With the writ of execution, they will try to have the court sell some of Babauta’s property “because he does have a lot of property,” Dotts said.

Babauta and Chong reportedly separated in 2002. They have a son who is now 22 years old.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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