Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo terminated yesterday the parental rights of a father who is currently incarcerated in Guam, saying it is clear that John Naputi has abandoned his three children on Saipan.
Govendo said the evidence shows that Naputi has abandoned the children by failing to provide support, exercising his visitation rights, or maintaining contact with them.
“While the fact shows that Naputi is incarcerated in Guam, which prevents him from fulfilling his parental obligations toward his children, he has neither shown any interest in establishing a relationship with his children nor has he ever attempted to assert his legal rights,” Govendo said.
The children’s mother was given sole legal and physical custody of the children.
The judge granted the mother’s request to change the children’s names by taking out their last name “Naputi.”
Govendo said new birth certificates will be issued to the children.
Naputi was directed to pay the mother $30,940 in prior unpaid child support. However, with the termination of his parental rights, Naputi shall not be further obligated to provide additional and ongoing support for the children.
Govendo said the mother may take any action to collect on the $30,940 judgment.
According to court records, the mother and the guardian ad litem of the children, through counsel Steven J. Nutting, filed motions for the termination of Naputi’s parental rights and for the change in the names of the children.
At the hearing last Oct. 26, the court was informed that Naputi is incarcerated in Guam and could not appear. It was not indicated why Naputi is in jail.
Naputi was served with the motions, but he failed to file any opposition.
On Dec. 10, 2012, Govendo entered a decree of paternity and order for support, declaring Naputi the natural father of the three children.
The decree ordered Naputi to pay permanent child support in the amount of $500 per month and entered judgment for retroactive support in the amount of $14,440.
The decree further gave the mother sole legal and physical custody of the children, subject to visitation rights for Naputi.
Govendo noted that since the entry of his decree, Naputi has only exercised his visitation rights once, sometime in 2012 or 2013.
Govendo said Naputi has not had any other contact with the children.
Govendo said Naputi failed to provide any child support for the children and has back child support totaling $30,940.
The judge said while the CNMI does not have and should have a specific statute for a proceeding to terminate parental rights, the CNMI Supreme Court gave some guidance.