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Author Topic: Man fights to return children from Costa Rica  (Read 3836 times)

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Offline SageDad

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Man fights to return children from Costa Rica
« on: April 23, 2012, 11:16:53 AM »
Man fights to return children from Costa Rica


WSB-TV
"I've never been an absentee dad, and I'm not going to start now," Christopher Camacho told Channel 2's Carl Willis.


[size=1.167em]By
Carl Willis[/size]
[size=1.167em]COBB COUNTY, Ga. — [/size]

[/size][size=1.167em]A Cobb County custody battle is drawing the attention of the U.S. State Department.

The mother of two Cobb County girls born and raised in Austell has taken the children to her native Costa Rica.

"These things are happening on a daily basis," said attorney Michael Manely.

The woman's husband, Christopher Camacho, said that she told him she was just taking the girls there to visit their grandparents. Soon after, he said his wife decided that she didn't want to be married anymore and that she and the children weren’t coming home.

"We're going on 11 months since I've seen my girls, and she's never picked up the phone or emailed me to say, ‘Let's work something out,’" Camacho said.

Channel 2 Action News obtained a copy of the lawsuit Camacho and his attorney filed in Cobb County. It shows that Camacho was granted temporary custody, but he said that doesn't hold much weight if the girls are being kept out of the country.

"I've never been an absentee dad, and I'm not going to start now," he said. "If it takes me fighting to stay active and involved and connected with them until they're old enough to make some decisions on their own, then that's what I'll do."

This week, he plans to fly to Costa Rica with his lawyer for a custody trial. The proceedings will determine where the girls will live as the court decides what's best for them.

Manely said the law is clear under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The international treaty focuses on the child's habitual residence before an alleged wrongful removal takes place.

"The test is: where did the girls live before the action was filed," Manely said. "There's a one-year period under the convention that says if the action is brought within a year of their removal, then the return is mandatory."

Manely said the U.S. State Department will have a formal observer in Camacho's trial on Friday.

He said that will be a first since the department criticized Costa Rica's record in following the letter of the law.

Camacho said he's just ready for his day in court.

"My intention is not to take the kids away from their mother, or their mot[/size][size=1.167em]her away from them," he said. "I just want to bring them back to where they were born and raised and the only home they know."[/size][size=1.167em]
http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/man-fights-return-children-costa-rica/nMftj/ [/color][/color][/font]
“What you seek is seeking you.”
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Offline crcamacho

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Re: Man fights to return children from Costa Rica
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2012, 09:48:25 AM »
For all who read the post and wondered what the status of this case was, here is a quick update:

The hearing concluded on May 9th, 2012. Closing arguments were due, in writing, on May 14th, 2012.  We're now waiting for the judge to render a decision.   

As other left behind parents know, the burden and stresses (emotional, spiritual, financial) of dealing with this have been tremendous.  I did get to see my children when I traveled to Costa Rica the week of April 23rd, so that alleviated a little bit of anxiety.  It was very hard to leave them and my youngest, Elena (6 years old) would not let go of me.  My eldest, Isabella (11 years old) is under a lot of duress; friends and family in Costa Rica have made it clear that she needs to be on "their side" and have stuck her in the middle at every opportunity.  I've done my best to shield her from that , but there's only so much you can do when you are 1500 miles away.   

For those interested, here are links to a few stories posted by local newspaper and television stations:

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/man-fights-return-children-costa-rica/nMftj/

http://www.mdjonline.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Austell+man+in+Costa+Rica+for+custody+battle%20&id=18377737

http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/18548997/article-Father%E2%80%99s-attorney-expects-custody-ruling-next-week?instance=home_top_bullets





Offline StrngConviction

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Re: Man fights to return children from Costa Rica
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2012, 11:10:29 PM »
My prayers are with you and your family Christopher.
Behind this smile is something only we LBP understand.
                May God be with ALL our children.

Offline crcamacho

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Re: Man fights to return children from Costa Rica
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2012, 11:11:09 PM »
Still no decision on the case.  Expecting the worse but hoping and praying for the best.

Offline SageDad

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Re: Man fights to return children from Costa Rica
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2012, 12:40:41 AM »
Is there a fixed period of time within which a decision must be published?
“What you seek is seeking you.”
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Offline crcamacho

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Re: Man fights to return children from Costa Rica
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2013, 10:58:38 AM »
Have not updated case status in awhile.  Things took a turn for the worse and it's been a challenge to deal with it.

As I had posted previously, the courts in Cobb County, GA ordered the children back.  The Family Court in Costa Rica ordered the children back.  The Appellate Court in Costa Rica upheld the Family Courts decision and also ordered the children returned to the U.S.

A complaint was filed by the girls mother in the Costa Rican Constitutional Court (also called the Human Rights Court) asking that the court block the return order and give "refugee" status to her and the children.  The Constitutional court subsequently annulled the rulings of the Family and Appellate Courts that the children must be returned to the US.  Therefore my daughters restitution has been denied…
 
The grounds given were a statute in the Costa Rican constitution preventing any Costa Rican citizen from being forced to leave the country against their will.  The children were made Costa Rican citizens without my consent or knowledge 4 months AFTER the Hague Child Abduction complaint had been placed with US and Costa Rican governments. 
 
 It was difficult news, because there is no other Court or entity I can appeal to at this time. After "winning" in the U.S. and twice in Costa Rica, after two years one judge has made a decision to block my children's return.  With that decision, he's essentially condoned the children's abduction, granted custody to the girls mother, invalidated the decisions of his peers in the Family courts, violated an international treaty his country is a signatory to and thrown any rights I have as a parent out the window.
 
The family in Costa Rica no longer bothers to answer the phone, return emails or let the children respond to letters. I've spoken to my youngest daughter (7 years old )  3x this year, my eldest daughter (11 years old) not at all.  The Family Court judge has advised me not to travel to Costa Rica, because the children's mother can file an alimony complaint (even though we are divorced now) which would mean my passport would be seized and I'd have to stay in country until the complaint was resolved in court.

At this point, there's not much else I can do.   I am amazed and disappointed at how ineffetual and passive the State Dept. has been.  I went to both Senators in GA and my Representative, and they were unable/unwilling to do much more than email the State Dept.  and inquire about case status.  I tried to connect directly with Ambassador Susan Jacobs, who was appointed as Special Advisor to the Office of Children’s Issues, prior to her trip to Costa Rica, and was chastized by the State Dept. case worker for it.

It has been an emotionally, spiritually and financially draining experience so far.  I pray daily for the necessary resilience to keep up the fight.