Travel Magazines Promote Travel to Costs Rica

Travel Glossies promote travel to Costa Rica because of its National Parks, Volcanoes, Hummingbird Capital of the World, Adventures, Beaches, World Class Resorts, Coffee, Cacique Guaro, Proximity and the overall happiness and friendliness of its people.

I don’t contribute to Forbes as an expert on travel.  This article isn’t about the reasons to travel to Costa Rica for tourism. I traveled to Costa Rica to assist a father for whom I had litigated custody of his then six year old son in the United States against claims of child sexual abuse made by the child’s mother and won in court here only to find the mother and child (after an exhaustive search) had violated a court order to return the child to the father and traveled with the child to Costa Rica.

Hague Convention Circumvention

I write about Family Law. This article is about women and child custody and Costa Rica. Costa Rica has an enormously powerful and very active women’s group, INAMU (Institut Nacional del a Mujeres), with standing to appear in any Court proceeding including a Hague Convention custody proceeding. The Hague Convention is a treaty signed by the United States and Costa Rica and 83 other countries and 1 regional economic organization regarding custody of children removed from their home state.

Tourist Visa/Asylum Claim

The mother entered Costa Rica on a 90-day tourist visa on July 4, 2018. She applied for asylum based upon her fear of returning to the United States. There was a Federal warrant for her arrest for both passport fraud (she fraudulently obtained a passport for the child) and “Parental Kidnapping”-PKPA. Both are federal crimes. She claimed that the family court (the case had been assigned to three different judges), two child protection agencies, two psychologists who examined the child and the parents, the attorney assigned to represent the child and the social worker assigned to assist the attorney for the child and the police department were all  biased against her. She convinced a Costa Rican three member male panel asylum administrative hearing of her “fear” to return to the United States and thereby met Costa Rica’s parameters for asylum (fear of serious harm or injury if returned to home country) for herself and the child notwithstanding the fact that the mother did not have legal custody of the child and had no legal authority to seek asylum on his behalf.

HAGUE Petitions Granted

The family court in Costa Rica granted the father’s Hague Convention petition to return the child to the United States and the appellate family court upheld the trial court’s decision on appeal by the mother and INAMU. The mother and INAMU appealed to the constitutional court in Costa Rica (Costa Rica’s highest level court) which found that the mother and child’s asylum “trumped” the Hague petition, allowing  the mother and the child to reside legally in Costa Rica. Costa Rica would not return the child to the United States.

Father Charged with Sexual Abuse of His Son In Costa Rica

The mother repeated her “unfounded” claims of sexual abuse in New York to the criminal prosecutor in San Jose and Costa Rica exerted jurisdiction over any sexual abuse allegation that occurred “anywhere in the world”.  The father on a trip in July 2019 to “visit” with his son while in “protective custody” was arrested and currently awaits criminal trial in Costa Rica. He cannot leave the country as the criminal court authorities took possession of his passport. He faces up to thirty years in prison in Costa Rica for an alleged “crime” already investigated by the NYPD SVU (Special Victims Unit), child protective services and two psychologists, one a child sexual abuse forensic expert in New York, all finding the allegations against him to be “unfounded.”

The Child

The child (after having been placed in protective custody upon being “found” in Costa Rica) was returned to his mother’s custody by the Costa Rica child protective authorities, PANI (the same organization that assists parents whose children have been unlawfully removed to Costa Rica in locating them). The father’s custody order of the New York family court remains the only custody order. The child is now 8 years old and lived in Costa Rica for over two years almost exclusively with his mother. The child was interviewed by Costa Rican social workers in Spanish, a language the child claimed to speak, “un poquito” (a little).

The mother cannot travel out of Costa Rica as there is an Interpol “Red Alert” on her U.S. passport and a “Yellow Alert” on the child’s U.S. passport. The federal indictment of the mother for two felonies remains in place. The maximum sentence is up to ten years in prison for both felonies combined.

ALERT to Fathers

In my investigation of what led the mother to Costa Rica from New York, I found a U.S. website (since removed) that “advertised” women who had been “wronged” by family court custody decisions in the United Stated and found safety and refuge with their children in Costa Rica. The photos included on the website were all of white women who had “wrongly” lost custody of their child(ren) in a family court in the United States and were now living in Costa Rica.

Innocent travel to a country known for its warmth and friendliness, may, in a contested custody case, result in your child being taken from you to reside permanently in Costa Rica. The United States Department of State Bureau of Consular affairs publishes annual reports as to the results of Hague petitions made in countries who are signatories to the Hague Convention.  In the Annual Reports on International Child Abduction on Travel.gov Costa Rica is cited in the report for “non-compliance.”  

The Cost Of “Custody” Travel

The financial cost is immeasurable: Lawyers in two countries, experts in two countries, legal proceedings in two counties, maintaining homes in two countries, not to mention job loss. The human cost is even greater- the cost of losing your child.

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