Central Florida attorney (Stepfather) marries pregnant Mother and raises Son as though Son is his own child from time of Son’s birth here in Florida.
Mother, Son and Stepfather live in Florida.
Mother and Son visit Costa Rica once annually.
In 2004, Mother and Stepfather divorce.
In 2008, Son’s biological father (Father) files a legal case to keep Son in Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican court awards Father temporary custody of Son and orders that Son remain in Costa Rica.
This temporary ruling is upheld in higher Costa Rican courts.
Stepfather files a return application under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, asserting that Son was wrongfully retained in Costa Rica.
Frustrated by the slow progress of that case, Stepfather gets Son back to Florida using private third parties with military backgrounds.
Shortly before the final hearing is supposed to take place in Costa Rica, Stepfather and Mother secure Son’s return to Florida.
Mother and Stepfather are reportedly branded criminals in certain circles.
Father files in a Florida court for Son’s return to Costa Rica under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Father’s Florida case is not about custody of Son, but about the place of Son’s habitual residence prior to Mother’s and Father’s removal of Son from Costa Rica and the proper jurisdiction to determine custody of Son.
Stepfather is litigating this case vigorously, having thus far lost his gambit to have it dismissed entirely.
Stepfather maintains that his legal paternity of Son was legally established in his divorce from Mother (not a Florida stepparent adoption proceeding). Based on that position, in the eyes of the law, Stepfather was already legally determined to be Son’s legal father here in Florida long prior to Father’s filing of any legal case asserting rights to Son.
But, regardless of the legislative intent behind the Hague Convention, it affords a legal remedy to persons with “rights of custody”, and is not strictly limited to biological or legal parents.
Further, Father counterargues that Stepfather and Mother fraudulently amended their divorce paperwork regarding Son after proceedings in Costa Rica were filed … and that Father had no notice of same.
Stepfather counters back that Father more or less abandoned Son for nine years, before filing in Costa Rica.
A sad and complex case …