Friday, June 27, 2008

International Child Visitation to Colombia

We represented the mother in successfully defeating the Hague International Child Abduction Convention portion of this case in North Carolina.

International child-custody case settled

A boy, 12, will live in the U.S. with his mother. His father can visit but can't take the boy to visit Colombia against his will

A custody tug-of-war spanning two continents was settled Monday in Durham County court [North Carolina], ending a protracted dispute embodying international treaties and questions of travel safety.
Alejandro Ramirez Polania, a 12-year-old in Durham, will live in the United States with his mother, a judge ruled. His father, who lives in Colombia, may visit, according to the settlement agreement, but the boy will not be forced against his will to visit a country where his mother fears he might be a target of kidnappers. The case resulted in at least one complaint to the Judicial Standards Commission about Judge Craig Brown, who since has stepped down from the bench. Alejandro's mother, Claudia Krehbiel, also filed a federal lawsuit against the state attorney general because of her dissatisfaction with Brown's finding in August that Colombia was safe enough for her son to visit. During a four-day hearing in July and August, experts debated the safety of Bogota in a Durham courtroom. A former FBI agent and a Colombian colonel testified to dangers lurking in the capital. The father presented reports showing a decline in crime.

Judge removes self
After the complaint to the judicial standards commission, a grievance that was never publicly investigated, Brown removed himself from the case. When Brown stepped down from the bench in May, he did not reveal his reasons for the sudden departure. As the family waited for a hearing in front of a different judge, mother, son and stepfather tried to enlist a global audience in their battle. The Web site shows a picture of Alejandro, his arms crossed, standing by an American flag. "My life, my story. ... please help keep me safe!" the banner reads. Alejandro moved to the United States with his mother when he was 6. His parents, both native Colombians, never married. But both wanted to play a role in his life. The judge ordered regular communication via e-mail and other computer technologies. He ordered the family to take down the Web site and said the visitation issue could be revisited only through a court order.
The News & Observer, Jun 24, 2008, Anne Blythe, Staff Writer