A Quebec father living in Costa Rica claims he is deprived of justice in this Central American country, while his ex-spouse who also lives there has prevented him from seeing their two children for nearly two years.
Maxime (fictitious name to protect the identity of the two children) has not seen her two boys – who are minors – since July 2020. She agrees to share her story, to avoid this sad fate to other relatives.
Several years ago, when both parents were still a couple, they decided to move to Costa Rica with their family and spend most of their time there.
They separated in 2017 and enforced the sentence in Quebec, including the joint custody order. They later returned to live separately in Costa Rica, but the Quebec ruling was not enforced, the father and his lawyer, Mr.And Justin Roberge, specializing in international family law.
This situation is explained in particular because this sentence is not recognized in Costa Rica.
In July 2020, when she had to pick up her children for her care week, the mother refused to let them go. The father indicates – with supporting evidence – that the mother has brought several charges in court in Costa Rica against him, but all of them have been invalidated.
Despite everything, it is still impossible for him to enforce his custody rights. After his father spoke to a judge in Costa Rica – when he hadn’t seen his children for a year – the latter met his mother and the little ones.
Both children said they were not comfortable seeing him again. The judge completed them and signed a statement to that effect. This ruined the father’s hopes of reconnecting with his young in the short term.
“All this was done without experience, without lawyers,” complains Me Roberge, who considers this way of doing things more than questionable.
The lawyer would like to re-establish short-term contacts – virtual for the moment – between the father and the children. “So far the mother does not want to know anything and she is not talkable,” adds MAnd Roberto.
Maxime is convinced that his children have been exposed to parental alienation.
Despite their disagreement, the father would never have believed that the mother could “take” his children from him.
” Never [j’aurais cru]. She teaches the exact opposite. [dans son travail], he argues. The relationship with my children was fantastic! The children could not wish for anything better ”.
Since then, the man says he “survived” this heavy absence every day and consoles himself with a photo album of his children. “I am demolished, destroyed, empty of this love! Every day I have to dig deep inside myself to fall asleep and get through my days, “he says.
A “terrible” story.
The father’s lawyer describes his client’s story as “frightening”. He specifies that the place of residence of the children determines the country of jurisdiction, which in this case is Costa Rica. He intends to prove that his client is deprived of justice and that the case must be heard here.
He questions several maneuvers of the judicial system there. For the moment, the dossier is on ice, the time to gather everything you need to be heard.
The newspaper contacted the mother and her lawyer, but they declined our interview requests.
Living with your family abroad requires precautions
Going to live abroad with your family can be a great adventure, but it is necessary to make legal arrangements before leaving, if you want to avoid harrowing situations like that of Maxime (see other text), warns a specialized lawyer.
Maxime’s story is not common, but neither is it unique, says Daniel Romano, a specialist in international family law.
Without wishing to comment directly on the case, he admits that parents can be deprived of justice and recourse.
“There are quite aberrant situations. It is surprising. It also happens here, but much more often in other jurisdictions », Me Romano observes.
The lawyer believes international family law will gain momentum as more and more families choose to go abroad for the long term. It is therefore important to make legal arrangements before departure.
“When people choose a country they want to go to, they can also learn about the legal system, as well as the climate and the political system,” says Mr. Romano.
Another important point is establishing the place of residence of the children, because it is this element that most often determines the country of jurisdiction.
“They have to establish that the transfer is temporary and that they keep their domicile in Quebec,” says the lawyer.
It indicates that the judicial system in other countries can be very different from that of Quebec and therefore make it difficult to defend one’s rights.
“Here the decisions tend as much as possible not to put one of the parents at a disadvantage”, explains Mr. Romano.
Unfortunately, in many of these cases, Me Romano observes that children are often used as bargaining chips and are exposed to parental alienation, “which is a form of defamation”.
“Any benefit a parent wants to get by playing this game would be detrimental to the child,” he insists. And regardless of the level of hatred, parents need to remember that their child only has two parents. Wanting to deprive them of their relationship with the other deprives them of something irreplaceable and that cannot be bought ”, she concludes.