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Trying a case - In Paradise (International Family Law style)

As I write this, a storm has been blowing through the rain forest.  Rain, pelting down, bending palm leaves and tree ferns to the ground.  As I write this, hundreds, if not thousands of rain forest tree frogs are making their cacophonous music heard to my American ears.  As I write this, the fog envelops the mountain and lightning strikes out over the Pacific. As I write this, the air is sweet with the smell of tropical flowers, blooming prolifically and fragrantly in the soaking rain.

I'm in Costa Rica.  I'm trying a case.  But not today.

Today I'm in Domincal, actually about two miles above Dominical, sheltered by a house on the edge of the mountain.  The house looks out across the Pacific Ocean. 

On Wednesday I return to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.  I was there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday getting ready to and trying a Hague Convention case.  Perhaps you've heard about it in the news.  On Wednesday, our trial resumes.

The parties are a Cobb County couple, married 11 years.  My client is the husband/father.  The mother is a Costa Rican by birth, but became a US Citizen many years ago.  As she has done every year for years and years, she took their two daughters, 10 and 5, back to Heredia, Costa Rica, Marietta's Sister City. The mother took the girls home for the annual visit to her family.  Only this time, the mother and the girls did not come back.

The mother gave no warning to the father.  "See you in three weeks.  Love you." But such was not her plan.  Such was not her heart. 

Like some women in mid-life crisis, she had renewed an old love, a college flame, a flame in Costa Rica.  Over the six months before she left, the mother and her renewed beau rekindled and stoked the passion of their decades old romance. When mother left, she was never coming back.  She was to start her life over, her new life, her new life in Costa Rica with her new man.

Such is life.  But mother took the girls and intended for their father to never see them again.

Their father, my client, by all reports, is a man of exceptional character and exceptional devotion and attention to his daughers.  All the family friends spoke exceptionally well of the father, his committment, his love for those very special little girls.  Also, the family friends spoke well of the mother, which is why I have such a great comfort level with their reports.  My client is above reproach.

Not until we filed our Hague action in November of 2011 did the mother raise the pectre of abuse.  Under Article 13, a judge can deny return if there is a grave risk to the child.  Mother feels this is her trump card.  However there exists no evidence whatsover and no one mother ever confided in, before she was caught in her torrid affair, ever heard strains of mother's complaints or saw any suggestion of such tension in this family. An Article 13 defense is a tired old song in Hague law.

Now we are in Costa Rica, pursuing our Hague action in an effort to bring the girls home.

Our Costa Rican Judge is fantastic.  She appears exceptionally well versed in Hague law.  She holds no faith in mother's specious claims of abuse.  She well understands mother's dark heart in depriving her daughters of their father's love, care and support.  She well understands the mother's complete disregard of her daughter's well being by snatching them up from the community they have known, the community they excelled in, the community that gave them sustenance every day upon this earth.

So on Wednesday, after the Costa Rican' national holiday, our trial in San Jose will resume; our struggle to have the girls sent home will continue. 

And I am so blessed and so thankful, to have the Costa Rican Court's permission to try this case, my client's faith in our eventual success and in the greater powers that be for my opportunity to be here at this moment, trying this case, in Paradise.

Michael Manely

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