Mother fighting U.S. custody case files another court appeal

A woman who took her child to Costa Rica filed another Sala IV constitutional court appeal to avoid having the girl sent back to the father in Missouri.

The woman is Trina Atwell Chavarria, who has followed in the footsteps of other runaway moms. She even filed for refugee status for herself and the child.

She would be a refugee from the Green County, Missouri, court where a judge awarded sole custody to Roy Koyama, the father. In December Koyama said he was pleased to be the first person to receive a judicial decree here based on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The convention says that child custody issues should be resolved by the court of initial jurisdiction, in this case Green County. But Costa Rica has been slow to comply with the Hague treaty. In fact one woman was granted refugee status so that she would not have to face federal
child abduction charges in the United States. The plight of mothers resonates well with the Costa Rican public.

Ms. Atwell’s case already has had one hearing before the Sala IV. The child is now in the custody of the Patronato Nacional de Infancia, the child welfare agency.

Koyama expected a representative of the agency to escort the child to Missouri in December. He said he even purchased air tickets. However, the DefensorĂ­a de los Habitantes filed its own Sala IV appeal claiming that the Hague treaty had been incorrectly interpreted.

Ms. Atwell, who is married to a Costa Rican, is seeking to have her child returned. She claims she suffered abuse at the hands of Koyama. She also said on a Web page that he was a drug user. Koyama has no forum in Costa Rica to answer these allegations.

Ms. Atwell fled Missouri Feb 9, 2009. Koyama has been persistent in trying to find her and the daughter and in pressing his judicial case.

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