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International Child Custody
Country-by-Country Information About Child Abduction and Divorce
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Costa Rica: Family Law

From the State Department's Annual Report on International Child Abduction:

Costa Rica demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance in 2015 because:

          -The judicial authority regularly failed to implement and comply with the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention.

The Convention is in force between the United States and Costa Rica.

To improve the resolution of abduction cases in Costa Rica, the Department recommends that the United States:

          -Hold bilateral meetings with Costa Rican officials to encourage Costa Rica to comply with its obligations under the Convention. 

Costa Rica's relevant statistics regarding Abduction & Access cases can be seen below:

Costa Rica & Child Abduction: Excerpts from the 2013 through 2015 State Department Reports on Compliance with the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction

2013: The Office of Children's Issues of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs has recently released the annual report on Hague Convention compliance. The report details various issues of non-compliance with member countries.

Not Compliant with the Convention:

Costa Rica

In 2012, Costa Rica demonstrated non-compliance with the Convention in the areas of central authority and judicial performance. While the Costa Rican Central Authority (CRCA) showed slight improvement in responsiveness, communication remains difficult. The CRCA's failure to expedite cases internally and systemic delays within the Costa Rican judiciary resulted in lengthy wait times for Hague cases.

Although court delays prevented the resolution of several cases this year, First Instance and Appellate court judges rendered decisions this year consistent with Convention principles. Nevertheless, the U.S. Central Authority remains concerned about the effect on future cases of the precedent-setting September 2011 Costa Rican Supreme Court decision that is inconsistent with Hague Abduction Convention principles. In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that courts hearing Abduction Convention petitions must consider the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other legislation to determine the best interests of children in Abduction Convention cases.

Case Summary: Costa Rica

1.  The child was located in July 2011. In September 2011, the Costa Rican Central Authority (CRCA) rejected the application based on Article 12 of the Convention. In November 2011, after U.S. Central Authority (USCA) staff visited the CRCA, the CRCA agreed to accept the case and submit it to a court for a decision. In December 2011, the CRCA informed the USCA that the court would attempt mediation. Mediation hearings were rescheduled several times, including in August 2012, when the taking parent and left-behind parent were both present but the hearing could not take place because a translator did not appear. Mediation failed during the first completed hearing in November 2012, and the judge announced the start of Convention proceedings. The USCA and U.S. Embassy San Jose have regularly requested updates from the CRCA on the progress of the case.

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2014: The Office of Children's Issues of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs has recently released the annual report on Hague Convention compliance. The report details various issues of non-compliance with member countries.

Not Compliant with the Convention:

Costa Rica

Costa Rica demonstrated non-compliance with the Hague Convention in the areas of judicial and central authority performance. The U.S. Central Authority (USCA) and the Costa Rican Central Authority (CRCA) maintain a cordial relationship, and communication improved slightly in 2013. However, the CRCA continues to fail to expedite abduction cases, compounding already systemic case delays within the Costa Rican judiciary.

First and second instance courts generally deliver verdicts that are consistent with Hague principles. However, once those cases reach Costa Rica's Supreme Court, they are reversed based on interpretations of Costa Rican law and international treaty standards, creating decisions that are inconsistent with Hague principles. The USCA remains concerned regarding a precedent-setting September 2011 decision by the Constitutional Court, a division of the country's Supreme Court, which ruled that courts should consider "the best interests of the child" rather than habitual residence when deciding Hague Convention cases and reversed a return order. In June 2013, that court reversed another return order based on similar rationale, citing the September 2011 decision, international treaties, and Costa Rican law.

Case Summaries: Costa Rica

1.  A court hearing was held in February 2013. In March 2013, the first instance court denied the child's return. In July 2013 the appeals court upheld the lower court ruling. The left-behind parent (LBP) then filed an appeal with the Costa Rican Supreme Court. In November 2013, the LBP informed us that the Supreme Court denied the LBP's appeal but at the end of the reporting period the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) had not received a copy of the court's decision. The USCA and U.S. Embassy San Jose have regularly requested updates, and a copy of the appellate ruling, from the Costa Rican Central Authority.

2.  In April 2013, the Costa Rican Central Authority (CRCA) informed the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) that the children had been located. In May 2013, a CRCA representative warned the USCA that a Costa Rican constitutional provision, which prohibits Costa Ricans from leaving the country against their will, would likely be a factor in any decision regarding the children's return, since the children are U.S.-Costa Rican nationals. During a hearing in August 2013, an individual from the CRCA's parent agency highlighted the same constitutional provision and stated that it was in the children's best interests to stay in Costa Rica with their mother. In August 2013, the first instance court ruled against the children's return, finding them well-settled under Article 12 of the Hague Abduction Convention, although only three months had passed between the abduction and filing dates. At the end of the reporting period, the left-behind parent stated he intended to appeal the ruling. 

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