TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side Investigates is following breaking developments in an international custody battle involving a local mother.
The U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida ruled Wednesday that Christy Bailey’s children can finish out the school year in Tampa before moving to the country of Panama.
This is a win for the mother who has been involved in a decade-long custody battle.
Bailey’s twin boys were born in Panama. Bailey claims the children’s father, Roque Fernandez, was abusive.
Bailey fled the country with the children in 2014.
Now, more than five years later, the U.S. federal courts have determined that the children must be returned to Panama.
In a November 2018 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit stated that “the American mother of the twin boys at the center of this case abducted them twice from Panama before they were 6 years old.”
On Wednesday, the judge stated the purpose of the hearing was to determine the least disruptive plan for the boy’s return to Panama.
The father’s attorney released this statement on Wednesday:
“The issues of abuse were raised by the Mother in an attempt to evade a return under the Hague Convention. The US Federal Courts in both Missouri and in Florida rejected the Mother’s claims that a return would subject the children to a grave risk of harm.
Ms. Bailey failed to present credible evidence of abuse supporting an exception to return. In addition, the Panamanian Court – which is the proper Court to make custody decisions – initially provided the Father with supervised visits after the Mother made abuse claims in that court. After a period of time, the Panamanian court found that the Father posed no risk to the children and granted him an unsupervised visitation schedule.
With respect to the criminal status of the Father, that is a factor that the Panamanian Court will take into consideration when deciding custody issues.”
This is a developing story, please check back and watch News Channel 8 at 6 p.m. for the latest.