Monday, June 21, 2010

International Child Custody Battle Between Biological Father and Legal Father

"Where should boy grow up?

International Custody Battle Waged in Ocala Courts"
A case featured in The Atlantic magazine is far from over.


Published: Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 9:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 9:29 p.m.

"Last March, Todd Hopson turned to a stranger with military training to help reunite him with the boy he's raised since birth.

These days, the Ocala lawyer is using more conventional means to prevent the possibility of another separation: court motions.

In October, the biological father of Andres Hopson - Jason Alvarado - filed a petition in Circuit Court here asking a judge to order the boy's return to Costa Rica, a place the child last recollects through blurry images caught through the window of a fast-moving van.

Alvarado, a dentist by trade, claims Andres was wrongfully removed from Costa Rica last year and that pursuant to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, he must immediately be returned.

Hopson, who claims Florida recognizes his legal paternity over Andres, has tried to get this case dismissed.

That request was recently denied, keeping a case with a remarkable, complex story afloat for now, and bringing to the surface issues relating to paternity, custody, international treaties and habitual residency.

The story concerns two men living in separate countries who think each is the rightful father of a 10-year-old boy living a typical, suburban existence here in Ocala.

Andres was born at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala on Sept. 6, 1999. His mother, Helen Zapata, met Hopson while he vacationed in Costa Rica. She was pregnant at that point with Alvarado's child.

She returned to the United States with Hopson, where they married.

Hopson raised Andres like his son, although he was not his biological father."

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