Child Custody and Visitation in Jupiter, Florida

In a recent child custody and visitation case, the Court denied visitation in a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention. In Matura v. Griffith, the Florida Court of Appeal stated: “Vidyawattie Matura (“the mother”) appeals from a final judgment dissolving her marriage to Andrew Griffith (“the father”). The only issue on appeal is the trial court’s decision to allow the father to have visitation with the parties’ two sons in Jamaica, a non-signatory to the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention “)…. 

Because of the obvious risk factors present, the court required the father to post a $50,000 bond for each child before each visit to discourage him from kidnapping the children and to ensure sufficient funds were available for the mother to retrieve the children if he did not return them. She appeals, arguing that the court’s decision to allow time­-sharing in Jamaica was not in the children’ s best interests and was not based on competent, substantial evidence. We reverse as to the challenged portion of the final judgment…Additionally, although the trial court’s concern about abduction by the father is well supported by the evidence, its decision to address that concern through a monetary bond is not. Given the fact that Jamaica is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, there is no evidence suggesting that the mother would be able to gain return of the children from Jamaica through legal processes, no matter how much money was available to her from a bond. See Jacqueline D. Golub, The International Parental Kidnap­ping Crime Act of 1993: The United States’ Attempt to Get Our Children Back-Howls It Working ?, 24 Brook. J. Int’l L. 797 (1999) (“While the Hague Convention has been successful in facilitating the return of many abducted children, it is rendered useless when a child is taken to a country which is not a signatory to the Hague Convention.”). Nor would the evidence support a finding that the bond, standing alone, could deter a potential kidnapping given the father’s demonstrated disregard for the law and repeated threats to take the children from the mother. For these reasons, we reverse that portion of the final judgment authorizing transportation of the children to Jamaica for visitation with the father, and remand for further proceedings regarding visitation.

To speak with a child custody and visitation lawyer in Jupiter, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.