Christopher Camacho doesn’t know how soon he will get to see 10-year-old Isabella and 6-year-old Elena, but he can now rest a little easier knowing that a trial judge in San José, Costa Rica, ruled in his favor this week.
“I’m happy,” Camacho said on Thursday. “I’m looking forward to the day I can actually get my girls back here and have them back home.”
According to Michael Manely, Camacho’s attorney, Judge Yerma Campos Calvo found that Lucrecia Ramirez Camacho had acted unilaterally in taking the couple’s daughters to her native country, that there was no evidence to support Lucrecia’s claim of family violence and that Georgia was the girls’ habitual residence.
Under Costa Rican law, Lucrecia Camacho has three days to appeal the decision to the country’s highest family court, the Tribunal de Familia, which would then issue an opinion in either the following two weeks or few months, Manely said.
However, the international family law attorney said he is confident that such an appeal would be rejected. He also said it would be unlikely that Lucrecia Camacho would attempt to run away with the girls, considering that authorities in both Costa Rica and the United States have ordered the girls to be returned home.
“It’s all but completely done that we have the girls back,” Manely said.
The case had been argued before Calvo in April, but the judge unexpectedly waited several weeks until issuing her decision. Manely said his best guess is that she may have wanted to wait until Isabella and Elena had finished school in Costa Rica this week.
In June 2011, Lucrecia Camacho took the girls on what was supposed to have been a summer vacation to Costa Rica. She later informed her husband in a phone conversation that she did not intend to return to Austell, according to Cobb Superior Court documents.
Last December, Judge George Kreeger granted temporary custody of the girls to Christopher Camacho.
It’s unclear whether Christopher will have to fly to Costa Rica to get the girls or if his estranged wife will be willing to return to Georgia with them. Divorce proceedings were temporarily placed on hold to allow Lucrecia Camacho’s input in the matter if she were to return to Georgia, Manely said.
Christopher Camacho said he last spoke to his daughters briefly on Monday and before that on Father’s Day, after a weeklong lobbying effort with their mother. He said he’s not sure what he will say to them when he sees them again at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“It’s good to hear their voice and hear what they did for the day and what they did in school,” he said. “My eldest is going to art class, so she’s very excited about the pictures she’s painting. My youngest is happy about anything. It doesn’t matter if she saw a bug outside or something on TV, she’s excited about everything.”
A benefit to raise money for Christopher Camacho’s legal fees will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at AMF Marietta Lanes at 565 Cobb Parkway SE in Marietta. Admission is $10 per person.