Perhaps one of the most complicated repercussions of a failed marriage is the dispute over the custody of the children. Such disputes often end up in the hands of the court and the decisions handed down are designed to solve these conflicts. However, when a parent, acting in the best interest of their child, chooses to or unknowingly violates such orders the legal ramifications can be swift, and San Pedro American Ex-Pat Tamara “Tammy” Peterson learned this when Belizean police officials, acting in tandem with the USA, attempted to extradite her from Belize for allegedly violating custody court orders.
Peterson’s case stems from a custody battle between Peterson and her two estranged husbands. According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Castle Rock, Colorado, Peterson does not have sole custody of either of her three children. There are three separate warrants that have been issued to her and include:
#1 Warrant: Violation of Custody (in relation to one child) issued February 2007.
#2 Warrant: Contempt of Court – Issued August 2007.
#3 Warrant – Issued April 2008 – has three separate counts: (in relation to two other children)
#1 count-Violation of Custody
#2 count-Violation of Custody
#3 count-Conspiracy to commit Violation of Custody
***Warrant #3 states “International Extradition” “No Bond Hold”.
However, Peterson stated to The San Pedro Sun that in regards to her daughter, Faith, she does have sole custody and was granted permission by the Colorado Courts to leave the US and bring her daughter to Belize to live permanently. Mother and daughter arrived on the island on August 22nd, 2006.
Peterson agrees that although she is not the sole custodian of her two sons, Bryce and Chad, she does share Joint Custody with her ex-husband having Residential Custody. The couple’s agreement includes allowing the boys visitation rights to Belize during certain periods of the year.
Peterson claims that approximately two months ago, the relationship between the father and the boys deteriorated to the point that the youngest son was flung down a flight of stairs by his father and told to move with his mother. The boys were picked up by their grandparents, Susan and Daniel Spancers, who reside in Colorado. Because of this action, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has charged the Spancers with the same felony charges as their daughter. They have sought legal advice and retained an attorney.
After several attempts were made to contact the father of the boys by Peterson, Chad, Bryce and the Spancers, all calls proved futile, and it was decided that Bryce and Chad, as per their wishes, should move to Belize with their mother.
Mr. Peterson visited the Sheriff’s Office and alerted them of the boys’ whereabouts and that was when the third warrant was issued. On April 8th, 2008 Peterson was taken into custody and an arrangement was made between the two countries to have her extradited to the United States. Official documents were served to Belizean officials which stated “International Extradition” “No Bond Hold.” However, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office prominent Belizean citizens spoke on Peterson’s behalf and she was released from police custody.
The children, however, were taken into custody by the Belize Social Services and remained there pending an investigation. Their findings revealed that the home Peterson has been providing for her family was solid and stable and as such, Peterson states, the children were returned to her on April 16th, 2008.
However, the Sheriff’s Office states that the case is still under investigation on their side and the three warrants are still active. Detectives are still pursuing all avenues to secure the return of Peterson and the children to the USA. Peterson has sought legal advice and plans on fighting her case.
Since arriving in San Pedro Town, Peterson has been actively involved in the Clean Up San Pedro Campaign and aided the San Pedro Town Council in making the program happen. Currently, she is President of the North Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch and a member of the Neighborhood Watch Board.