PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - We have an update on a story we first brought you three years ago involving an international custody battle over a Pender County boy.
Surf City resident Don Seagraves says his estranged wife, Ivonne, took their 4-year-old son, Urijah, to her home country of Guatemala in 2012. A judge had given her permission to take him there temporarily for four months, but she never returned.
For the last four years, Seagraves has been searching for his son. No easy task when his only lead was Urijah and his mother were somewhere in Guatemala.
Wilmington attorney Mark Williams took Seagraves' case pro bono, and filed a Hague petition asking for Guatemala's help locating the child. Williams said the Pender County Sheriff's Office also issued an arrest warrant for Ivonne Seagraves for felony parental kidnapping.
Now, years later, there's finally been a break. Urijah, now 7 years old, was located in Guatemala within the last 2 weeks. But the battle to bring him back to the United States is not over yet.
Williams says the State Department has arranged for a hearing in Guatemala to return Urijah to the United States, which will hopefully be scheduled in the next 6 weeks.
Williams says they have established a 501(c), The Missing Children's' Defense Fund, to help with the considerable expenses Seagraves will still face to bring his son back home.
They are hoping to hire an attorney in Guatemala to represent Seagraves at the hearing. They also will need to pay the international travel expenses for Donald and Urijah, as well as pay for all the legal documents necessary to bring the child back to the United States.
Seagraves' supporters have established a GoFundMe page, and are also planning a golf tournament in October to raise money for this cause. Details of the tournament are still being finalized.