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Mother at center of international custody battle pleading for more time with sons

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    Tampa (WFTS) — A Tampa mother is at the center of an international, bitter custody battle.

After six years of living in Florida, Christy Bailey believes her boys belong in Tampa Bay.

“They’re A-students, they play competitive football, so they’re in sports, they have friends here,” said Christy Bailey.

Bailey has twice taken her twin sons, aged 11, out of their home country of Panama, ignoring court orders. Bailey says she fled the country to escape their abusive, absentee father.

“I would assume that any mom would do what I’ve done,” said Bailey. “Relocating my children and myself to the United States so that my kids can have a healthy and stable life.”

A federal judge ruled in 2016 that Bailey’s actions were wrong but allowed her to keep them in Florida because they were settled. An appeals court last year reversed that decision, now ordering the twin boys to once again return to their home country.

Bailey’s attorney, Ashley Taylor, will argue in federal court Wednesday to allow the boys to stay in Tampa to finish the school year.

Taylor says Bailey will then take her fight to court in Panama, fighting for sole custody.

“It was tragic that this is what she was going through and so I wanted to do everything that I could for her to try to ensure that she stayed here in the United States and that her boys stayed here in the United States,” said Taylor.

Bailey hopes that she will obtain sole custody in Panama and one day return to the United States with her boys one last time.

“Everything that I’ve done has been for them to ensure their well-being,” said Bailey.

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