Baltimore Co. Paramedic Fighting International Custody Battle
Stan Hunkovic is trying to get his children back from his former wife, who took them with her to her native Trinidad more than two years ago.
Stan Hunkovic felt he had the perfect life three years ago.
The Baltimore County Fire Department paramedic had a job he loved, but more importantly, he had a family he loved even more. Hunkovic said his whole world revolved around his wife, Leah, and his children, Gabriel and Anastasia.
But, that ideal world came crumbling apart on Feb. 26, 2010 when Leah, in the middle of filing for divorce, secretly boarded a plane and took their children with her to her native Trinidad.
Since then, Hunkovic has battled an extensive—and expensive—battle to get his kids back.
"She was just not in the right frame of mind," Hunkovic told Patch. "I don’t know why she would just take our kids away. If she didn’t want to be married, fine. But why would you do this to our children?"
An Expensive Fight
Hunkovic, who has spent more than 20 years with the Baltimore County Fire Department, said he has burned through his savings and retirement along with credit cards waging this international fight.
Hunkovic has accrued more than $100,000 in legal bills over the last two years with just periodic phone calls and seven trips to Trinidad to show for it. He has even testified on Capitol Hill in support of parents whose children have been the victims of international kidnappings.
"I'm supposed to be able to talk to them, but there is often nothing but screaming on the other end," Hunkovic said. "I just want my children to know that I love them."
A Glimmer of Hope
Hunkovic received a measure of good news May 9 when Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Michael Finifter filed a contempt order for Leah Hunkovic, ruling that she will be fined $1,000 a day if she does not return Gabriel, 4, and Anastasia, 2, by June 1.
Jamie Maxwell, Stan Hunkovic’s attorney, stated in a news release that Trinidad should honor and follow the convention it signed for honoring court decisions from other countries, given that his children were born in Baltimore and are U.S. citizens.
But, so far, judges in that country have left them as "wards of the state" in Trinidad while deciding what course of action to take next, Maxwell said.
Offering to Help
One of its members, Marcy Sortino, has known Hunkovic for years and recently reconnected with him through Facebook after hearing about his struggles.
"I can't imagine losing your kids like he has," Sortino said. "When I heard what happened, I had to try and help him."
Family and friends have also organized a bull roast, set for 6-11 p.m. Friday, May 18 at the American Legion Hall in Parkville.
"No one can imagine losing a child or grandchild let alone another family member," friend Graceann Rehbein said. "This situation puts things into perspective as innocent children are being used against each parent through an international battle."
"Stan has a great heart and is a very caring person despite all the drama he has endured, he has remained in a positive status with everyone. We love him dearly."
Tickets for Friday’s bull roast are $35 per person or $315 for a table of 10. For questions about the event or how your can make a donation, please email BringHomeHunksKids@gmail.com or call Peggy Smith at 443-910-0904.