NYT: Court Battle Over a Child Strains Ties in Two Nations

And you thought the last four years of your life sucked.  Meet David Goldman:

  • June 2004: Ms. Bruna Goldman boards a plane with her son, Sean, for Brazil; Her husband, David, is going to catch a flight in a week.
  • Several days later, Mom calls Dad and says that she’s divorcing him (surprise!)… and that she’s keeping their son, Sean, in Brazil, Mom’s home country (double surprise!).
  • Dad sues in the US and Brazil for custody, Mom retains lawyer in Brazil.
  • Mom remarries her lawyer and is impregnated by him… but then dies in childbirth in 2008.
  • FOUR YEARS LATER, Sean is still in Brazil living with his stepfather. He attends a top school, has friends, and is well-adjusted. In those four years, Brazilian courts have only allowed Dad to see Sean once (a 12-hour supervised visit spanning two days).

family190So what’s best for Sean?! Which life is better for him?! Will it matter or will simply come down to the specifics of international law?!

While the article describes Brazil as Mom’s native country, it’s not stated whether Sean actually has any contact with his blood relatives.  Even so, Sean had probably never meet these relatives before his abduction – is it even relevant that they’re blood relatives if they hardly knew Sean at the time of his abduction?

If Sean is not in contact with his blood relatives, then all he has in Brazil are non-blood relatives like his step father.  It’s unclear when Mom remarried her lawyer but, given Sean’s age – between 4 and 8 years old – even a year or two with his stepfather may be plenty to form a substantive bond, although there is no guaranteed this happened.  If it did, however, is this bond to be discounted because it’s not through blood?

Furthermore, Dad hasn’t seen Sean – although not for lack of trying – for over 4 years (save that 12 hour supervised visitation)! How has their bond changed?! How intact is it still?! Dad says it’s still intact but that’s obviously not an objective opinion. If a four-year-old goes four years without seeing a father, how much of that bond still exists?

Hopefully the psychologist supervising the visit will have some insights for the courts, if they care.

This could only be more of a clusterfuck if the parents were gay.

Read the whole saga, with a discussion of the applicable law, here.

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