Dad waiting it out for son in Brazil

December 19, 2009 6:02:11 PM PST
A U.S. man has filed appeals with the Brazilian Supreme Court to regain custody of his 9-year-old son following a five-year legal fight. Meanwhile, the Brazilian family members with whom David Goldman is locked in battle have invited him to join them and his son, Sean, for the holidays while the court decides whom it will favor, local news media reported Saturday.

Goldman - along with Brazil's attorney general - filed appeals late Friday asking the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by one of its judges blocking Sean's return while the court considers hearing direct testimony from the boy.

The case gained momentum this week when an appellate court ruled the boy should be reunited with his father. Goldman flew from New Jersey to Rio de Janeiro - only to be put off Thursday by the judge's decision.

The Supreme Court went into recess Friday and won't reconvene until Feb. 1, but urgent cases can be dealt with during this period. It was not clear when the court would consider Goldman's appeals.

For more than five years, Goldman has pressed his case in the United States and Brazil. Sean was taken by his mother in 2004 to her native Brazil, where she then divorced Goldman, remarried and ultimately died last year in childbirth.

The case has bearings on Brazil's ties to the U.S. and has been discussed between President Barack Obama and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Also, a U.S. senator, in reaction to the case, this week blocked the renewal of a trade deal that lifts tariffs on some Brazilian exports, which was worth $2.75 billion to the South American nation last year.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for the Brazilian stepfather of Sean offered a surprising invitation to Goldman: To spend Christmas night with the entire Brazilian family, including Sean.

"We're laying down our arms," the lawyer, Sergio Tostes, said in comments that appeared Saturday in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

Tostes said Sean approved of the invitation.

"He knows that his dad is in Brazil. He knows everything," he said. "As painful as it is, nothing is hidden from him."

Goldman had yet to say if he would accept the invitation. His attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

Goldman's legal team - and the U.S. State Department - argue that Sean should have long ago been returned to his father under the Hague Convention, which seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the courts in the country where the child originally lived - in this case, New Jersey.

Brazilian Attorney General Luis Inacio Adams filed his appeal to the Supreme Court asking that custody be given to Goldman on the basis of the Hague Convention.


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