New Jersey father gets custody of son in Brazil

Read how a New Jersey father wins custody of his son after a court battle in Brazil and what happens as they are reunited.

By Jeffrey Cottrill
Updated: July 18, 2014
divorce news

TINTON FALLS, NJ -- An American man has won child custody of his eight-year-old son, who has lived with a stepfather in Brazil since 2004.

A Brazilian federal court ruled on June 1 that Sean Goldman must return to New Jersey to be with his father, David Goldman, by June 3. The boy's mother divorced the elder Goldman in 2004 and took Sean with her to live in Brazil, where she remarried. She died in 2008 of complications in childbirth.

"The court has made remarkable conditions to be able to facilitate [Sean's immediate return]," Patricia Apy, Goldman's family law attorney, told The Associated Press. Apy learned of the decision on the same day and expects to receive an English translation of it soon.

But Sergio Tostes, a family lawyer for the mother's family in Brazil, plans to appeal the ruling. "Many times, the boy has expressed his desire to stay in Brazil. We are doing everything we can to see justice prevail," he told Brazil's Globo TV.

In February, David Goldman met his son for the first time since 2004. Christopher Smith, a Republican state representative, lobbied for Goldman's case and traveled to Brazil with him. Weeks later,  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton intervened as well: she made a request, along with the U.S. House and Senate, to permit the boy's return.

"It's taken a long time for this day to come," Clinton said at a news conference in San Salvador, El Salvador after the verdict, "but we will work with the Goldman family and the Brazilian government with the goal of ensuring this young boy's return."

Clinton added that the Goldman case is far from unique: she claimed that there were almost 50 American children in Brazil, and many more in other countries, in similar predicaments.

David Goldman arrived in Brazil on June 2 to reclaim Sean.

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