Sean Goldman’s Brazilian grandmother can ask a court to determine whether she should be awarded visitation rights with the boy, a state Appellate Court panel ruled Wednesday.
But the three-judge panel would not go so far as to allow interim visitation by the grandmother, Silvana Bianchi, while the case is continuing,
Bianchi, the panel ruled, “has demonstrated sufficient reason to require” a court hearing on the matter.
Bianchi’s late daughter, Bruna, took Sean from the United States to her native Brazil in 2004, after which she cut all ties with her husband, David Goldman, divorced him and married a prominent attorney there.
Bruna Bianchi died in 2008 from complications from childbirth, after which her second husband began the process to adopt Sean.
David Goldman fought to get his son back, even going so far as the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The two were finally reunited in 2009, after the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that Sean should be given back to his father.
David Goldman has since refused visitation for Silvana Bianchi unless she agrees to several conditions, including ending all litigation in Brazil seeking Sean’s return. Silvana Bianchi’s husband died several years ago.
A motion seeking visitation with the Tinton Falls boy filed by the grandmother was dismissed by a lower court in February 2011. She and her late husband were also assessed more than $89,000 in legal fees.
The three-judge appellate panel also reversed the lower court’s decision on the fees in Wednesday’s decision.
The judges stated that the lower court jurist, Judge Michael Guadagno, erred when he decided that Goldman’s conditions for visitation were reasonable.
“In his legal ruling, the motion judge failed to consider the proposed visitation in light of (Sean’s) best interests,” the judges wrote.
The judges noted that Sean had “unquestionably” formed a strong bond with his grandmother, and that his therapist reported that it is “extremely important for (Sean) to maintain his relationship with his grandparents in Brazil.”
“(Sean) has already lost the opportunity for further contact with his maternal grandfather,” the judges wrote. “We urge the parties to find a compromise so that (Sean) is not similarly deprived of contact with his maternal grandmother or subjected to the rigors of the litigation process.”