avid Goldman’s long-overdue reunion with his now-8-year-old son in Brazil Monday was followed by more good news for the Tinton Falls resident. A panel of judges Wednesday determined his custody battle will be heard in federal court in Brazil rather than a state court, a move Goldman sought because of the federal court’s familiarity with the Hague Convention provisions he is using to bolster his case.
A shift to the federal courts also should make the proceedings less subject to the influence of Sean’s Brazilian stepfather, a powerful lawyer who refused to return Sean to his father after Sean’s mother died suddenly in August. But Goldman’s battle is far from over.
The case, chronicled by Press columnist Bill Handleman, grabbed national headlines — and the attention of Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. — following a Jan. 30 “Dateline NBC” program on how Goldman’s wife took off for what he believed to be a two-week trip to visit family in Brazil in 2004, then told Goldman she and the boy weren’t returning. She remained in Brazil and remarried, but died in August eight hours after giving birth to a baby girl. Goldman has been fighting in the courts, here and in Brazil, to get his son back for more than four years. The intervention of Smith, whose district does not include Goldman’s home town, helped enable Monday’s reunion.
The case is strikingly similar to the 2000 Elian Gonzalez story, when Florida relatives of the Cuban boy fought to prevent him from being returned to his father. The boy’s mother died en route after fleeing Cuba by boat. In the end, U.S. officials allowed Elian to rejoin his father. Brazilian officials should do the same for Sean.
The Gonzalez case brought forth a flood of response from across the U.S. The Goldman case deserves to remain on the national stage until Goldman and his son are permanently reunited. Fellow New Jerseyans can donate to help offset legal fees or sign a petition through the Web site, www.bringseanhome.org.