By Chris Kramer
A Brazilian federal judge has ruled that a New Jersey man can have more access to his son—in Brazil. David Goldman has been seeking increased child custody of his son, Sean, who lives in Brazil with his stepfather and other family. The Brazilian court has ruled that Goldman may see more of his son, including unsupervised visits every week from Monday morning through Saturday evening, as long as the visits take place in Brazil.
Patricia Apy, Goldman’s attorney, has predicted that Sean’s mother and stepfather will likely appeal the ruling. Until then, Apy says her client will take advantage of the judge’s decision and visit his son in Brazil.
Sean’s Brazilian family has already threatened to continue fighting the dispute, as high as the Brazilian Supreme Court, even though that body has ruled it does not have jurisdiction.
Recently, Sean’s stepfather hired a psychiatrist to interview Sean and determine his feelings on where he wanted to live. According to the court transcripts, Sean reported that he wished to stay in Brazil and not return to the United States to live with his father.
Sean, who is nine, reported he would "break down totally," if he is forced to return to New Jersey. The Brazilian Supreme Court has said that it has no say in who should have custody of Sean, a U.S. citizen.
The struggle to determine the child’s custody began in June, 2004, when his mother, Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro, left with Sean for a two week trip to visit her family in Brazil. Instead, she decided to divorce Goldman, remained in Brazil, and remarried. Sean’s mother died in Brazil in 2008 while giving birth to a daughter. Since that time, Sean has attended private school and lived with his stepfather and half-sister.
In March, Helvecio Ribeiro, acting as a spokesperson for the Brazilian relatives, said that Sean’s stepfather did not dispute the father’s child custody rights, but contended that other matters deserved consideration.
"The fact of the matter is that, in order to be a parent, you have to be more than a DNA donor," Ribeiro said. "Fatherhood is not about making home movies and taking pictures. It’s about sacrifice, it’s about providing support for your child, it’s about being there even when you are not there."
The Brazilian family contends that Goldman has failed to live up to his parental responsibilities, including a failure to pay "a dime of child support," and made allegations that they refuse to let him visit Sean, claims that they say are "untrue."
Goldman’s response to these points: Can you take someone’s child to another country and then expect that parent to support the abduction [with child support payments]?
Goldman continues to fight to have his son repatriated, and he contends that his ex-wife’s actions amounted to an "abduction" of their son.