Brazil Justice Orders Boy Returned to Father in US. Stepfather Appeals

Sean Goldman Sean Goldman, 9, the US-born boy whose Brazilian mother took him to live in Brazil at age 4, against the American father's wishes is to be returned to his father immediately according to a judicial decision by a Rio de Janeiro Federal Court.

The dispute had continued between Sean's father, David Goldman and his stepfather, renowned jurist João Paulo Lins e Silva,  even after the boy's mother died in Brazil, last year, from childbirth complications.    

The decision was taken by judge Rafael Pereira Pinto, from the 16th Federal Court of the Rio de Janeiro. In his ruling, Pereira Pinto ordered the boy's "immediate return" to the United States.

The judge also determined that Sean be taken to Karen Andrade, an official at the American Consulate in Rio by Wednesday, June 3, and that in the meantime Federal Police agents should monitor all the movements of the nine-year-old.

The Brazilian judge explained that he had used the Hague Convention to base his decision. The Hague Convention determines that, when a child is taken to another country without the father's or the mother's authorization he should be immediately returned to the country where he was living, so that that nation's court decide who keeps the minor.

The lawyer for the Brazilian family, Sérgio Tostes, has already filed an injunction at Rio's Federal Court trying to prevent the boy from leaving Brazil. The motion presented Monday night should be considered today, June 2, by the Brazilian Justice.

His reaction after the judge's order: "The ruling presents a violence never seen in the history of the Brazilian justice history. There is a subordination to foreign interests."

Tostes complained that the judge refused to grant Sean his own wish. He told reporters that the boy during the psychological evaluation made by Justice experts stated seven times that he wanted to stay in Brazil. 

On the other hand, lawyers for Goldman argue that to keep the boy in Brazil would be a violation of an international convention because it would deny the biological father his own son's guardianship.

Sean Goldman was born in the state of New Jersey, but he has been living in Rio since he was 4. Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro, the mother, left the US for what David Goldman thought it would be a short vacation.

Bruna, however, stayed in Rio  with Sean and never went back to the United States. Later, she divorced David and married João Paulo Lins e Silva. Lins e Silva, who belongs to a rich and powerful family in Brazil, has argued that taking Sean from Brazil would be an experience too traumatic for the boy.

Talking to the Jornal Nacional, Brazil's most popular news show, Luca Bianchi, Sean's uncle, said, "I am desperate. My family is desperate. We are looking for someone who can help us in this situation that is so hard and also so dishonorable."

The dispute for Sean has mobilized high officials from the American government, including secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the US ambassador in Brazil, Clifford Sobel. The subject was even brought up by president Barack Obama during a meeting he had in Washington with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

According to the Brazilian justice's decision, Sean will go through a 15-day transition period in the United States. During this time the child will spend the day with the father and, at night, will sleep with the Brazilian family.

Starting on the 16th day, Sean will also sleep with the father, but will receive 4-hour-long daily visits from his Brazilian family. The maternal grandmother and the stepfather are expected to request the American Justice to grant them the guardianship of Sean. The Brazilian family will be able to continue visiting the boy until a final decision by the US court.

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