Brazil Court Rules Sean Goldman Should Be Returned to US Father in 48 Hours

Goldman father and son The custody battle in Brazil over American Sean Goldman started in June 2004 may be getting to an end. The Federal Regional Court (TRF) of the 2nd Region, in Rio de Janeiro, decided this Wednesday, December 16, that Sean Goldman, 9, should be returned to his biological father, the American David Goldman, in 48 hours.

According to a spokesperson for the TRF, the lawyer for Goldman believes that the boy should return to the United States on Friday. This drama started when the boy's mother, Brazilian Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro, left her husband, David Goldman, for an alleged vacation of two weeks with her son, then 4, in Brazil.

They lived in the city of Titon Falls, in New Jersey. When Bruna arrived in Brazil she call the husband to tell him that the marriage was over and that she would not return to the US.

While she continued married to David in the United Sates, Bruna got a divorce in Brazil without the husband's consent and remarried in Brazil famous lawyer João Paulo Lins e Silva. She died, however, while giving birth to her child with Lins e Silva.

At the time of Bruna's death last year, David Goldman went to Brazil to bring his son back to the United States. Since then, he fights for custody of the boy in the Brazilian courts against the stepfather of Sean and his maternal grandparents.

In June, a judge from the 16th Federal Circuit had already determined the return of the boy to his biological father. Lins e Silva's attorney, Sergio Tostes, appealed though, at that time, to the TRF.

As determined by the Brazilian Justice, Sean should be taken to the U.S. consulate in 48 hours, starting Wednesday afternoon. David Goldman is expected tomorrow in Rio to be reunited with his son.

In the meantime, Brazil's Supreme Court (STF) is reviewing a preventive habeas corpus filed by Sean's grandmother, Silvana Bianchi, who is asking for an injunction to prevent the boy's departure from Brazil without him being heard directly by the first instance judge. 

According to the STF, she wants the court to hear the boy's testimony so he will be able to say if he really wishes to leave the country with his biological father or would rather stay in Brazil with his Brazilian family, the step-father, maternal grandparents and little sister.

The grandmother contends that the Federal Court in Rio decided to send the boy to the United States without hearing the testimony of the child, "stopping him from expressing his opinion about his compulsory departure from the country, as provided for in Article 13 of the convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction" or the Hague Convention (Decree 3413/2000), Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Children (Decree 99.710/90) and section II of Article 16 of Brazil's Statute of Children and Adolescents.

The Supreme Court in previous rulings about the case determined that the final decision should be taken by the Rio de Janeiro justice. It also rejected another habeas corpus application filed on July 30.

If there is no new court maneuvers to change the Rio's ruling, Sean may return to the United States as early as Friday. Tostes, the stepfather's lawyer left the court Wednesday without giving interviews.

The Goldman case has gone all the way up to the highest diplomatic level. American president Barack Obama mentioned the matter in a meeting, last March, in Washington with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

This Wednesday night Minister Marco Aurélio Mello, from Brazil's Supreme Court, informed that he will decide within 48 hours if Sean Goldman stays or not in Brazil.

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