A Modern Miracle: David and Sean Goldman

Hi there,

I have been reading the David Goldman saga for some months now.  As a story, it highlights the problems of international custody cases when one parent takes the children to a foreign country and will not return them.  These cases are very difficult, even if the country in question has signed the Hague convention.  You need an American divorce attorney who understands the convention, contacts at the US State Department; an attorney in the foreign country who does family law and understands the Hague convention and has contacts in the foreign State Department.  It is hellishly expensive.  Furthermore, if the country in question hasn’t signed the Hague convention (like most of the Muslim countries) then the result can be tragic.

If you don’t know the Goldman story, in 2004 David’s then wife took their 4 year old American born son to Brazil for what she told David was a 2 week vacation. Once there she ended the marriage, remarried a Brazilian lawyer and then died in childbirth in 2008.

David Goldman has been fighting to be reunited with his son for 5 years and the reunion happened on Christmas Eve.

It should have occurred much, much earlier. There were no allegations of violence or any untoward behavior on David’s part.  Jurisdiction for the divorce and thus for the custody, parenting battle should have been in the New Jersey Courts.

There is an international treaty, The Hague Convention which governs the rights of parents and children in international custody cases in those countries which are signatories to the treaty.

Brazil became a signatory in 2003. But there can be a real disconnect between what should happen legally and what does happen, and that disconnect is always greater in international cases.  Here, Brazil has not been compliant with the terms of the Hague convention. According to the State Department before Sean’s return to his father there were 66 American born children in Brazil in defiance of the terms of the treaty.

The political pressure which David Goldman’s supporters were able to bring to bear on the Brazilian system is a tribute to the fundamental decency of a lot of people AND the fact that Brazil was vulnerable to the non passage of a treaty which provided billions to them in economic benefits.

I can only wonder what will happen to those 65 other children, now that the treaty is passed?

Lets hope the Brazilian government means what it has said.