One would have hoped that Sean Goldman’s return to the United States with father David Goldman would have been the end of this years-long international saga.  Sadly, however, that may not be the case.  News reports yesterday indicated that 9-year old Sean’s Brazilian family will fight to regain “custody” of Sean, which is interesting since the family’s actions and that of the boy’s now deceased ex-wife really constituted an international abduction, thus leading to the boy’s ultimate Court-Ordered return.

After the family previously indicated that the fight was over, lawyers for the family will push to have the Brazilian court hear the boy’s wishes after all – indicating as much on the same day that the boy returned home to Tinton Falls, New Jersey, claiming that it was “our home” when seeing the house where he will live once again.  Since the Supreme Court in Brazil does not convene until February, it would not be able to hear the family’s arguments before then.

How the Brazilian family’s ongoing legal actions will impact their likely future claim for visitation is unclear, as even their decision to publicly parade Sean through the streets in Brazil on the way to the United States consulate on Christmas Eve has been roundly criticized and, according to David Goldman, was a traumatic experience for Sean.  The family, however, has substantial financial resources and will likely fight this losing battle, seemingly at the wishes of Sean’s maternal grandmother, until there is no avenue untapped.  For an additional prior blog post on this topic regarding Sean’s return, click here as well.  Stay tuned for further details.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We have previously blogged on grandparent visitation on several occasions.  Grandparent visitation is difficult to obtain in New Jersey following the US Supreme Court’s decision in Troxel v. Granville and the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Moriarty v. Bradt and the cases that followed it.  Given the constitutional protections of the rights of a parent to parent their child(ren) free from interference from third parties, grandparents now must prove actual harm to the child if they do not receive visitation.  While on one hand, the death of a parent (as was the case in Moriarty) would be a factor in the grandmother’s visitation request here on one hand, the abduction and the history in this case may mitigate that factor.  Moreover, one wonders whether, despite the harm that may be able to be proved in this case, given the circumstances surrounding the child’s alleged bond with the grandmother and step father, that visiitation with these people who were allegedly part of the ordeal that kept father and son apart for several years, would overcome the harm.  ERIC S. SOLOTOFF

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