In June I wrote about a case working its way through the Brazil courts in which an American father (David Goldman) seeks to regain custody of his son, Sean. The boy has been living with Goldman’s wife’s family in Brazil for over five years. Goldman’s wife had taken the child to Brazil in 2004 when the boy was four. She later died. Goldman sought return of the child, but the wife’s family objected.
There’s a new decision by an intermediate appellate court affirming Goldman’s right to custody of the child. While Goldman’s right to custody may seem fairly clear, the case has taken a long time to work its way through the Brazilian court and it isn’t done yet.. As this story recounts, it’s possible that the child will not be returned to the US any time soon while further appeals are taken. And so more time passes.
Time is precisely what makes this case difficult. It seems probable that the more time passes, the harder it will be for the child to leave Brazil and return to his father in New Jersey. Without casting any doubt on Goldman’s capacity as a parent and through no fault of his own, Goldman has seen his Sean extremely infrequently over the past five years. He has not seen him at all since June.
I would imagine that the child, now 10, has a fairly settled routine in Brazil. To take him away from all that he knows in order to rejoin his father will be difficult for him. At the same time, one cannot allow the simple passage of time consumed by court proceedings to determine the outcome of the case. That simply rewards the party who drags on appeals endlessly.
I’m sure it would be best if the law were swift and sure and just in all cases. But it is not, and that does make for hard cases.