[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/12/17/goldman.brazil.custody/story.goldman.cnn.jpg caption="David Goldman has been locked in a legal battle over custody of his 9-year-old son, Sean." width=300 height=169]
There are few winners in the case of Sean Goldman, the 9-year old boy at the center of a custody battle between his American father and Brazilian stepfather. But the losers are easy to spot, starting with common sense. More worryingly for Brazil, a growing nation desperate to be taken seriously on the world stage, is the damage being done to its image.
One of the reasons foreign investment in Brazil has risen so significantly over the last few years is that Brazilian law is relatively solid. Unlike neighbors Venezuela or Bolivia, for example, foreign companies in Brazil do not fear that the goalposts will be moved in the middle of the game or that powerful interests will tear up agreements. Brazilian lawyers said Sean Goldman's stepfather, João Lins e Silva, has diligently followed due process in his attempt to retain custody of his late wife's son. (She died in childbirth earlier this year.) But there is still a sense that the already slow legal system is being swayed, in part, by money and influence. Sean's stepfather's family, the Lins e Silvas, is well known in Brazilian legal circles and they have so far used the system skillfully to retain custody of the child.
"The Brazilian family are respected lawyers and they understand the situation and they know what steps they can legitimately take within the system here," said a U.S. official familiar with the case. "But what we need to make clear is that the Government of Brazil is in agreement for his return [to his biological father]. We need to work through the legal system so the Brazilian government can enforce the return." Indeed, David Goldman had flown to Rio de Janeiro to pick up his son after a federal court in Brazil ruled he had legal custody of the boy, only to be greeted by news that a Supreme Court judge had decided to halt the procedure, declaring that the boy himself had to testify about where he preferred to live.
Filed under: Parenting
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