A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has rejected a request that 9-year-old Sean Goldman be asked to choose whether he wants to stay in that country or return to Tinton Falls with his natural father, the Associated Press reports today.
The decision marks a victory, if only a partial one, in David Goldman’s years-long custody battle over his only child, who was whisked off to Brazil five years ago by Goldman’s then-wife.
Sean Goldman has not been back to the U.S. since then, and his father’s campaign to bring the boy home has become an international cause celebre, attracting the attention of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
The AP reports that Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes ruled against the habeas corpus petition filed by the boy’s Brazilian grandmother, Silvana Bianchi. She contends Sean wants to remain in Brazil.
According to the AP, David Goldman’s Red Bank-based attorney, Patricia Apy:
has been arguing for months that the boy is in a fragile state and that because of his age and maturity level he should not be asked where he wants to live.
She said a provision of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions that governs how nations should handle these international cases and allows children’s input, is aimed at teenagers.
“It’s not to deal with (a) 7-, 8-, 9-year-old child,” Apy said. “Children of that age are not in a position to say.”