Sean Goldman case highlights rising international child abduction
The Sean Goldman case, which resolved Tuesday when a Brazil judge ordered the boy to be returned to his American dad, is one of a sharply rising number of international child abduction cases in the US.
The Brazil abduction and custody case over 9-year-old Sean Goldman spotlights the growing problem of international child abduction, say specialists in international divorce and custody, one that needs to be addressed with more laws and greater parent precautions.Skip to next paragraph
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The number of case of children being abducted from the US and taken abroad has increased dramatically since 2007, according to the latest data available from the US State Department’s Compliance Reports on the Hague Convention on international child abduction. More than 1,000 new cases involving 1,615 children abducted from the US by a parent were reported in FY 2008, compared with a little over 500 cases involving 821 children in FY 2007.
Abductions from other countries also rose, with almost 500 children reported abducted from foreign countries and brought to the US last year. Divorce lawyers in cities such as New York and London are also noting an upswing in international clientele.
One reason “international child abductions are on the rise is that it is fairly easy to accomplish in the United States,” says Chris Schmidt of the US law firm of Bryan Cave LLP. “In the United States, one parent can leave the country with a child without the consent of the other parent.” By contrast, many other countries such as China and Argentina require an official document giving permission of the parent who is not traveling before minor children can travel abroad with only one parent.
“While exit controls would not have prevented the Brazilian abduction case [of Sean Goldman] as the mother tricked the father into believing she was going back to Brazil for a short vacation, exit controls would be very effective in preventing many other cases,” Mr. Schmidt says.
Sean Goldman’s case
In the case of Sean Goldman, Brazil’s chief justice on Tuesday ended a five-year custody battle when he ruled that the boy should be returned to his American father. On Wednesday, a Brazil federal court said that Sean should be returned by Thursday morning.
Sean was taken to Brazil by his mother in 2004, and remained with his stepfather after his mother died. His New Jersey father, David Goldman, had filed an abduction and custody case in US and Brazil courts, alleging that the mother had tricked him into taking his son away.
According to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions, an international child abduction occurs when one parent wrongfully removes a child to a foreign country or retains the child in a foreign country and refuses to permit the child to return to his habitual residence.