Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Year's Most Interesting Custody Cases Wind Up!

Sean Goldman has been returned to the United States, after many months, and many tens of thousands of dollars, of litigation by his father to get him back from Brazil. His Brazilian "step-father"* was able to delay the return to the United States seemingly required by the Hague Convention, and a last-minute review by the Brazilian Supreme Court threatened to delay the final order being carried out until well into 2010. Others, including some on my blogroll** have discussed both the unwillingness of the Brazilian authorities to meet their obligations under the Convention, and the media sideshow which followed the final order, at length.

The willingness or unwillingness of countries to "sign on" to the Hague Convention and, once on, to comply with its terms, does not seem to correlate in a clear way with the degree of "modernity" of the country and government in question; the Japanese legislature is still vigorously debating whether Japan will sign on at all, and some western European signers are notably uncooperative in returning children.

Rifqa Barry is in foster care in Ohio; the Ohio court is attempting to facilitate some kind of dialogue between her and her parents, while the clock ticks by to her 18th birthday, at which time the law says she's an adult, and can go live with whomever she pleases. Based on the facts as I know them, it seems far less likely that her father will hunt her down for an "honor killing" than that she's easily swayed and influenced by others generally, and may find others who are all too willing, for good or ill, to make decisions for her.

Parents: Cherish your children. Children: cherish your parents.

Have a happy, and maybe even more prosperous, new year.

*There now seems to be at least some question as to whether deceased Mom was divorced from Sean's father at the date she remarried, and thus the quotes.

** In particular, Family Law News Blog and

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