The May 13 edition of the Wall Street Journal featured an article concerning the internationalization of the home buying market. As our global economy shrinks our world people are buying homes in far off places as a matter of convenience and investment. Easy access to international residences, however, can have unintended consequences as a May 13th interview with Mr. David Goldman demonstrates.
David Goldman told his story to the public television and radio outlet for metro Philadelphia, WHYY. Goldman started out with a storybook life. While a student in Italy he met and fell in love with a student from Brazil. They married, moved to Southern New Jersey and began the perfect life together, blessed with a young son, Sean. David’s in-laws were part of a wealthy family in Brazil and were so taken with America and their grandchild that they bought a home in New Jersey near their daughter and her young family.
David’s charmed life could not endure, however, and in 2004 his wife packed up for a two week vacation in Brazil with their son and her mother. David drove them to the airport and his time in hell began. It turned out that his wife did not share her parents’ infatuation with America. She had nothing bad to say about David, but she told him she was not coming back and that if he fought her, he would never see Sean again.
David did fight. His wife, though, was true to her word and kept David away from his son for four years despite a set of international treaties called the Hague Convention of 1981. These laws were intended to prevent parental abduction of children to other countries, but David was unable to apply the international pressure needed to enforce these laws in Brazilian courts and he was unsuccessful in his attempts to see his son.
His wife divorced him in Brazil and, ironically, married a lawyer. She died in 2008 while giving birth to another child. Yet, David did not get his child back until a year after his ex-wife’s death and even today he has cases pending both in Brazil and New Jersey with his former in-laws and his former wife’s husband. The happy news is that Sean has lived with David since 2009.
The interview is worth the listen. It is a legal story told from a Father’s perspective. The take-away is simple: the world outside the United States and parts of Western Europe are very different than here. People with money and power run the systems of many countries without much concern for rule of law or due process. Mr. Goldman tells of going to hearings where in Brazil judges looked at him and told him that the fact that his child was abducted was irrelevant because the child had a new status quo. Ultimately, he did secure an order getting his child but more than a year after the Mother of the child died.
Possession is 9/10 of the law, especially in jurisdictions where old world values translate into an old buddy system. The international world is an exciting one, but for those with children it can be a harrowing one as well.
Whyy.org Fresh Air with Marty Moss-Cohane:
David Goldman’s book is called “A Father’s Love.” (Penguin).