Sean Goldman (l.), 8, has been living in Brazil since his mother moved him there in 2004. His New Jersey father has been fighting for custody of the boy for several years.
A federal appeals court in Rio de Janeiro has ruled that a 9-year-old boy living in Brazil should be returned to his father in New Jersey, but the 3-0 unanimous ruling still may not lead to the boy's quick return.
David Goldman's struggle to gain custody of his son, Sean, has gotten the attention of President Obama, Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But even with political support and several court victories, Goldman has not been able to bring his son back.
The saga began in 2004, when David Goldman's wife, Bruna Bianchi, took then-4-year-old Sean to her native Brazil. Goldman says it was to be a two-week vacation.
But she stayed and so did the boy. She eventually divorced Goldman and remarried a Brazilian man. Last year, she died giving birth to a daughter. Her family has sought to keep Sean with them in Brazil.
David Goldman, a former model who now has a fishing charter business, had been seeking his son's return under an international treaty that covers cross-border child abductions.
The case has been discussed this year by top level diplomats in Brasilia and Washington, and has been the subject of Congressional hearings in the U.S. and protests in both countries.
Both Goldman and members of his wife's family, including her second husband, have appeared on television talk shows to make their case. The boy has dual citizenship and his maternal grandmother said Sean wanted to stay in Rio de Janeiro.
The biggest legal development came June 1, when a judge on the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that Sean should be returned to his father. The return was halted by a slew of appeals, all but one of which have been settled. Today's federal appeals court ruling weighs in on the Supreme Court decision
Goldman and his son met in February for the first time since the child was taken to Brazil, but they have not seen each other since June. The mother's family had security guards and heavy surveillance during the meetings between father and son.