Fly with the Phoenix

Dancing the child custody samba
December 28, 2009, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Family Transitions | Tags: , ,

The custody nightmare involving the Brazilian justice system and New Jersey dad David Goldman is over and he has his 9-year-old son, Sean. The details are plastered all over network news, so I’ll spare you from reading them again.

Upon hearing the verdict from the Brazilian Supreme Court justice, however, I couldn’t help but think if this will do anything to further the thousands of cases across our country involving parents being kept from their kids. I must sadly say I doubt it. It’ll probably be a Movie of the Week in a year or two and that’ll be it. We should pray for these families torn apart by the legal system and family courts. The child will have a long road ahead of him. The cute news clips of him playing with his daddy may or may not translate how he feels about him today or tomorrow. He’s leaving a family and country that’s been a part of his life for five years–more than half his time on the earth. Hopefully, Mr. Goldman will seek and find the appropriate counseling for the child, and I sincerely hope all will be well for them. I also hope Mr. Goldman, when things settle down, will allow his son contact with Brazilian family, because those connections shouldn’t die with the close of the custody mess.

What other parents can gain from this highly publicized case? It’s likely they will not have presidents and Congressmen fighting in their corner. Can you imagine the legal bills both sides have racked up over the years? I offer a few thoughts to suggest what the rest of us may learn from this.

  • Perseverance paid off. Taking the legal fighting out of the picture, this father believed he had a right to have his child live with him and he stuck to the plan. For those who do not have the emotional or financial resources to battle custody in court, you can persevere by maintaining contact with your child, trying to negotiate whenever possible with the other parent, and keep the “prize”–time with your child–in your mind’s eye. Don’t lose hope. What you see now isn’t always what you’re going to get for the future.
  • Tell your story. The tipping point for this case was the news media getting ahold of it. You never know who may be watching and coming forward to help you. Maybe it’ll be an attorney who wants to gain a few headlines by helping you with the case (or maybe they want to do a good deed…hey, it can happen). Others in similar situations may come forward and you could use their support or ideas. If you contact your local media, understand that your story has to have a legitimate “news hook” or the dogs won’t sniff. In the Goldman case, the hook was the international web in which this kid was caught. Reporters won’t touch, “My ex-wife is such a b—h! She doesn’t let me have visitation because (fill in the blank)” with a 10-foot-pole. They may, however, talk to you if you can bring light to a wider problem with the court system or suggest a societal trend.
  • Find yourself an ally or two. With thousands of Internet resources, support groups and books available, you’re sure to find someone who understands what you’re going through and can offer you advice. Sometimes, litigation is the only remaining choice, but do try and exhaust every other avenue before finding an attorney. Divorce coaches, mediators, therapists: all professionals who can provide you with guidance, but understand in the end, the final decision as to how you move forward is yours–and only yours.
  • Above all else, take care of yourself during the journey because you are important and deserve to be healthy and at peace. Remember your spouse, other kids, friends, job and other responsibilities also need you. Do what you can when a custody issue crops up, but then hand the rest to God. We weren’t made to handle life on our own, plus some of this simply isn’t our responsibility to fix.

Be at peace, and God bless you.


1 Comment so far
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Thanks to the author for an excellent article and great suggestions. Sadly, the Goldman case is just the tip of the ice berg of a much larger problem known as parental alienation. While parental abduction is the worst form of alienation and will result in the ocassional headline, there are countless parents, children and extended family members torn apart by parental alienation every year.

Keep up the good work in bringing attention to topics that will help parents and children.


mike jeffries
Author, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation

Comment by mike jeffires

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