Ruling on U.S. Boy's Fate Looms in Brazil

Brazil's Supreme Court chief justice is expected to rule Tuesday on an appeal that a U.S. father hopes will reunite him with his young son after a five-year custody battle.

A Supreme Court official said Tuesday afternoon that the decision by Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes would be issued before the end of the day. It originally was set for release Monday, but was delayed for unexplained reasons. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss the case.

David Goldman, a New Jersey man who has pledged to fight for his 9-year-old son, Sean, as long as it takes, was still holding out hope of being reunited in time to celebrate the holidays with his son in the United States.

Mendes will rule on appeals made by Goldman and Brazil's attorney general seeking to lift a stay on a lower court's order that Sean be handed over to his father.

If Mendes lifts the stay, a lawyer for the Brazilian family said the family would continue its legal battle to keep the boy in Brazil.

When the ruling is issued, "we will read it carefully and consider the legal remedies available, if needed," Sergio Tostes said in an e-mailed statement. "All necessary action will be taken."

Despite international law stating custody decisions should be made by the country where the child is born, Sean's stepfather has continually vowed to fight any ruling forcing him to relinquish his stepson, reported CBS News' Manuel Gallegus on The Early Show.

"David has a legal determination of custody under an international treaty that Brazil and the United States both signed and this man's rights or wishes or desires to be the parent to the child should not be supreme to David's right," international custody expert Patrick Braden told Gallegus.

The family could take the case to Brazil's top appeals court, but some have doubted whether that court would be willing to review the case if the Supreme Court backs a lower federal court ruling awarding custody to Goldman.

Tostes previously told the AP he would like to see a negotiated settlement, saying he wanted to end the damage being done to Sean and to U.S.-Brazil relations.

But Goldman said that as the child's only surviving parent he wasn't interested in shared custody.

New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, in Brazil to support Goldman, expressed optimism Monday that the case would be resolved in the U.S. man's favor.

"I think it is only a matter of 'when' and not 'if,' and we are hoping that the abductors will convey this young boy ... as soon as the chief justice renders his decision," the Republican congressman said.

Goldman, 42, launched his case in U.S. and Brazilian courts after Sean was brought by his mother in 2004 to her native Brazil, where she then divorced Goldman and remarried. She died last year in childbirth, and the boy has lived with his stepfather since.

The lawyer for the boy's Brazilian family offered to negotiate a settlement, and the family also invited Goldman to spend Christmas with them. Goldman has not said whether he would accept the invitation if the case was not resolved this week.

The case has affected diplomatic ties between Brazil and the U.S., reaching talks between President Barack Obama and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Democratic New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg has blocked the renewal of a $2.75 billion trade deal that would lift tariffs on some Brazilian exports.

The U.S. State Department pressed for the boy to be returned. But a Brazilian Supreme Court justice last week stayed a lower court decision ordering Sean to be turned over to his father.

Goldman and Brazil's attorney general both filed appeals asking the Supreme Court to overturn the justice's decision to block Sean's return while the court considers hearing direct testimony from the boy.