How we helped a mother to keep her child safe

How we helped a mother to keep her child safe

Petra (not her real name) was scared and confused when she first met one of our duty lawyers in the Federal Circuit Court.

Not only did she not understand English, Petra faced the possibility of losing her child to an abusive former partner.

Woman and child holding hands

Parenting orders

After Petra and her former partner separated, final parenting orders had been made by consent that the child would live with Petra and spend time each fortnight with the father, as well as on the child’s birthday and Father’s Day. Changeovers were to happen at a local contact centre or police station.

The father alleged Petra had breached these orders and applied for new orders so that the child would live with him.

Uncovering Petra’s story of fear

Working alongside an interpreter, our lawyer began to peel away the layers of Petra’s story. A history of fear and intimidation unravelled. With the contact centre unable to facilitate the changeovers, the father had been making demands on Petra to bring the child to him at short notice at unpredictable times.

Petra was too scared to refuse. Her former partner had broken into her house, beaten her with a bar, taken the child, and threatened to kill Petra or have her deported.

After moving interstate the father turned up about a year later on Petra’s doorstep unannounced. He asked to take the child for a few hours and she was too frightened to refuse. He didn’t return but called Petra the following day to say the child would now live with him interstate.

Petra didn’t know who to turn to for help. The legal avenues were incomprehensible to her, she was scared, and members of her community were reluctant to get involved.

She convinced the father to return with the child under the guise of seeing him one last time and, with the help of friends and neighbours, managed to keep her child in Melbourne.

The outcome

Working with our lawyer helped Petra gain the strength she needed to overcome her fear and tell her story to the judge.

For the time being, and to Petra’s great relief, the original parenting orders have been suspended. Her child is now safe at home.

Mindful of the child’s mild intellectual disability and the allegations of violence against the father, the judge was happy to encourage an interim arrangement involving supervised time.

How we can help

We have information about how you may be able to get help with parenting arrangements and child contact.

You can also call us on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 5.15 pm, to find out how we can help you.