Betty* suffered health problems and financial difficulties after her marriage broke up, and she agreed that her husband Fred* could look after their four-year-old daughter Bella* for six months until she recovered. Fred did not return Bella to Betty in accordance with the agreement. Fred’s position was that Betty had abandoned Bella and that Bella was now settled in her new home with Fred and his new partner. Despite many attempts to spend time with and communicate with her daughter, Fred denied requests and became increasingly obstructive.
For the next two years, Betty asked for assistance from various other legal organisations that were unable to assist. Over this period, Fred would continually agree to allow Bella to spend time with her mother and Betty would travel eight hours only to be refused the arranged time by Fred. This caused Betty great distress and financial hardship as she has a number of other small children and only received government assistance. When
Betty consulted North Queensland Women’s Legal Service (NQWLS), she had not spent time with Bella for over two years and Fred had now moved with Bella to a location which he would disclose. Betty attempted mediation, but Fred also refused to participate in that process.
Betty was determined that she would not give up and knew that it was in the best interests of her daughter for Bella to have a meaningful relationship with her.
NQWLS assisted Betty with negotiations with Fred’s solicitor, which were unsuccessful. Given the length of time that Bella had been denied time with her mother and the detrimental impact that this would have on the parent-child relationship, NQWLS drafted an Initiating application seeking parenting orders in the Federal Circuit Court. NQWLS also assisted Betty in her communications with the Independent Children’s Lawyer, Family Report Writer and her Federal Circuit Court Appearances.
After three mentions in the Federal Circuit Court, the making of two interim Court Orders, an appointment of an Independent Children’s Lawyer and a Family Report, Betty was successful in obtaining significant time and communication with Bella.
*Not her real name