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Meeting in the middle gone wrong

Melissa* was having difficulties meeting an order issued by the Court about custody of her child. She was to drop off her kids at a location midway between where she lived and the father’s residence, where they spent two nights a week, before returning to their mother.

This may seem reasonable to people unaware of Melissa’s situation, but she had to travel some 300km each way to meet this order. She also had no car or driver’s licence, and would have to spend more than $400 per fortnight in travel expenses for herself and three children, and accommodation for herself while her kids were at their father’s.

The financial burden on Melissa was so great she had to rely on charitable organisations to ensure she did not breach these orders and could still feed and clothe herself and her children.

Melissa was unable to negotiate a change in location of changeover, frequency and cost, so the Aboriginal Family Legal Service Southern Queensland (AFLSSQ) were able to assist her.

They were successful in obtaining new Court orders that meant her children would spend one week per month with their father, and the changeover would occur at a location closer to Melissa (as the father had a vehicle and licence).

AFLSSQ were also able to ensure that the cost of the children’s travel was shared between the parents. Because of this, Melissa’s stress levels, financial and emotional burdens were reduced, and her children were happier (with less travelling around) as well.

*Not their real name

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