With our help in the family law courts, a woman has her four children returned to her from her abusive ex-husband.
We first met Hanna at the family law courts, where she arrived distressed and seeking urgent assistance. Her former husband, Abdi, had forcibly removed her youngest child from her care the previous day and, early that morning, Victoria Police had removed her three other children from their beds as they screamed in terror. Her ex-husband had convinced police to issue a Family Violence Safety Notice against her, based on his assertion that Hanna had mental health issues and was a risk to the children. In addition, all four children’s passports had been taken from Hanna’s home by Abdi’s relative the previous week.
Our duty lawyer first helped Hanna by drafting documents seeking the urgent return of her children and an airport watch-list order. The judge – after hearing Hanna’s evidence about Abdi’s threats to kill himself and the children and the history of sexual assault and violence against her – agreed that the children were at risk of harm or removal from the country. Orders were made returning the children to Hanna and police withdrew the Family Violence Safety Notice.
However, there were still significant obstacles for Hanna to overcome. Abdi, through his lawyer, sought orders for the children to live with him, based on his continued claim that Hanna had mental health issues. A court-ordered report and the Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) for the children initially both questioned the credibility of Hanna’s claims and supported her husband’s version of events.
In response, WLSV issued subpoenas to medical providers, Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services – all of which revealed Abdi’s long history of family violence, drug-dealing, drug use (including ice) – and obtained psychiatric reports showing Hanna had no mental health issues while Abdi was not considered stable.
With the ICL and police now supporting Hanna, WLSV succeeded in having the court issue final orders giving her sole parental responsibility and ensuring Abdi does not make contact with her or the children.