A Hug

Sarah and Charlie*

Sarah refused to endanger herself and or her son and go to where she has no support, no money and no job and would result in the father continuing to exercise coercive control over her. This is #HerHagueStory

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

When Sarah's son Charlie was born in Country A, she had full rights of custody. At the time, the father had no rights under Country A’s law because they were not married. When she became pregnant, the father broke off the relationship and wanted the pregnancy terminated. She could not bear to terminate her pregnancy - she already loved her baby. So, instead they agreed she would move back to Australia with her baby after the birth, so the baby wouldn't have to live with the narrative that "my father kicked my mother out when she was pregnant with me and I never met him". 

 

However, after the baby was born, things changed. The father would not discuss their planned return to Australia. He refused to discuss the future and would go into weeks of silent rage if she broached the subject, so she stayed in the apartment, sleeping in a separate room with her son every night, keeping the peace and walking on eggshells.

 

With the advent of COVID, and with Scott Morrison's call for all Australian's to return home, she finally had the support she needed to escape. She relocated back home to Australia with the father’s agreement. He even bought the tickets. They lived with her family.  Her son started attending school in Australia, and now after two years they have become integrated within the community. 

 

When Sarah indicated to her ex that she would not return to Country A, he returned to his own European country of origin, and attempted to lure her there instead.  When that failed, he returned to Country A after almost eight months away and began legal proceedings there. Although she was the sole holder of parental custody rights when she decided to move her son to Australia, nearly eight months later the court in Country A clawed back the rights she had under their law and demanded the return of an Australian citizen and resident child, who is not even a citizen of Country A.

 

Her son was made a ward of Country A’s court, and was ordered to surrender his Australian passport upon arrival. She refused to endanger herself and her son by taking him to Country A where she has no support, no money, and no job and would result in the father continuing to exercise direct coercive control over them both. Whereas, in Australia, they are surrounded by their extended family, friends, and community, and they are free. In Australia her son is thriving and happy. None of this was considered by the courts when making their judgement. 

 

On the fourth attempt, (with each attempt becoming increasingly dishonest) the father was subsequently able to make a Hague application. Even with the lies and the intolerable situation it would create for her son Charlie, it was upheld through an Australian court. She was to surrender her son to him in transit at an Australian airport to take him to Country A. With just three days’ notice she had to obtain all necessary documents, COVID tests, and exemptions, and  prepare her son to be removed from her care. Her son is terrified of the prospect of returning to Country A to live with his father and does not want to leave her side. He asks when he will be stolen. 

 

These applications are dealt with quickly with the intention of returning a child as soon as possible.  They are regarded as summary proceedings, meaning no extensive evidence is assessed and as such, they rely almost solely on whatever is written in the parent’s affidavit. The mother drained her financial resources to desperately fund a legal defence knowing that 80% of defences fail.

 

Legal Aid would not support her, so she approached ISS (International Social Service Australia), who advised they couldn’t help her because she was the person accused of "abducting" her child. The Australian mother, who had always had full custody of her son, had now somehow found herself on the wrong side of the law. The foreign father's legal fees are being funded by the Australian taxpayer. Since returning to Australia, she has reached out countless times to government support agencies, and made hundreds of calls for help to a number of legal support services. This whole nightmare could have been avoided if she had been given the most simple advice about the Hague, but there was nothing available to her. She has even contacted government ministers who to date have not taken any positive or meaningful action. In fact most politicians in government are ignorant of this dangerous law that Australia is a signatory to. A law that knowingly sends children and their mothers to abusers. 

Australian Judges have ordered Charlie, an Australian citizen, away from his loving mother, his extended family, his school, his friends, and Australia; to a country where he is not a citizen, does not speak the language, and where he will be made a ward of the court. 

#Shout with #HerHagueStory. Call Mark Dreyfus and say, #NotThisChild

Sarah and Charlie* #HerHagueStory
To protect the privacy of individuals, names have been changed.