Our volunteer Jane retells Aysha's story.
I found Aysha crying in the court desk waiting area. She had come to the Leeds court to apply for an order, which would stop her ex-husband from taking her two young sons to live abroad permanently.
Her ex husband had moved without providing a contact number or adress and Aysha had not seen her children in almost a year. The father had majority custody but there was no legal reason for him to stop her seeing the boys. Aysha was contacted by the children's primary school and was warned that her ex-husband had booked flights to Moroco for himself and the children to move there.
As Aysha feared she would never see her children ever again, she was very nervous and her poor understanding of English left her confused. Aysha did not have her ex-husband's address and the court was unwilling to list the matter without it. She had also been told that her application did not qualify for an urgent hearing as there was no evidence of abuse. She was very upset and explained that by the time the matter was listed, the children would have gone and there would be no way to contact them again.
I spoke to Aysha about her case and tried to reassure her. Although I was not in a position to provide legal advice, I calmed her by simply being understanding. This came as a relief as she had been frustrated about not being able to get her point across.
Together, we went back to the court staff, who came out from behind the counter and sat with us. I helped Aysha explain why this was urgent and she was able to explain her husband's plan to leave the country. I also helped her complete the necessary forms to stop him taking her children abroad. The court ordered the children's school to disclose the father's adress via secure email. Aysha's phone had run out of battery for her to recieve the email so we also checked the internet to see where the nearest phone shop was.
On receiveing the application and learning of her ex-husbands plans the court and the judge reconsidered and decided the matter was urgent. Hearing this news, Aysha was very relieved and had a smile on her face.
Later, she left me a letter at the PSU thanking me for the support and explaining that she had been awarded another hearing to put her case forward. This was a very emotional case for me as there was a very serious risk that Aysha may never have seen her chidren again. It also struck me how easy it is for an application to be dimissed if the formalities are not followed.
*Names have been changed for confidentiality.