Sarah married the love of her life 12 years ago and together they had three children (a girl and two boys).
Due to her husband’s active service in the Australian Army she has almost single-handedly raised her children but believed that her family would be complete again when her husband returned to civilian life.
Sadly, this did not eventuate. War took its toll on her his mind and body. Despite huge effort, support and forgiveness on her part she was finally faced with the end of their marriage when he notified her via email in 2015.
The babies love their father and, as such, Sarah has endeavored to keep their relationship with him strong, despite his return to the UK to be with his family.
She took the children to visit him and allowed them to be unsupervised so they could participate in their father's family events. Sarah trusted that he would bring them back - as planned - before the Australian school year started in January 2016. They are gorgeous little Aussies who love and only know life with their mum. They love the beach, their friends and their school and were looking forward to spending time with their Dad and then coming home to the life they knew.
Sadly and terrifyingly he did the unthinkable. He has retained them without her consent. She now faces a long and frightening fight via The Hague International Criminal Court pressing charges of illegal retention of the children.
Legal fees of over $300 an hour have brought her to a position where she now considers everything in terms of minutes with the lawyer. Buying groceries, for example, equates to precious minutes that could be spent securing the return of her children.
As a community of mums who love their children dearly, dads who know their children need their mother, and sons and daughters who know the embrace and support of their mother, we need your help.
Unfortunately this battle is not only emotionally grueling but financially debilitating, too. Sarah has incredible strength. She has raised her children almost alone (albeit with the unwavering love and support of the great friends she classes as family here in Australia) and she has spent the last few years completing her Masters to ensure she has a stable income and home for her little ones. As an employee of the Australian Army herself, she has received terrific support from her employer but a single income can only stretch so far. Sarah has no savings and whatever buffer she did have has now been exhausted on legal fees. She sold her car for $10k and is selling off any possessions with value to help support her case.
The wonderful woman who began this page started with a target of $3000. Although all help is hugely appreciated (and very hard for Sarah to ask for and accept) the reality is that this amount doesn’t even scratch the surface. Sarah is faced with ongoing legal fees and more expenses are mounting every week. An initial court case is scheduled next month in the UK to determine where the children belong and to hopefully bring them back to Australia to begin custody proceedings. This will cost thousands. Then the actual custody case is heard (hopefully) here in Australia, where the costs mount further.How can you help?
We are banding together to relieve as much of Sarah’s financial stress as possible as she fights to bring her children home.
In the interests of full transparency, we have broken down all the predictable costs Sarah will face in the immediate future, along with the costs that she’ll accrue when she’s back here for the custody battle.
We are a strong, generous and determined community, and Sarah is one of our own. Any amount you can spare is appreciated. There is genuinely no donation too small. As little as $5.00 multiplied by everyone in our extended networks can make a huge difference to Sarah and her children.
We are also looking for anyone that might be able to help within Family Law here in Australia once the custody case begins. We are very well aware that this initial fight could be just the beginning.
If you would like to contact us in person to find out more or offer genuine help or support please contact me via the blog post mentioned below.
Cost breakdown (all figures are approximate):STAGE 1 – INITIAL HEARING IN THE UK
$3200: Legal consultation costs and preparation of the Hague Application (already paid) that agrees that the children are being wrongfully bring held against her consent.
$4000: Initial legal costs: $2000 has already been paid (funded by the sale of the car) and the next $2000 will be due over the next few days
Sarah will spend five days ahead of the hearing in the UK spending much awaited time with her babies – this is exciting but the cost of this in itself is
Costs in the UK (converted to AUD)
$2000: Return flight to UK.
$3000: One-way tickets for 3 x children from UK to Aus.
$350: 6 days of car hire whilst in the UK (the children are being housed in a rural part of England with little public transport)
$800: Accommodation whilst in the UK
$1,000: Food and living expenses whilst in the UK
Approximate total to get through the next 8 weeks = $14,350STAGE 2 - ISSUE CUSTODY PROCEEDINGS IN THE AUS COURTS
$4000 - $8000: For court lodgings and initial hearings.STAGE 3 - TO COMPLETION OF CUSTODY RESOLUTION
$25,000 - $40,000: One day hearing approx.
For those of you that would like to read more about Sarah's story, her babies and what it is like for her we have created a post on the following blog
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for taking the time to read. There are many messages that we could put out into the world around this situation but what we choose is a banding together to help someone other than ourselves. To show that when we all come together we can really make a difference and to do everything we choose to do with respect for everyone involved.