February 19, 2016
A TRINI mother is on her way home from Australia with her two young children after a High Court judge in Melbourne granted her custody and denied the children’s Australian-born father Adam Lacey, access to them.
The 39-year old Lacey was even ordered by the judge of the Melbourne Circuit court, not to make any physical contact with his children, not even via social network, when they (the children) arrive in Trinidad.
One of the children, aged four, was born here and the other, aged two, was born in Australia. Lacey came to Trinidad from Australia in 2013 and married an Arima woman, who after the birth of their first child, a girl, took them to Australia to live with him. The court ruling brought the curtain down on a bitter custody battle fought by the 36-year-old mother over the past three years. She was publicly accused by Lacey of abducting their children in March 2014, from Melbourne and bringing them back to Trinidad to live. Newsday was told that since the ruling, delivered last week Monday, the Trini mother and her children have been placed under protection of the Australian border police, in order to ensure their safe return to Trinidad.
Lacey left Australia and came to Trinidad to work with a cellular networker provider. He met and got married to an Arimian and not longer after their daughter was born, they all left for Australia as Lacey’s contract ended. In March 2014, the woman flew back to Trinidad with both children, unknown to her husband. Lacey, on learning of this, arrived in Trinidad and issued a public appeal for his wife to return his children. He also petitioned the Australian Embassy in Trinidad to intervene. The embassy issued a statement to the media which was aired on local television news channels, that they had offered the Australian father legal advice on how to pursue his claim for custody. In June 2015, the father filed an application under the Hague Convention, Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, on the ground that his two children were abducted in Australia.
The authorities in the Hague referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office, Trinidad having been a signee to the Hague Convention on August 1, 2013, for the protection of children from abduction.
The Single Fathers Association led by Rhondell Feeles, also got involved and issued a public appeal on behalf of Lacey, for the mother to return the children to the father.
Proceedings were filed in the High Court, via the Attorney General’s Office, for a High Court judge to determine the issue of abduction.
Madam Justice Betsy-Ann Lambert Peterson, presiding in the Family Court, ordered the mother to return the children. That ruling was appealed by the mother who petitioned the Court of Appeal for a stay of execution of the Order, but Justice Paula Mae Weekes, however, refused the stay.
The mother did not give up her battle and she journeyed to Australia with the two children on November 16, 2015. Newsday learned that when she arrived there, an application in the Melbourne Circuit court to have the children placed on a watchlist, preventing them from leaving Australia, was listed for hearing. The children were immediately placed on a watchlist.
The children were not be able to leave from any official port of entry, to return to Trindiad.
Also engaging the attention of the judge in Melbourne, was an application by Lacey for custody. The mother challenged the application and on Carnival Monday, a judge in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne, granted her full custody of the children, on a consent order.
According to the judge’s order, no visitation rights are to be granted to Lacey. Newsday learned yesterday that the mother has embarked on her journey to return with her children back to Trinidad.
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