THE DISAPPEARANCE of Townsville sisters Isabella and Bronte Watter who reportedly vanished with their mother Cassie six weeks ago has drawn the public’s attention to serious custody issues.
Legal professionals have urged the public to realise that parents who abduct their own children to avoid custody proceedings run a serious risk of losing the children when caught.
Gold Coast family law expert Jennifer Hetherington says the publicity surrounding the missing twins has focussed attention on the serious consequences that are associated with fleeing to avoid custody disputes.
“The public generally knows little of the processes involved in custody disputes but they are often one of the most sensitive and emotional aspects of a relationship breakdown,” says Ms Hetherington.
“If [Cassie Watter] took [the girls] because of any safety concerns, she should be aware that when they are eventually located she risks the children being potentially placed with the father or in other care because of what she did.”
In addition to admonishing the media to handle all family court matters sensitively and with caution, Ms Hetherington says it is crucial for parents to seek proper advice in the event of a relationship breakdown or custody dispute.
“In situations like this I cannot stress too much the importance of parents getting professional legal advice,” says Ms Hetherington.
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