When Abeo's marriage broke down, his wife accused him of having an affair, committing fraud, financial control and domestic violenceAdding to his distress, she refused to let him see their young daughter, Florence, claiming that she was worried he would take her abroad and not return.  

Abeo saw his daughter in mid-2019 but when his wife refused to let him see her againAbeo went to Citizen's Advice for help and applied for Child Arrangements Order requesting contact with Florence. After a very frustrating few months of not seeing her, the court set an initial hearing date, where Abeo had no lawyer to help him. The court could not make any progress because of allegations made by his wife, so set a final hearing for the following JanuaryAbeo reached out to Advocate, who helped find him a barrister, Stephanie Painter from Pump Court, to represent him 

At the hearing, the social worker told the court about the close bond between Abeo and Florence and how she missed seeing him. She recommended regular, direct contact between them but during the hearing, Abeo’s wife made new domestic violence allegations, which prevented the court from ordering contact to start again until they were resolved. Further hearings and fact-finding were listed, but Abeo's barrister persuaded the court to order an indirect re-introduction to Florence through regular weekly video calls and letters.  

Advocate's dedicated volunteer barrister Stephanie said: "I feel Abeo needs ongoing assistance, as otherwise he will be unfairly prejudiced at the next hearing. I am happy to continue representing him."  

At the next hearing three months later, which was held by telephone due to the Covid-19 lockdown, Abeo's wife dropped her abuse allegations and agreed to some contact between Abeo and Florence.  

This time, with the benefit of legal advisers representing both sides, the court suggested negotiations to see if a consent order could be reached. The barristers spent a few hours negotiating the details and speaking to their clients, which enabled the parties to reach an agreement. The court order allowed supervised contact between Abeo and Florencefollowed by unsupervised contact, moving to overnight stays once a month and during school holidays. To allay any fears about Abeo absconding (which he denied intending to dothe court made a Prohibited Steps Order preventing him from taking Florence abroad.  

Stephanie said:

"Abeo was very grateful for my assistance and thanked me a number of times for my support throughout his case. He was relieved and delighted that he will now be able to see his daughter again." 

Abeo said:

"My hopes were lost until I came in contact with Advocate because my case was very complex. Words cannot express how much gratitude I feel. Thanks so much to Advocate and especially to my wonderful barrister Stephanie Painter. She did a very great job, I can’t thank her enough."