“I don’t think my volunteer barrister really understands what he did for me. It wasn’t just winning the case, he actually saved my life. I couldn’t have done what he did, if I’d had to represent myself. On that day, the right decision was made and justice prevailed.” 

Why did Ava contact Advocate? 

Ava* and her husband moved abroad from the UK with their young daughterAva’s husband became financially and psychologically controlling and abusive, drinking too much and involved with drugs, while Ava was working three jobs to support the family. After enduring the situation for several years and suffering poor physical and mental health as a result, Ava finally left and returned to England with her daughter. They moved in with her mother in a one-bedroom house, while she sought treatment for anxiety. She was declared medically unfit to work or to return to her home abroad 

Unexpectedly, Ava’s husband started proceedings under the Hague Convention in both the UK and foreign courts, essentially accusing Ava of child abduction and demanding that their child be returned to live with him.  

Ava said: I had no knowledge of the Hague Convention – I didn’t know such a law existed. I was served notice and I didn’t know what it was or what it entailed. I’d never even been to court before. 

How Advocate helped Ava 

Without the funds to pay for representation and without access to legal aid, Ava could see no option but to represent herself, until she was put in touch with Advocate, and barrister Robin Powell agreed to assist at the last minute 

I was due in court in London on the Friday and on the Thursday Robin took the case. He was like an angel, honestly, you’ve no idea how much he helped me.”  

Ava had been attending the Freedom Programme at Women’s Aid, designed to help women who have been through domestic abuse. Two friends from the programme accompanied her to a court date – the first time she had ever been to London. 

“We met Robin for the first time at the court and he put me at ease straight away. I felt safe with him and he made me feel confident.” 

Robin represented Ava at this short hearing and agreed to continue to represent her at the final hearing, two months later. The court heard that Ava’s daughter had strongly expressed that she didn’t want to be returned to the Canary Islands and that she would not go back without her motherRobin presented medical evidence stating that Ava should not be forced to go back because it would be detrimental to her health and, in those circumstances, she could not be the mother she would want to be 

Just a few hours into what had been scheduled to be a two-day trial, the judge adjourned and returned with the final decision, that Ava and her daughter were not to be returned abroad and could therefore remain in the UK. 

“I took it in, but I was in a bit of a state of shock. I thought I would be jumping around, all happy, but I felt a bit numb. It had been part of my life for so many monthsI told Robin, I don’t know what you say to somebody who’s saved your life, because he truly had. I know I would have died if I’d had to go back.” 

A step in the right direction 

“When it was all over and Robin left, I felt so emotionalI can’t believe he did that for me, for nothing. I would have paid him if I could, I would have paid him tenfold. 

For Ava, the story isn’t over. She is still recovering, but with support from her family, friends and Women’s Aid, she is building herself up again and looking to the future. With your support, Advocate was able to provide her with a barrister at a crucial moment, ensuring she and her daughter could remain where they feel safe. 

“I knowhat my husband did by pursuing me through the courts was about control, and not about the welfare of my child. He didn’t expect me to be strong enough to travel to London and face him in court. But from the moment I left him, I gained a little bit of my strength back, and I’m getting stronger and stronger. I’m just so glad that the law was on my side on that day. Robin is a perfect example of what British law should be about.