Two grandparents have told of their anguish after their bid to stop their granddaughters being taken to Australia by their mother failed. They lost a highly emotional court case costing them £30,000.
Dawn and Chris Clark were left devastated when their son Delwyn’s ex-partner Camila decided to make the move with the grandchildren they adored.
According to charity The Grandparents Association, 42 per cent of British grandparents lose contact with their grandchildren after a son or daughter’s relationship breaks down and, one million are denied contact by one parent.
Delwyn met his Brazilian partner Camila while working in Australia. In May 2012, he moved back to England with her and their two daughters.
The family moved into the Clarks’ home. As neither of the girls’ parents was working at that time, Mr Clark supported them financially.
The relationship between Delwyn and Camila soon began to break down and, in 2013, she moved out of the house.
Shortly afterwards, she announced her intention to return to Australia with the girls. As Delwyn objected to her plans, she hired a lawyer.
The Children Act 1989 states that, in situations like this, parents and children have a right to be heard but grandparents do not.
Talking to the Daily Mail, Mrs Clark said that Camila “made all sorts of allegations against [Delwyn], and in the end we had to hire a barrister. That’s when the money started being spent”.
The judge ruled that the girls’ mother could take them to Australia, which she did ten days later. Since their move, the Clarks have only had three video calls with their granddaughters.
“It breaks my heart,” said Chris, who lives in Essex. “They’re both daddy’s girls — real little tomboys. The thought that they are growing up on the other side of the world and that we’ll miss all those moments during their childhood . . . well, it’s very sad. For our son, of course, but for us, too. This has been harder than we ever could have imagined.”
Grandparents who use the legal system to try and win more time with their grandchildren are very common in the UK. Earlier this year, government figures revealed that as many as seven grandparents every day apply for child contact orders.