A local mother was left devastated when her son was withheld by her ex-boyfriend recently. G114412

A WONTHAGGI mother who didn’t see her child for more than a fortnight after her ex-partner refused to return him home has learned the importance of formalised custody agreements the hard way. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was “a complete mess” after her 16 month-old son wasn’t returned home by his father after an access visit. “It’s the most disgusting feeling in the world, not knowing where your son is,” she said. The woman and her partner separated in March, and although there was an informal custody agreement typed up by a mediator, which outlined visitation and access rules the father had to both his son and three-year old daughter, there was never an application processed through the Family Court of Victoria. When returning the children home to their mother after a visit on Sunday, October 14, the woman said the man wouldn’t hand their son over, even though their daughter had already exited the car and walked inside. “I thought he’d bring him back,” she said “I spent all day driving around the local area looking for him. “Then, when I called (the ex-partner) he said he was going back home with him.” The woman said she then went to the local police station in Inverloch, where officers called the Victorian Child Protection Service, but was told that because the man was the child’s father and there was no court-ordered custody agreement in place, nothing could be done. Separated from her baby for the next 14 days, and worried about his safety due to what she said was a history of mental illness related to the father, the woman sought help from her lawyer and an interim intervention order was issued by Wonthaggi Magistrates’ Court late last week. Wonthaggi Police acting sergeant Glen Reilly confirmed the mother was reunited with her son late Friday. “We served him with the order, which prohibits him from having the child and the child was returned to her,” Sgt Reilly said. The woman said she would seek full custody and urged anyone whose relationship fails and there are children involved to go through the proper custody channels. “Anything can go bad at any stage,” she said. “It might be amicable for a moment but it doesn’t always last.”