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Is this through family law courts?

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A dear friend of mine is trying to gain custody of her kids back - her ex ran off with the kids, she couldn't track them down and wasn't eligiable for legal aid so not knowing the courts or having the money for a lawyer, she didn't have anyway to get her kids back. she finally discovered after 18months that child protection had stepped in and taken the kids away for neglect, no-one from docs contacted her till now. docs is letting her have alternative weekends but she wants her kids back with her, the foster care is not caring for them at all and it is breaking her heart to not have her kids and see them in this state.
my question is, is it family court or something else which deals with these types of child disputes? and if family courts then although it's with docs, is she still welcome to post on here and is srl resources still relevant in someway for her to join?.
If the children had been abducted both DOCS and the Police would have been initially involved and there would have been a file record of the children for the Police and DOCS to refer to when the children came under the protection of DOCS.

DOCS have great powers but they would invariably have sought an order in the Children's Court (Children's Courts are State Courts) to validate the Children's removal and regular placement in foster care.

The Family Courts have little involvement with the Children's Courts and the transfer of cases between the two Courts is very small.

Basically State Children's Courts are dealing with Child Protection Agencies who mostly initiate the applications.

Either your friend or DOCS is not providing the whole picture because invariably the children would have been returned to the original parent after a short delay. For DOCS to only allow visiting implies DOCS have some concerns about the Mothers care.

Initially your friend should find out exactly
1  Why DOCS are holding the children
2  What Court Orders have been issued?
3  DOCS Case Management Plan for the children

'If' the children are under an order issued by the Children's Court the Mother would need to take the matter to that Court if she is not satisfied with DOCS proposals for the children.

Note that Children's Courts are closed Courts and the public are not permitted to attend or watch hearings.

SRL-R is still relevant to her because if she has to fight DOCS in a Courtroom she will need more than moral assistance to challenge their resources.

SRL-Resources. the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars)  Non gender Professional and peer support for SRLs. Closed site, no public forums, no search engines, no lurkers, guests or the other side and their Lawyer and Friends.
Family law arena is helpful as DOCS also litigate there, and one can perhaps be educated about DOCS as an opposition. The Family Court does not have the right nor the ability at this point in time to make Orders as there already exists an Order in the Childrens Court. A parent can apply to the Childrens Court, particularly if a Case involving them and their child is currently in that Court.

I suggest applying for Variation of Orders now, or at regular intervals in the Childrens Court. Ask straight out for return of children, and if it fails ask each month to increase the hours you have them in your care. Find out about what types of grounds are available to your case if needed.. Ask the Court for a form to apply to vary the Orders.

Or, appeal any orders made even if out of time.  Or, sue the DOCS dept if you feel wronged or you feel your children have been wronged, by DOCS.
Questions: 1. Did she seek recovery orders when her children were initially abducted, if she didn't, what action did she take to recovery her child and is there evidence of this? 2. Have matters relating to the care of these children been before the Children's Court at any time?

Assuming she didn't file recovery orders and there aren't Children's Court orders - your friend could file a Recovery Orders application with the Family Court. Although this would be a highly unconventional, unorthodox and somewhat controversial given the circumstances. But there are valid reason's for doing so. Unfortunately it would take an experienced SRL no run such an application. A lawyer probably wouldn't recommend or run this type of application in such circumstances.

Please response to the above questions.

For a women in her 40's she is quite uneducated and in some ways naive - there are some language barriers involved in this where i feel dhs has taken advantage of the situation. she did not seek a recovery order, she couldn't afford a lawyer and legal aid wouldn't cover her (not sure why though - been awhile now). she had no idea who to turn to in this situation (ie free legal centres for advice)  - this originally started 2 years ago she has had every other weekend for 6 months, at the time i was only new to the court stuff so had no knowledge about recovery orders and such.
as far as we know there are no orders, dhs has a letter given to her stating this is the arrangement they will allow and we do not have much knowledge on anything else - we have been left in the dark by dhs. I am hoping this site can be an avenue of help for her if it goes to children's court I have been told I may not be able to be there to help her, we were hoping it is family court as then we here hoping i could be her friend there and also help out on translating the more complicated things (there is only one lawyer in our state who speaks her first language and it takes a month booking ahead to get her a translator for centrelink so I have become her support person in anything above what she is capable of understanding in english)
When she tried to get the kids back she called all her ex's family and friends to track him down and those in this state we tried dropping in on incase they were lying. we tried all the minor avenues of checking if he changed the address on the joint account (but didn't touch them at all ), we checked electoral roll to see if it was updated and she tried calling and talking to him several times in first week but then he disconnected that number.

My fear is dhs is being prejudice towards her - i am there at every meeting (support and translate). they will on one hand say she can not provide a good home for the children as  oh i forget the term but something like culturally illiterate implying her english skills are lacking, yet on the other they will constantly talk to fast for me to translate(as english is my first language - i only learnt her language 4 years ago) and in complex terms/phrases so she needs me to translate.

she is a good mother and women and I don't think this is fair.
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