Can Mum take the DCs and move them away from their dad?

(55 Posts)
Poppinsesque Sat 13-Apr-13 18:00:36

Found out this afternoon our best man and his wife are most likely separating. (best man told DH while we were over for lunch). He's terrified as she has said she will take the DCs (6 and 2) and move back to the south coast which is a 3 hour drive from where they live now and where his job is. (she works at home so can essentially be anywhere).

He had wanted them to have 50/50 or similar arrangement to suit the children's needs and both parents work.

Can she do this? I would have thought she would have to have some sort of agreement from the dad to move them out of school/nursery and move them hundreds of miles from their dad. She told him as long as she stay in UK she can go wherever she wants.

Poor bloke's terrified he will lose his kids.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 13-Apr-13 18:02:28

He needs to take legal advice ASAP. She may be hurting and lashing out?

YouYoniLiveTwice Sat 13-Apr-13 18:06:00

He needs to get advice about applying for a Prohibited Steps Order and/or Shared Residence.

Spero Sat 13-Apr-13 18:10:04

If he doesn't agree to them moving she will need to get permission from the court. So he must make it very clear he doesn't agree and if he thinks she might just up and leave, he can apply for PSO as Youyoni says.

If she ends up with a sole residence order, generally the courts are sympathetic to primary carer's wish to move within England and Wales, for work or family support etc. but she will have to show good reason, if it is just to put distance between her and ex to spite him, court won't like that.

MrsLHofstadter Sat 13-Apr-13 18:11:02

Poor guy, not surprised he's terrified.

Yes, it's possible she is just lashing out or trying take some control as she feels everything else is falling apart. Doesn't mean she will act on it.

HeySoulSister Sat 13-Apr-13 18:11:45

Yeah sadly she'd probably can!

You need good reasons to gain a pso...

Poppinsesque Sat 13-Apr-13 18:14:47

Yes - I thought it would most likely be her using the kids to try and make him stay in the relationship. (she has some relatively minor mental health issues). DH told him to go and see a solicitor as soon as possible.

So is it likely he could stop her? He is a great dad and would be devastated to only see his kids every other weekend. He's also worried how his wife would cope with the kids alone as she has depression. ( not that people with depression can't cope with kids but she often struggles with the kids alone now.)

Thank you for the advice

Spero Sat 13-Apr-13 18:18:18

It depends on why she wants to move. If is for family support or similar good reason, court might be sympathetic. But any move that makes regular contact with other parent more difficult will have to be supported with good reasons. She can't just up and go if he does not consent.

But much better to try and talk this through that go to court, if you can avoid it. Often the adversarial process causes significant and bitter rifts. But it may already be very bitter.

Poppinsesque Sat 13-Apr-13 19:27:47

She wants to move because her friends are all there. Her family live near where they are now.

I think she is very hurt and is lashing out. But I also think its very selfish to take DCs who will be going through a lot already away from their dad and grandparents.

Tough situation isn't it as I can completely see her point as well.

Spero Sat 13-Apr-13 19:40:05

It is always hard when parents split. I don't think there are ever any winners, mostly you are just trying to find the least worst situation.

I hope they can sort it out by talking.

LineRunner Sat 13-Apr-13 19:47:33

Yes - I thought it would most likely be her using the kids to try and make him stay in the relationship. (she has some relatively minor mental health issues).

What a very cruel thing to say.

Spero Sat 13-Apr-13 20:01:41

Please don't make this about mental health, unless there are reasonable and serious concerns it will impact on her ability to parent.

It is perfectly understandable and likely that if she didn't want to split up she will be in a great deal of emotional pain and lashing out could be part of that.

Did he leave her for someone else? If so, he is going to need to tread carefully and not be insisting for eg that new girlfriend is part of any arrangements anytime soon.

Talkinpeace Sat 13-Apr-13 20:09:11

my mother moved me over 3000 miles from my dad
I saw/see him for a couple of days each year
he's still my dad though and we have a reasonable email long distance relationship 45 years later

LineRunner Sat 13-Apr-13 20:11:20

Telling DCs that either parent is 'not right in the head' (or however it is phrased) after a break-up never ends well.

Xenia Sat 13-Apr-13 20:13:11

His lawyer can help him. The 6 year old may be settled ni school. The father's family may be near by. The father may be very involved with the children. I am sure a case could be made. Perhaps he should suggest he has the children and the mother moves 3 hours away and the mother has them every other weekend and see how she likes the sound of that.

Spero Sat 13-Apr-13 20:18:29

And if father is in full time employment, how likely is that eh?

If I had a pound for every father who agreed to give up his job to look after the children, I would have er about 4 pounds. In ten years.

Please don't adopt a combative approach immediately. If she is going to be utterly unreasonable then you may have no choice, but turning this into a battle is just a recipe for probably years of misery and enormous legal bills - no legal aid now unless you are going to throw domestic violence into the mix.

Poppinsesque Sat 13-Apr-13 20:43:09

Good point xenia - DFriend told DH that he didn't want to go through courts if they could avoid it as he didn't want to cause extra emotional stress for anyone. He also said he wouldnt want to fight if she wanted to move as he feels bad enough he wants out of the marriage. I know he wouldn't want to do that to her (although he told dh he'd love the kids with him all the time.... But I think he's probably underestimating that!) but I feel sad for him that he has to feel he's 'losing' his kids just cause he doesn't want to fight.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 13-Apr-13 22:48:59

So he's gutted about losing his kids but doesn't want to fight?


It doesn't have to be a fight. Can they work through a mediator?

How long has it been since he told her he wanted out?

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 09:44:39

So why did he want 'out' of a relationship where he has fathered two very young children? To be with someone else?

If so, then don't be surprised if she is gutted and needs to be living somewhere where she will get emotional and practical support. All our choices and actions have consequences.

Poppinsesque Sun 14-Apr-13 10:33:44

I believe (from what DH tells me of their man to man pub chats) that they've been having a tough time for over a year. They are very different people and she is very controlling. (I've seen this many times first hand). He is a shell of the man he was when I met him. He doesn't want to fight for the kids as told DH it would break his wife if he got full custody and as she is quite a fragile person he would be worried about what that would do to her. He still cares about her a lot I believe. She's the mother of his kids after all. I think that's why he wanted to try and do 50/50.

As for meeting someone else... I asked DH this and he said "no" although he did look a little uncomfortable with the question so I wouldn't be surprised if he had and that's given him the final kick to get out.... Also crossed my mind maybe MY DH has someone else! But I think that was me being paranoid about his shifty

Poppinsesque Sun 14-Apr-13 10:34:55

About his shifty look.... (posted too soon)

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 11:54:44

I think it is very rare for a man to leave a relationship without someone else lined up.

If there IS someone else and he is spreading the word that its all her fault for being so horrible and controlling then be prepared for this to get ugly very quickly.

Xenia Sun 14-Apr-13 12:12:35

Sometimes they do and may be this lady is a full time worker as I was and her husband does more at home than she does. I certainly agree a fight is best avoided but how many mothers on this thread would let their husband move their children 3 hours away without at least trying to keep them closer?

He might find it very convenient if he has a new lover not to be involved with his children and leave it all to his wife,. perhaps the conversations about wanting 50/50 are just to mask his relief his wife is going to take on the full burden so he can spend all his time with the new lover without having to wash children's clothes and supervise look after the children . Hopefully not but you never know.

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Apr-13 13:02:25

Agree with spero : all the marriage breakups I've watched have involved Men sticking with the bad option till a better one comes along and then they go.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 14-Apr-13 15:59:30

He can fight for 50:50 without fighting for full custody.

STIDW Sun 14-Apr-13 16:46:10

He can fight for 50:50 shared residence but the reality is it is an uphill struggle changing the status quo and the courts don't make that many orders for 50:50 shared residence. I would have thought the last thing he needs is to risk alienating his ex more than necessary causing resentment and resistance in case she does end up moving.

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 16:53:44

I would hope most parents would be very sad about idea of their children moving three hours drive away but this doesn't have to turn into a 'fight'.

They should be talking about how to make this work best for their children, BUT as i suspect this man is shacking up with someone else and trying to feel less guilty by hinting to everyone that her mental health problems are the cause of the relationship break down.... I guess it will turn into a fight.

Or maybe he isn't much of a fighter. Doesn't seem like he 'fought' for the relationship very hard, if the youngest is only 2.

STIDW Sun 14-Apr-13 16:57:40

Xenia Sun 14-Apr-13 12:12:35

"... but how many mothers on this thread would let their husband move their children 3 hours away without at least trying to keep them closer?"

On the other hand as one Australian judge said it can't be assumed in every case that mothers desires and aspirations should be subjugated, not to the needs of the children but to the desire of the father to live in one place, without at least considering if the interests of the children would be better served by the father moving.

LtEveDallas Sun 14-Apr-13 17:01:28

I have a colleague going through the same thing at the moment - the only difference being is that he is fighting for custody.

It has become a bitter, vicious battle and is costing a lot of money.

Originally he was happy with 50/50, and it was going well. But he was taking on more and more responsibility. His wife then told him she was moving back up north and taking the children. She actually drove up there and move in with her mum.

Long story short - She was ordered to return and they are now locked into fighting with each other above all else.

Interestingly he assumed that he wouldn't have a chance in getting 50/50 let alone full custody because of his employment (forces) but the original judge threw that aside really quickly. Apparently being employed/using childcare is not an issue.

(Oh and he didn't have a new partner in the wings - still hasn't in fact)

Xenia Sun 14-Apr-13 17:01:47

Indeed. My own view is that in most cases if a couple decide to live in place X say New Zealand or UK and to start the family there and are settled there then if one wants to move away fine they can but not with the children unless there are really good reasons like the other parent is abusive. That is not the view of the courts who normally let mothers take children across the world to return to their homeland in many cases so I am not suggesting it is always easy to obtain a prohibited steps order to stop mother or father moving children away.

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 17:10:08

The last leave to remove case I had involved separated parents who had a week on week off arrangement. The mother got a job abroad and wanted to take their son. The court refused and he lives full time with his dad in the UK during term time and sees his mum in the holidays.

I just don't accept the courts are biased against fathers. They look at the best interests of the children. Fathers may have more of a struggle because often they have not been the primary carers, especially of younger children.

expatinscotland Sun 14-Apr-13 17:10:19

My guess is that he's shagging someone else.

balia Sun 14-Apr-13 17:19:14

I'm a bit shock at the description 'very sad' as a reaction to having your kids taken 3 hours away. It's all very well saying it shouldn't be a 'fight' but how else can one parent react when the other ISN'T thinking about making things work for the DC's? Unless we think that fathers are so disposable thast it really doesn't matter if they can't see him for weeks on end? Or is it only OK if he has cheated/started another relationship. Are we going to punish all married people who have affairs by taking their kids away?

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 17:25:43

We don't punish people who shag around by taking their children away. BUT if you shag around, dump the mother of very young children and then cast aspersions on her mental health, don't be surprised if she wants to move back to her family for some love and support. Ad dont be surprised if the courts let her.

Sorry 'very sad' doesn't cut it for you. It would describe how I would feel. Perhaps you would prefer a more emotive term. If so feel free to insert more dramatic term of your choice.

ZZZenagain Sun 14-Apr-13 17:31:13

yes, I think she probably can

Piemother Sun 14-Apr-13 17:49:00

So she may have mh issues which require social support. I say 'may' because my dick head exh would cast that aspersions on me if it suited his agenda. he's allegedly concerned about her coping in her own but doesn't want her to have any support because a its inconvenient for him. And he wants his own way but he doesn't want to go to court.
Wonder if the ex wife is a mner wink

LineRunner Sun 14-Apr-13 18:20:35

It's the oldest trick in the book, isn't it, calling the ExW a 'bit mental'.

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 18:25:21

And worst thing is, the line is trotted out to all family and friends who lap it up, mother feels more and more isolated and alone... And wants to move.

Xenia Sun 14-Apr-13 19:01:26

Thankfully most parents aren't like that. Most parents do stay near and arrange regular contact between themselves without courts. Not always possible however.

STIDW Sun 14-Apr-13 21:02:04

There should no preconceptions and relocation needs to be worked out on a case by case basis. My ex moved 400 miles away but we remained civil and regular every other weekend was feasible because our children were old enough to fly and at that time flights were very cheap if they were booked long enough in advance. The quality of the relationship the children had with my ex was the same as when he lived near by.

Other separated couples live nearer and aren't civil so contact breaks down or is minimal. The relationship between separated parents is so poor that children are damaged and can't learn by example to communicate in their own relationships in adulthood. That's why it is important for parents to try to work together, or at least not against each other, and resolve problems constructively rather than fighting damaging long term family relationships.

LineRunner Sun 14-Apr-13 21:07:09

I think it's important that parents try to work together.

When one immaturely tries to cover up their guilt or garner sympathy by accusing the other of being a 'nutter' then it's desperately bad for the DCs, and the partner who is being maligned will understandably want to withdraw.

Talkinpeace Sun 14-Apr-13 21:10:57

Both of my parents are grossly immature - especially about each other.

LineRunner Sun 14-Apr-13 21:15:39

Oh God yes, this stuff goes on into their adulthood for so many children. Always being made to take sides, choose which lies to tell, who to avoid, subjects to avoid, all the way to therapy. Very damaging.

And it all starts with the comment, back when one parent leaves, 'S/he's not right in the head.'

Spero Sun 14-Apr-13 21:58:56

Couldn't agree more.

If this bloke is a 'nice' bloke, if this relationship has genuinely broken down because two people just couldn't get along anymore, if he genuinely has the best interests of his children at heart, he will stop going on about how concerned he is about her 'fragility' and how it was her being a nutjob that broke them up...

In fact he will stop wittering on to all his mates and talk to her. If she is too hurt and bruised to talk, he will give her time and space and stop spreading unpleasant stuff about her.

If he really is genuinely concerned about how her mental state impacts on her parenting he will make an application for sole residence of the children.

Poppinsesque Mon 15-Apr-13 07:07:18

Gosh he's taking a pasting!

Why is it that when a woman Is with a controlling man and talks To a close friend about it she is told she's brave for confiding in friends and brave for leaving but when a man does the same he's accused of "withering to his mates" and calling his wife a "nutjob" or "nutter" and people say "he hasnt tried very hard if his youngest is only 2". How long should any individual have to live with someone whos EA (it is me who recognises this in her btw, not him slagging her off!) He said to one close friend that he was concerned because she is fragile and I don't think that constitutes pulling a "she's a nutter" card.

As for him shagging someone else... I would be hugely surprised as he's not the type - but they never are are they? I don't know what has given him the final push to try and make the move out but I don't think that wanting to leave an unhappy marriage is necessarily the worst thing to do.

He's off to see a solicitor this morning apparently so hopefully there will be some more light shed on the situation with the kids.

Dadthelion Mon 15-Apr-13 07:10:45

And there isn't any amateur psychological diagnosis on Mumsnet.

There are more narcissistic ex's than hot dinners.

STIDW Mon 15-Apr-13 08:26:01

Actually some of us aren't amateurs wink

Piemother Mon 15-Apr-13 09:32:58

Since the ex wife is moving, I assume she hasn't laid claim to the family home. Therefore the exh could sell it and move. Obviously this would take time and might be difficult wrt moving/changing jobs but really this should be the first consideration if the wife is planning a permanent move. Why not?

Spero Mon 15-Apr-13 09:51:30

Op, please consider my obvious use of the hypothetical.

I may be very much an armchair psychologist but I have many weary years of seeing just how these scenarios play out.

So tell him to talk to her, not to you. If she is not able or willing to talk after a reasonable space of time, go to court. But please don't make this about someone's mental health unless there is genuinely a concern this will impact on their parenting. Otherwise I can promise your friend he is opening a door to a World of Pain - not just for him, for all of them.

Dadthelion Mon 15-Apr-13 10:02:56

'Actually some of us aren't amateurs'

So can you diagnose someone on what someone else (who can be slightly biased) says about them on an anonymous forum?

You're going to be rich and famous.

Spero Mon 15-Apr-13 10:35:42

Of course you can't diagnose from a screen, and no one is attempting to.

But it is legitimate to recognise predictable patterns of behaviour and likely outcomes.

I could be utterly and embarrassingly wrong of course ~ hence liberal use of word 'if'.

mumandboys123 Mon 15-Apr-13 21:49:33

oh there is an Adulterers Bible out there somewhere - they only sell it to people committing adultery. It never, ever ceases to amaze me how these situations play themselves out - men (and sometimes women) saying exactly the same thing to their ex/about their ex up and down the's like they've all read the same thing. Entirely predictable. After a while, you get to accurately predict what the next move will be.

OP - with the 2 year old, who is the main carer? if they are both working but mum is working from home, who is doing the school runs for the 6 year old? Basically, he would have to go some to get full residence of children of this age unless he has been the primary carer. He would likely struggle to get 50/50 if they haven't genuinely shared care prior to this date. What the courts don't do is mess with established bonds/ties/routines.

If mum is main carer, he can try and stop her moving by taking out a Prohibited Steps Order but it is unlikely a long term option. The simple fact is you can't stop people getting on with their lives and when relationships break down, trying to work and manage children is difficult and where there is family willing to support, it is reasonable to move.

And I agree, the 'she's mental' comments ring massive alarm bells(and is chapter 2 or so in the Bible) and I would be very, very careful making any assumptions about their relationship and who may or may not be in the wrong/right. You can be a friend without taking sides.

newbiefrugalgal Mon 15-Apr-13 23:14:50

Anyone not concerned about her just moving to beneath friends?
Not family. Would the courts see that as favourable?

Or is it only his family she would be moving away from?

Spero Tue 16-Apr-13 08:31:23

Anyone who wants to move children a long distance for the other parent will need to show that this is in children's best interests because distance will inevitably have a negative impact of the frequency of contact with other parent.

So if you were parenting equally before and are moving just to be near friends, court might not be sympathetic.

But if mother was primary carer before the split and can show that the move will benefit her in terms of much better support or better job then she will probably be allowed to move.

But it is all very fact specific to each individual case. Moving for friends might be acceptable, may depend on what you are moving from, such as an ex who harasses you (or continues to spread rumours about your mental health)

Snorbs Tue 16-Apr-13 09:05:56

Poppinsesque, I'd recommend that your friend get in touch with Families Need Fathers. They're a good bunch who can really help to recommend ways to resolve these kinds of issues in as non-confrontational way as possible.

Court should be left as an absolute last resort as it can end up being about winning or losing rather than what's best.

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