splitting childcare 50/50 between England and France?!

(67 Posts)
shypuffin Sat 07-Dec-13 12:42:41

Hi, I'm in a pretty difficult situation. I stupidly moved to rural France with my partner and 4 month old twin babies 2 years ago but it's just not working out for me. My partner and I argue all the time and have decided we want different things out of life. He wants to stay here long-term but I feel totally isolated and want to return to the UK where I have a support network and means of decent income.

After an horrendous 6 months we've agreed we need to split up but he is insisting on at least 50/50 custody and since it's illegal to take children out of their country of residence without both parents' permission I feel I have to agree to that if I am to live in the UK. The twins have just turned 2, this would mean they live with him for one month in France and then me for the next month in the UK. I have no idea if I could afford this, or how I would go about find flexible enough childcare and that's aside from the emotional impact on us all. What would you do?

Londonlady48 Wed 11-Dec-13 20:49:52

Sorry you are going through this, divorce is bad enough without having these sorts of problems. I don't think 50/50 split will be possible living in 2 countries personally, it is hard enough if the other parent is living a few minutes walk away. I would have thought your best bet will be moving to a city in France where you can both live a reasonable distance from each other and have access.

I can't see a French Court agreeing to you taking DCs out of France tbh, have a couple of friends who went through this and they reluctantly ended up staying in France. They both made new partnerships and things have worked out well eventually. Good luck

shypuffin Thu 12-Dec-13 08:21:03

Hi, he's not budging from this house as he won't be able to sell it any time soon and loves it here and even if I could afford to stay in France, the nearest city is an hour and a half away (and it's Beziers!) so I don't think that would improve things. I don't suppose your friends are contactable on mumsnet are they? It would be good to speak to someone who has been through this - I feel so completely alone.

Bonsoir Thu 12-Dec-13 08:59:45

Are you both British?

PetiteRaleuse Thu 12-Dec-13 09:12:11

Is your DP French? Your proposed solution is unworkable, sorry, but there will be another solution to be found. Do you speak French? Are the kids French nationals?

LoveSewingBee Thu 12-Dec-13 09:24:51

Could you also seek some legal advice in the UK? (I am assuming your kids are UK citizens although at present resident in France).

It may come down who could best meet the needs of the kids, including how to deal with them when they are ill etc. So part of it may come down to having a support network. Does your DH has that where he is? If he is always working how is he going to look after them? Same questions you have to ask yourself.

One big caveat - I am not a lawyer and I am not familiar with the French legal system. However, I would find it outrageous if you could be forced to stay in France or otherwise lose your children. Don't be intimidated by the costs one lawyer has quoted, seek other legal advice as this is probably the way you have to go.

You would think that there are some Mumsnetters somewhere who may recommend some lawyers or know about these things. I really think that you should post on another board to get more traffic. Otherwise there may be a website with advice for ex pats???

I am really sorry you find yourself in such an awful situation. I don't think that many people think about these things when they move abroad (I certainly never did).

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 12-Dec-13 09:29:22

Echo what others have asked re nationality.
If you are all british can you argue this angle? He is pursuing a selfish utopia and you would like to contribute but given the circumstances (remote location/no chance of getting a job) can not make a living for yourself + to contribute and support your children through this scenario.
Agree its all about the narrative and you must get a lawyer who will follow you on this brief and spin it. Its all very cynical I know but that's how it works when you have a partner who thinks this deluded custody arrangement will work.
Maybe for you and him but what's at stake here is the children and that's what any decent lawyer should spin in front of a judge.
Agree a "lesser firm" might be better suited in this perspective. You need to find the right person.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Thu 12-Dec-13 20:12:45

Could you move to a busier area of France with a more active expat population? I know it isn't the same as being with your family and friends for support but it might be better than staying where you are.

bigbrick Thu 12-Dec-13 20:28:20

You say 'partner' - are you married?

bigbrick Thu 12-Dec-13 20:51:00

Your kids are born recently so there will be parental rights even if you're not married. What is your family language? If your kids know no english then this will be stumbling block to them being close to the UK. If you & dp talk in french all the time then this will also show you are close to France. You have to see if your dp can be reasonable and you can work out an arrangement. If you are french nationals then the home is france depending on how long you lived there in the past - if one of you is UK then you will have to determine how best to share your kids upbringing. If both UK the it's not likely that anyone would agree you had to stay in France. It would be useful to have family to support you in the uk, a place to live, financial support and also how you will look after you kids if you are out working, creche/school . The 50:50 split wouldn't work with childcare/schools. You'll both have to negociate with each other how to arrange this - perhaps weekends (whe possible) & holidays in France & your dp travelling to the UK as well.

shypuffin Fri 13-Dec-13 12:26:59

Hi, we are both British and not married and the kids were born in the UK. My partner can hardly speak any french and has no support network here apart from one German neighbour who is helping with building work. My french is better but I've completely failed to make any french friends here and the nearest ex-pat friend I have is an hour away.

We all speak English at home (including the live-in au pair) but the kids have just started pre-school a couple of mornings a week as I thought it was important they started interacting with other kids their age so are immersed in French there. We both work full-time so would both need to pay for childcare though the French school where they go is free.

My fear is that as soon as I go down the legal route my partner will do all he can to keep the kids with him and he has a very good chance of winning. However, at the moment we are still on speaking terms and he seems to understand my need to be in the UK myself which is why he is offering the 50/50 split.

TheNightIsDark Fri 13-Dec-13 12:34:00

Why can't they stay with him? They're his children as well. Are they settled in France? Where will they have the better quality of life? It seems unfair either way and obviously no one wants to leave their children in another country but that goes for him as well.

shypuffin Fri 13-Dec-13 15:16:24

Of course they could stay with him - and I'm sure the French courts would see to it that they did. Maybe I'm being selfish but of course I think I could look after them better, I think it's important to have friends and family around, and the only reason I came to France is that he was threatening on leaving me when I was pregnant because I didn't want an abortion. Also, he has a chance of having another family in the future whereas the only reason I got pregnant was that I was told I was infertile so we stopped using contraception. These last 3 years have been an emotional roller-coaster!

TheNightIsDark Fri 13-Dec-13 15:30:40

That's fair enough. I was just curious as you hadn't said in OP whether he was a good dad or not. The French courts, from my limited knowledge, will go with what is best for the children. I imagine that as they were born in uk, have family in uk etc then that should all go in your favour.

Branleuse Fri 13-Dec-13 16:08:28

I think you should look to move to Beziers with the children, ask him to buy you out of the house if he wont sell it. Youll be much more likely to make new friends in a bigger town, and if youre not as insulated, and able to talk eng;lish to your partner all the time, then your french will improve.

Then he can have normal access to the children, and you still get to keep them.

You could even just give yourself a time limit to try that for, and if that doesnt work, then think about other options such as returning to the UK later

Bonsoir Fri 13-Dec-13 17:14:02

You have been very badly advised; it is highly unlikely that the French courts would prevent you from returning to the UK with your children.

Bonsoir Fri 13-Dec-13 17:19:28

No-one could possibly argue that the children have deep roots in France or French culture. And you, as mother, are more than entitled to move where you can earn money and be supported (even outside France) and you are always more likely to gain residency of small DC than their father is. PM me if you want more info on similar cases! I have nothing but info in your favour.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 13-Dec-13 19:09:25

I agree with Bonsoir you've been given bad advice. The French system would fight tooth and nail to keep French children on French soil, but I can't see them being favourable to a 50/50 or your DP keeping them in France against your wishes.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 13-Dec-13 19:10:40

And he doesn't sound very nice tbh. They are better off with you. Based on your posts.

LoveSewingBee Fri 13-Dec-13 20:40:39

I think your better off to pull the kids out of nursery so they do not speak any French and solely focus on English as you see this as their future.

I (don't forget I am not a lawyer) but to me it seems you are in France under duress, you did not go out of free will. I think that you need to seek urgent advice from a UK law firm.

Not always, but often the mother is best placed, especially to look after very young children. Do you both have paid employment in France or is your partner working for himself? Eg how steady is his income?

It would seem ridiculous if you were forced to stay there or loose your children, to me that would seem a breach of your human rights. Your partner seems to be quite an unpleasant and selfish chap.

LoveSewingBee Fri 13-Dec-13 20:45:37

Could it be an option to agree to the fifty fifty split, go to the UK and then there have it reviewed as you deem it unworkable and not in the interest of the kids (you could say you have tried, but it didn't work out). I don't know the French system well, but I would feel more comfortable with the British legal system reviewing this.

LoveSewingBee Fri 13-Dec-13 20:46:42

Also, this your partner know that you are on Mumsnet? You may need to have this thread removed and start a new one not giving so much info maybe?

Maryz Fri 13-Dec-13 20:55:57

If I was you I would take the 50/50 split for the moment.

<disclaimer: I know this post will make me sound like a right bitch>

Go back to the UK with them, start a new life and take them over to him every month (or even better let him collect them).

He will probably soon realise that it isn't workable, but you will have tried so you would be in a stronger position if a court case happened in England - you would have a house, a job, a support network etc. Try to settle near friends and family and prove you could manage there.

He on the other hand would by trying to manage on his own with two young children and no help. He couldn't have an au pair sitting around for every second month, he has no support network, he doesn't speak the language.

You have nothing to lose by doing this (apart from desperately missing them when they are in France, but you could hope that it wouldn't go on for that long).

merrymouse Fri 13-Dec-13 21:07:19

Does he have a job?

I don't know much about EC law and how it relates to France, but would they really be fighting to keep the children of a British man who doesn't speak French in France?

NumNumChristmasPudInMyTum Fri 13-Dec-13 21:19:12

You absolutely must get legal advice. There are a number of english firms with offices in france or who have close links with french firms. This is a specialist area, and it comes down to habitual residence. Do not just take the children to the UK or he can take proceedings under the Hague Convention. Do nothing to weaken your position until you get proper and conprehensive advice. I'll be back in a min with some links.

LoveSewingBee Fri 13-Dec-13 21:20:40

Also, the sooner you go back the less chance any judge could consider them settled in France. They are too young to have friends etc. Especially with young children a support network is really important I would think.

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