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?

LoveSewingBee Fri 20-Dec-13 19:13:34

If you both work from home, plus he doesn't speak French his demands seem even more unreasonable. Can you see a UK lawyer once younare both back in UK for Hols? Try early on in Hols so lawyer got time to come up with a plan. Could you refuse to travel back? He has after all agreed to go to UK after all?

shypuffin Fri 20-Dec-13 17:51:32

I work from home, as does he.

KingRollo Wed 18-Dec-13 19:27:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shypuffin Wed 18-Dec-13 15:03:53

Yes, it would be great to get a recommendation for a good lawyer, but I am over an hour from Beziers and over 2 hours from Toulouse and Montpellier. Trying to get to an appointment when I work full-time without my partner knowing would be next to impossible. Does anyone know of any French ex-pat forums that might have recommendations?

KingRollo Tue 17-Dec-13 18:07:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jenpetronus Tue 17-Dec-13 18:03:07

I'm sorry you're in this position - can't offer any other help than what's been said above - but I can't help but wonder how he imagines he's going to look after 2 year old twins while renovating a farmhouse hmm

FarFarAway Sun 15-Dec-13 22:38:02

Agree with some other posters. I live and am divorcing in France. Don't leave or agree 50/50 split because as another poster said this will set a precedent for the court.

The french courts are not so bad and have the interests of the child at the centre. Although 50/50 splits are to be encouraged statiscally the mother gets the garde of the children more than 90% of the time.

Your partner does not speak french. If I were you I would find a mediator. He or she will put your case to the judge with the facts. The facts are your partner does not speak french and has no network to help with children. You can prove the opposite for you in the UK. You have no roots or connections to oblige you to be there. You need the permission of a judge before you leave the country.

shypuffin Sun 15-Dec-13 13:08:55

It was the UK law firm with offices in France that gave me the previous information I referred to which has put me off going down the legal route ever since. If anyone knows of any French organisations that would give advice over the phone I'd really appreciate it as there is no way I can get to see a lawyer without my partner finding out (as we live so far away from cities and both work full-time).

In the meantime, we're all heading back to the UK to see family for Christmas and I will try and figure out how I would afford to move back with them (my partner owns this house and all my savings are tied up in equity in 2 flats I rent out in London). Thanks to everyone for all their advice, I'll keep you posted..

LoveSewingBee Sat 14-Dec-13 16:28:33

OP - Hope you are seeking legal advice, ideally from a UK firm who has also offices in France.

I think other posters are right, you NEED to get legal advice asap.

Bonsoir Sat 14-Dec-13 08:30:01

Do not agree to the 50:50 as an interim measure as it will create a precedent for the court (even though a French court would never agree to this long term, it could create a situation whereby your STBX will get more child-time than you would like).

All those who advise but who don't know French family courts - I'm sure you mean well, but French family law and courts do not behave in the same way as English ones!

PetiteRaleuse Fri 13-Dec-13 22:55:12

I got what you meant maryz just wanted to point out the mistakes some women have inadvertantly made. Abandon is a big deal in French family courts and it means leaving, not actual abandonment.

Maryz Fri 13-Dec-13 22:34:55

Sorry, I didn't mean don't take them with you, I meant don't appear to kidnap them.

Sort it out, agree to the 50/50 on a trial basis, take them home for Christmas and leave him to come and get them.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 13-Dec-13 21:48:48

Don't leave them in France though without a written and signed agreement in place. Abandon de domicile or abandon de famille would never go in your favour. Women have lost custody over here for moving out short term and leaving the kids. French women with French kids.

Alanna1 Fri 13-Dec-13 21:36:01

Get some legal advice. FAST. My gut instinct is to agree as a "trial" for "a year". But go see a lawyer!!!

NumNumChristmasPudInMyTum Fri 13-Dec-13 21:32:14
NumNumChristmasPudInMyTum Fri 13-Dec-13 21:27:31

www.reunite.org is a uk based charity with a helpline for parents who have had children abducted but also who may have abducted their children. They can help you with basic advice and pointers of where to get help.

Maryz Fri 13-Dec-13 21:26:55

And yes to going back soon. Not taking them, but agree to the 50/50 (record the conversation or have it by email) and go home for Christmas, don't go back, he can come and get them in January.

Don't stay long enough for them to learn to speak French, to start school etc.

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.

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.

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?

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).

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?

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 20:40:39

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.

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.

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