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splitting up abroad with babies(9 Posts)
I have 11 month old boy/girl twins from a 5 year relationship. The pregnancy was not planned (we weren't even living together) and my partner spent 2 months trying to convince me to have an abortion. He didn't want kids at the time and feared they would prevent us from following our plans of moving to the south of France and renovating a farmhouse together. I was terrified of being a single mum so when he changed his mind half way through the pregnancy I basically said yes to everything he wanted, not really thinking things through. So here I am, in the South of France, feeling totally isolated. Everything is new - the babies, living with my partner, the country etc. etc. I have lost loads of weight through stress and he can't understand why I'm not blissfully happy. When we're not arguing we're avoiding each other which is probably worse and I've come to the realisation that it's not going to work out.
Trouble is, though I faced the scenario of being a single mum with twins a year ago and I know it would be possible with the help of my mum, I haven't the foggiest of how to make that happen since we're all in France and if we split up he would want to keep the babies as much as I do. I on the other hand would have to come back to the UK because without him and this house I have nothing here whereas I have a job, property and support network in the UK. He seems to think that if that happened they could live with me half the time and him half the time and thinks I'm being a selfish when I try to explain you can't do that with babies when you live in different countries. His name is on their birth certificates. We're all British and we didn't leave the UK until the babies were 4 months old but I understand that the Hague convention prevents me leaving France with the babies without his consent. He won't even agree to me taking the babies away for a holiday to visit family and friends.
He can't leave France even if he wanted to because he has just got a huge mortgage (all in his name). Can he throw me out? I contacted a french lawyer to see how difficult it would be to get consent to leave and was told it would cost about 15k with only a 50% chance of success. So what on Earth do I do?
It's all subject to French Law. You can't I think come to the UK with the child without the father's permission, but your French lawyer needs to confirm that.
You need to find a good French lawyer - try charlotte www.iaml.org/members_data/profile/charlottebutruille_cardew/index.html
She was the French lawyer I contacted
In reality, how complicated would it be for my partner to use the Hague Convention to force me to return, given that he doens't speak french, doesn't want full custody and I have no home or job in France?
You need to ask the court for permission to move to the UK. I would start by writing to your partner even though you live together - in plain facts. numbered points - we lived in UK to 4 months age of babies, my ties are UK etc etc. Then say you have decided they will all be better off in the UK but you would certainly allow them to come to him for holidays, would fund perhaps 6 flights a year for him to come to the UK and as you will be working and he has the massive mortgage you would not expect his financial help in the UK (if you can live with that). Then say you intend to apply to a French court for permission to move the babies to the UK with you on the basis he can have them to stay for significant periods of the year but you would rather reach agreement with him first and will be respond in writing / by email within 7 days.
Are you still breastfeeding them?
By the way I breastfed twins and worked full time right from when they were 2 weeks old. It is possible.
Is he French?
IOf the mortgage is the issue and he is English perhaps your parents could remortgage to pay off some of his loan in return for him agreeing that you come back to the UK .
Try to think laterally about it. Probably you can understand he wants his children with ihm of course so that is another issue
Have a look at the Reunite website - if the courts decide that the children were habitually resident in France and there is no consent, it is an abduction. France is a member of Hague and also Brussels II Revised as is the UK. The English courts are very compliant with the international conventions and, if an application is made, they will return the child in 6 weeks in accordance with Brussels II. There is non means tested legal aid available for the "victim" ie your partner and lots of very expert English lawyers who would be delighted to take his case it is still relatively well paid. The French Central Authority should pay for the translations of all of the court documents. You need to consider your position very carefully - you may also be in breach of the French penal code - go and take some good advice.
Why is the mortgage such a huge barrier to him coming back if he really wanted to ? Are you in negative equity ? If he's done it up, surely you shouldn't be ?
Are there any expat support networks around where you live ? There are a lot of Brits in the south of France and in the short term, you should like you could do with meeting up with them. (Whereabout in the South of france are you ? Are there any big towns nearby ?)
you need his consent to leave France with your children, if he will not give you persmission to leave France with the children then you need to go before a judge for a decision.
Having gone through the french courts and having a bitter custody battle I will say that the French courts do consider both parents to have equal rights to the children there is no bias towards mothers as there is in the UK, and they consider the children to have the rights to have relationships and spend equal time with both parents. It is common for a judge to say 50/50 care. I was told do not attempt to take your children to the UK it is almost certain you will loose them if you do this, the judge does not care about you at all he is only interested in the children and their well being.
What is to your advantage is that the children have not yet started school, and you have not been here long, but you must have the advice of an avocat. Do you have friends around where you live who can give you support? if not there is AngloInfo and a few other ex pat things that can give good support and advice
I am in South West France, my avocat spoke english and french and knows the system very well she is near Cognac if you want her details PM me, or if there is anything else I can help with, more as someone who has been there.
Thanks everyone, sounds like I am stuck. I've tried really hard to make friends and integrate in the area but so far I've only made English friends and they are an hour's drive away. I thought the babies would be my passport into the community but the nearest baby group is 45 minutes drive away and I'm really struggling to know where to take them when the weather is bad. I guess I've got no choice but to keep trying
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