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splitting childcare 50/50 between England and France?!(67 Posts)
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?
It's unworkable. On 2 years they'll be in school - what then?
I agree - a month in the UK / a month in France is totally unworkable.
Do you both work full time? Is one of you at home more etc?
My DD started nursery in her school at 2.10, complete with fairly non negotiable attendance and proper school holidays... I have a close friend where he is English she us French and they're London / Paris based post-split. He has the daughter for at least a week every school holiday plus a weekend every two weekends every term (I believe she gets the Eurostar after school - she's older than yours!).
Is your passport British? I have frequently travelled to / from France just me and DD (because my DH won't fly and I refuse to drive all the way every time!) and have only once been given a second glance. DD has a diff surname and an official asked me if she was mine. I said yes. We went through! In reality, I can't see you not being able to get back to the UK...
Sorry - my friend has his daughter for two weekends every term as well as a long stretch in the hols.
Legally its not that she physically won't be able to leave France with the twins, but that it's classed as kidnapping if she does on a long term basis without her partner's permission, and will put her in a very negative position if he pursues her for custody.
I think they have to be with one parent for school purposes (long term, not that they need to be at school at 2 even if most French children are) and the other for the long holidays and as many weekends as travel arrangements make possible. The international situation will make it expensive but probably not more than if one of you lived in Cornwall and the other in Scotland... Not ideal but possible, but it will probably not be exactly 50/50 - though who has the more hours actually physically with them might be 50/50 once they are at school (or full day child care if you have to work full time in the UK to support them) and the one who has the holidays might actually have the better deal...
I'd get it legally and officially agreed in some way in your situation, to put you in a strong position down the line for making sure they always come back when they are supposed to.
hopping on the Eurostar should be no problem but yes in the big scheme of things that can be, and will be constructed as kidnapping.
Its a very short sighted plan. I can understand how you want to to agree to it to appease things until you work out an actual workable scenario. But really, its not workable. You must seek mediation and put a proper custody agreement in place.
Sorry you're in this position OP - rural France can be soul destroying. Why is your DH adamant he wants to stay? Is he working?
No court will allow you to do the proposed childcare share! You must take legal advice. You may very well be allowed to take your twins back to the UK with you if you proceed through the proper channels and have a good lawyer.
Unworkable sorry. You need legal advice
If your children are British nationals born in the UK to two British parents and are not yet at school in France and you the mother have been their main carer, you have every chance of getting a French family judge to agree to you taking them back to the UK. But hurry up!
rural France can be soul destroying
Yes. A dear friend of mine married a lovely Frenchman and lived there in the countryside for quite a few years. They had two children. In the end they split up because she was so unhappy there. Felt really isolated.
She was in a different situation to you OP cos he went crewing on a yacht round Asia.
After about two years he returned to Europe and came to UK regularly. By this time the kids were at school but they would go to his in France during the holidays.
Could you work out something like that? It really seems unworkable to do it every other month. The kids wouldn't be very settled, I imagine.
Yes, legal advice is the way to go. Maybe have a look at the Reunite website, they have specialist lawyers on there.
Wishing you all the best anyway.
There isn't much point spending time in imagining creative solutions for childcare split if you are going to be dependent on a French lawyer and French family court.
Just wondering if you have considered moving to a city in France with your DCs so that you could have more of the life you want (although obviously still no family support). But if you say lived in Paris it might tick most of your boxes, and the kids spending time with their dad would be a lot easier? Just a thought...
I think that it would be best if you seek legal advice as quickly as possible.
I hope that justice prevails in the best interest of all. My gut instinct would be to take the kids to the UK and then sort it out once on home soil, but I am not a lawyer and it may be the completely wrong thing to do.
Legally the children are resident in France so a French family judge has jurisdiction.
IME French family judges are very reasonable and really do have the DC's interests at heart.
That won't work. However school holidays in the uk at private nursery or private school are around 22 weeks a year. So they could potentially go to school in the uk and visit France every holiday
I already asked the advice of a specialist legal firm in Paris. They told me that to get legal permission to return to the UK with the kids would cost me around 15000 euros and even then I'd only have a 50% chance of winning and that was when I was breastfeeding! I hope you can understand why I therefore want to stay away from the French courts. I don't want to be trapped here and my partner is not going to leave any time soon because he has made a massive investment in buying a farmhouse which he is renovating.
Artandco - I didn't realise you could get childcare in the UK that have 22 weeks holiday. How do I go about finding such a nursery?
Pretty much any private nursery or school will. Ie a month a Xmas, month at Easter, 10-12 week summer hols, as well as 1-2 weeks each feb/ may/ October. It really depends on your area ( and if you can afford private nursery/ school for 2)
Otherwise you could until school age use a nanny. School in the uk isn't complusory until they are 5. You could just pay nanny a pro rata amount so same each month regardless of if they are here. Ie £500 a week is norm. You could pay £400 every week of the year to allow for her not always working half year but also flexibility
Or they could be home schooled at 5?
Maybe BONSOIR or other mumsnetters in France can advice where to seek a second legal opinion.
Again I am not a lawyer but why would you need to have to pay so much money? That seems to make it very difficult for you in order to get justice? Maybe there is a Mumsnetter who could point you in the right direction??? Maybe repost somewhere where there is more traffic. I don't know if there is a place for legal matters.
I hope somebody can help you, it sounds an absolute nightmare and you would not expect something here in Europe. At least, I would not have expected something like that.
You could also look at using a nanny to travel with them (so you stay in the UK and work in the time they are away (maybe overtime or flexibla hours so you could reduce your hours when they are here?))
Personally I would be wanting to get a agreement in place, I know you asked ta the specialist firm but could you not go for somewhere cheaper / get a second opinion.
You certainly don't need to use a specialist law firm - there are lots of good lawyers who don't charge big firm fees. Can you ask around for a recommendation? You need a lawyer who is local to you.
Sorry but what about the needs of your children?
How on earth can it be a good idea to be shipped every month from one home to another? Sorry but that's a receipe for disaster for them. Poor kids.
Is there anyway you can make your DH see this?
I've been trying to make him see sense for 6 months now. I would gladly let him see them all he likes during holidays and for long weekends but I just don't want to be in France and don't think it's good for the kids for me to be permanently miserable either.
I agree, I probably don't need a specialist law firm, but if they told me I only had a 50% chance of winning my case at a time when I was breastfeeding, how would a lesser firm have a better chance a year on?
They tell you that so that they can charge you lots of money for "lots of work." Remember that you need to manage your lawyer, and that includes writing your own script of your life, not letting them take over and argue the law in a standard way.