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Soon-to-be ....... Alone

(52 Posts)
Franglaise Fri 15-Apr-05 10:27:03

Hello. I'm the mother of 2 small children and I live in France. My husband is soon to leave me to return to England. I cannot afford to pay the rent of my house on my income and finding childcare will be difficult, as we used to share it. Also the kids will suffer I know, once he leaves. So, as a beginner at this, where do I start? How do I cope? What happens now?

colditz Fri 15-Apr-05 10:28:49

Bumping this for you, I don't know the answer to this though, sorry.

Toothache Fri 15-Apr-05 10:29:14

I don't have any answers for you I'm afraid. Just wanted to say I'm sorry that your H is leaving you. He will be paying you maintenance will that not help with the rent? I don't know how the law works in France though. There are a few French Mumsnetters here who will be able to help you.

Aimsmum Fri 15-Apr-05 10:35:45

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Franglaise Fri 15-Apr-05 10:43:02

I was hoping one of the French mumsnetters would be able to help too. The benefits system here has me flummoxed and there are few people who can help me because they are all as confused as me! I think my h will be hoping that I give up and return to England, which is why I'm determined to stick it out. My children are settled here and just because he doesn't like it, I don't see why we all have to move just to accommodate him, I feel as though I have been accommodating him for most of our marriage. Thanks for your thoughts though, it's nice to have people around, even in cyber-space!

Tiggus Fri 15-Apr-05 10:57:11

Franglaise, very sorry to hear that you are going through this. However was brought up by a single mum myself so don't think it is all doom and gloom -- we got through very well, despite the bumpy ride at times!

What I would say tho', and you can shoot me down at will, but as a rule my hard-earned wisdom is:
Kids get on a lot better in single-parent households if they are near the other parent.
Single-parents need to be as near to their network as poss. This helps with all kinds of things, emergency babysitting, company, sense of identity for parent and kids.
Parents, once they decide to separate, need to hang up their boxing gloves and get everything straight for the kids. THis might include going on hols together, living next door to each other, providing access to unpopular parents-in-law etc.
Sorry if this is stuff that you have heard a million times before, but this is what I believe is the case for "successful" splits.

As for France, I have a little experience there too. The benefits system is highly bureaucratic, and often the best person to negotiate on your behalf is a social worker, or local solicitor (notaire) or even doctor. They will get you on the right track and hopefully within 12 months (yes, that long), you will have financial assistance.

France also provides excellent paid-for childcare in cities, in order to attract and retain young families in urban areas. Rural areas aren't so good, and unfortunately local people are often more judgemental there.

Sorry for the long post and boring advice, hopefully some is useful.

chloemummy Fri 15-Apr-05 11:26:39

Hi Franglaise

Dont know how the law operates in France. I lived in Belgium for a while and you were still able to claim benefits. In fact you can transfer your benefits to another eu country.... I am sure there must be a way out of this mess.... Do you speak fluent french? Surely there must be somewhere to go and ask for advice. In Belgium you would go to you local Commune? Not sure if this helps

Franglaise Fri 15-Apr-05 12:17:28

Thanks. Tiggus, I do understand what are you saying, and I haven't heard it a million times before because no-one knows our situation. Basically he is leaving me, I am happy for him to stay, but he wants to go back to England. It took me a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get where I am today, if I go back I will lose my children to his family, and maybe that will be the best thing for them, I don't know. Maybe he will go home and realise that he wants to be out here, with us, maybe he won't. Maybe I will realise that my children would be better off with the support you mentioned, and I will return to try and find a council flat for myself close to his parents so they don't miss out (my family aren't worth a mention here).

I am in a difficult situation and I know it. If I return to England then I will most certainly leave him, as I cannot and will not return to the life we had before, which is exactly what he wants to do, right down to working for the same company he worked for before. If I stay here then there is a chance he might see things clearer, put his immediate family first, and come back to finish where we left off.

It's complicated and fraught with emotions, I'm deleting each paragraph as I write it because nothing sums up how I feel and there is no right answer. I guess I should just see what happens.

I am not fluent in French, not yet, it's taking me a long time to learn the language but I am trying!

Marina Fri 15-Apr-05 12:47:40

Franglaise, you aren't a regular posting under another name are you? Your situation sounds so hard (I'm a francophile Mumsnetter but only ever lived there in halls of residence so cannot think of anything useful right now).
I think you are very brave to make a go of it in France. Is there a British High Commission, or Embassy, anywhere near where you live, which can advise you?
I guess otherwise you might need to call in at either your local Hotel de Ville or Mairie.
Is there anyone living near you who knows your family a little who might be willing to come along and get you started? Can your employer offer you some support/point you in the right direction?
My understanding is that HLM developments are the equivalent of council housing in France and I would have thought that if you are in danger of losing your home and have two small kids you ought at very least be able to apply for a flat.
I am sitting here hoping you get some "native" help soon and that you are not who I think you are.
Bon Courage, France is a wonderful country IMO and in your situation I'd be inclined to stay put and tough it out. Tiggus' views are valid ones but I get the impression you are happier with your new life in France, have maybe finally got a child well settled in school, and that your dh is homesick and has not acclimatised at all.

Tiggus Fri 15-Apr-05 12:51:27

First off, if you don't speak French then you have to find someone locally who speaks English eg a notaire if you can afford one, or get straight on to social services and tell them you need an interpreter.

Is there an ex-pat network / association near where you are? Can you tap into them for free help and advice?

DO the kids speak French? Are you in rural or urban France?

The French system can be very generous, but slow and ftustrating so make sure that you have other sources of funds to pay the rent / food / utilities etc. Don't forget that healthcare in France is not free at the point of entry.

Do you have work? You may be a member of a Mutuelle that will pay health care and other benefits. Your husband's work may al;ready be paying for these things for you and the kids?

Franglaise Fri 15-Apr-05 14:05:28

Rural France. H's work has mostly been illegal as he has been unable (unwilling?) to find something legitimate. I am trying to get on something called a CMU which entitles us to free healthcare, but I always seem to be missing some vital paper or other, this time it is 'Declaration' number which is a number you are allocated when you have declared your income for taxes. I haven't done this yet because the form is a nightmare and I cannot afford to get anyone to help.

Marina - yes sorry.

ggglimpopo Fri 15-Apr-05 14:10:53

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ggglimpopo Fri 15-Apr-05 14:11:26

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Marina Fri 15-Apr-05 14:11:55

You're not anywhere near GGGL are you?
I am so very sorry. If it is a matter of translating documents then I can help. But that's all I can do for you right now. XXX

Marina Fri 15-Apr-05 14:12:54

Tiens, te voila GGGL! On venait de parler de toi. Guess which part of my house I will be rummaging around in this weekend?

ggglimpopo Fri 15-Apr-05 14:12:58

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ggglimpopo Fri 15-Apr-05 14:14:10

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Marina Fri 15-Apr-05 14:17:15

Voila. I am so sorry, but our loft ladder makes a noise like Mount Krakatoa and I have not been able to get in there without disturbing les enfants since I belatedly remembered that canopy! Saturday morning I will be up there. ;)

Franglaise Fri 15-Apr-05 14:19:54

I should attempt a grim smile here, but there is no icon for that. GGG we've met.

ggglimpopo Fri 15-Apr-05 14:20:28

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ggglimpopo Fri 15-Apr-05 14:21:19

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Marina Fri 15-Apr-05 14:23:41

I hope I'm not saying the wrong thing here [hesitant emoticon]. I'm sure I'm not the only person who may recognise you despite the name change and will be devastated about all this on your behalf. With gggl on the case now you can't go wrong but if you DO need something translated, or stuff sent from the UK, CAT or post here. XXX

Marina Fri 15-Apr-05 14:24:48

GGGL, can we meet May week 2? Am in Boulogne for end of May but that's not frightfully convenient for you!

ggglimpopo Fri 15-Apr-05 14:25:40

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Marina Fri 15-Apr-05 14:26:40

Oh yes indeedy. Pretty much bang in the centre of it and hard at work this Friday afternoon

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