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Concerned about future of DNiece

(49 Posts)
susannahscoffs Fri 19-Feb-16 19:22:39

Posting this just to get a bit of perspective, really, and see what others think...sorry it's so long but thought background would be helpful.

My brother's partner (well, ex-partner now) told DB at the New Year that she was leaving him after nearly 3 years together, in which time they have had a baby - the pregnancy was unplanned - who is now 20 months, my DNiece.
There is a 16 year age difference, she is now in her early 20s. She stopped working when pg and then was a SAHM. He is self employed and has 2 businsses, works 6/7 days a week.

They argued a lot, at the beginning it was mainly because he'd nag/criticise her about things like smoking while pregnant and BF which he felt strongly about,and not studying to get her qualifications, having dropped out of school.
I can understand how this would have got her down... But she's now saying that him urging her to get some qualifications with a view to getting a career was "manipulation" - it wasn't intended to be, he genuinely wanted her to get an education and reach her full potential - and that he destroyed her and is responsible for her depression and extreme weight loss (though she's been on a crash diet and posts constant selfies looking whippet thin and glamorous)

Although she'd been saying she was unhappy for several months, he hadn't taken her very seriously (he's not very emotionally intelligent when it comes to relationships), kept trying to appease her by giving her lots of time alone, girls' nights out etc, trips back to her home country without him and the baby.

While I think he too was unhappy and realised they weren't a great match, he took the news of her leaving pretty badly, since it meant failure of the relationship, and he wanted them to stay together and try to be a family.

When she announced she wanted to move out, she asked him to help her out financially in addition to child maintenance, since living in London is £££ - she had started working in November earning a fairly low wage, not earning much more than the babysitter she hired, but had been adamant she wanted to work rather than do a course to get qualifications - I realise now she wanted financial independence in order to leave him, which is understandable.

He initially refused to give her extra financial help (apart from child maintenance of course) such as paying her rent, as he was hurt and angry, plus he felt he couldn't afford it and was worried she was going to take advantage of him, then I think went back and forth changing his mind about it a few times.

Apparently she said she might go and live somewhere cheaper, either back to Eastern Europe or elsewhere, if he wouldn't help her pay rent on her own place.
Lots of arguments, going round in circles etc

One day in late January after a short business trip to an EU country, she said she had found a job there through her company, better paid than the first job and a place which is cheaper than London but with v. high living standards, and wanted to move with their DD. He got very upset and said he wouldn't give his permission. Cue more arguments...

Then a week later in early February after a second trip back there, she announced she had signed a 12 month contract for said job, had put down a deposit on a flat rental, lined up a nanny and would be leaving on February 15th then returning at the end of the month to pick her their DD and move her out there permanently. That was it, she had decided.
She promised she would bring the LO back regularly e.g. every couple of months for 2 weeks, and a month over the summer.

My DB was distraught and suggested mediation and she refused. He suggested she go out there for a few months and come back asap and try and make a go of it with him - no, she's totally over the relationship. Fair enough. The next day, he begged her to come back to the UK to live and work, and he would pay her rent or whatever necessary to make it possible for her to live on her own and they could share custody. Again she refused- she said he'd had his chance and had screwed it up.

He has now told her he won't consent to her taking the child out of the country for the time being.
But he feels that he has to give in to her quite soon, as he doesn't want to antagonise her further and ruin his chances of maintaining a relationship with his DD, and also feels, rightly IMO, that the child should live and grow up with her mother if it's a choice between one or the other rather than shared custody, as kids need their mothers, but we have urged him to take legal steps and get a court order at least to "buy some time" and work out what's what before handing my niece over to her mother as once the child is resident in another EU country, the UK courts have no authority at all. She is aware of this herself.

She can't be forced to return to the UK to live, but perhaps she can be made to come back for mediation at least, to put proper arrangements in place for their daughter's future and her relationship with her dad?
She has no family out there. My DN regularly sees her grandmother, uncles, and an aunt on her mum's side all in London. DB's ex will have no family or friends to help her out if things are tough as a single mother.

We're worried she might make other impulsive decisions - having left home at 16, then moved to 2 foreign countries in the space of 2 years before she met my DB - and move somewhere else without telling him, or that her promises to maintain regular contact are empty.

Just wondered if anyone has heard of a similar situation and who, if anyone, is being unreasonable here. Thanks to anyone who's read this far!

cuautepec Fri 19-Feb-16 22:26:16

Uuf, well can't say there is a right or wrong in this situation, but when your brother refused to help his ex to rent somewhere near where he lived, knowing that otherwise she could not afford to rent in that area, he didn't really leave her with much choice, even though he is under no legal or moral obligation to do so.

springydaffs Fri 19-Feb-16 22:38:59

I can't honestly see what she had done wrong. He had his chances but he refused, repeatedly tried to control her. She's had enough.

Nothing wrong with leaving home at 16, living in two countries before she met db.

She sounds like she's got her head screwed on to me. Your brother sounds controlling - he's in danger of treating her like the little match girl (he's saved?) - it sounds like you all see her like that. She clearly isn't.

Your dn sounds in good hands to me. You all sound quote controlling.

lloydlf76 Fri 19-Feb-16 22:39:10

In his situation on I'd be applying to the courts for a residence order and prohibited steps order asap. One so he has custody of your niece and the other so that her ex cannot take her out of the country. She's not a bargaining tool she's a little girl who needs stability and familiarity and dragging her to a foreign country with no support network doesn't sound like the best decision for her imo

susannahscoffs Fri 19-Feb-16 22:39:18

Thank you for reading my huge essay and replying!
You're quite right. I remember saying to him "Offer her financial help NOW if you want to keep your DD in your life" - he did offer to help her a few days later, but by then it was too late. He's been quite stupid and pigheaded, I think, in some misguided attempt to stop her from leaving (as if he could!)- he says was in denial about it..

But my feeling is that she acted too quickly and didn't even give him time to get his head around the whole thing. She'd clearly checked out of the relationship months ago, so she's not dealing with the emotions he is.

Plus, she should not have actually left the country so quickly giving him less than 2 weeks notice, and less than 1 month's notice that she is taking his DD away, has booked plane tickets behind his back and everything.
That's the main problem now because he seems to be in a catch 22 situation.

susannahscoffs Fri 19-Feb-16 23:03:40

my previous message was for cuautepec.

I see your point springdaffs, I think my DB was slightly controlling as you put it, partly due to the 16 year age difference, and definitely made big mistakes in the relationship by not taking her unhappiness seriously, but I have left out a LOT about her for the sake of brevity (!) She certainly does have her head screwed on and has had to be very independent and not rely too much on people from a young age, due to her background. I have a lot of respect for that. But my DB had to put up with a lot from her too, lots of tantrums, haemorrhaging money on shopping, and lots of partying til 6am in London's finest establishments while he was home with the baby with work the next day. But all that's basically irrelevant now.

Nothing wrong with moving countries, I've done it myself, it's just the impulsive, underhand way she went out about arranging this that is unfair on him imo. As though she had to run away from him. He's not a stalker type or an abusive asshole trying to control her every move (believe me I know what those are), he's now accepted the relationship is over and is trying to ensure that he doesn't lose sight of his daughter even if she does end up living in another country.

Why do we "all" sound controlling?

susannahscoffs Fri 19-Feb-16 23:11:31

lloyd I don't think he'll apply for custody as it wouldn't be fair to his ex or to the LO, but he just wants to sort out how this can work long term. Presumably shared custody, which would have been reasonable if in the same city, is impossible across two different countries.

Room101isWhereIUsedToLive Fri 19-Feb-16 23:18:02

I think your DB has to accept the situation and do everything that he can to visit his daughter. Yes split residency won't be possible but he can still have a relationship with his daughter, it just will be different to how he imagined.

WombOfOnesOwn Fri 19-Feb-16 23:23:23

Your brother sounds like a piece of work -- getting together with a vulnerable 18 year old while he was 34. I was in a relationship with a similar age gap, and if he'd impregnated me, I'd have blamed him for ruining my life, too -- he should have known better and should have been a decent enough human being to accept that it's his fault for entering into a relationship with an age gap big enough for this girl to have been his daughter.

springydaffs Fri 19-Feb-16 23:26:48

Lots of women are at home with the baby with work the next day.

Parties till 6am? Nope not much wrong with that. I wouldn't pass up that chance if it was going. Hemorrhaging money? Who says - him?

You sound controlling bcs you've all got her in a box - a little match box?

Alanna1 Fri 19-Feb-16 23:30:23

Well.... I think your DB should go consult a lawyer. Fast. And I agree with the poster above about a prohibited steps order. Then they can look at mediation here. With some advice as to his position. I cluding that if he wants to carry on working 6/7 days per week then he can't look after their child.

Susannahscoffs Fri 19-Feb-16 23:53:25

womb I have to agree with you. He should have been with someone closer to his own age. They were both responsible for her getting pregnant, though he really should have known better

springydaffs you sound angry, and I get what you're saying but still don't know why you refer to us "all", i had nothing to do with their relationship in fact i wish i'd been able to help her more (oh no, is that controlling too?) but i'm in a different country!

I have kids and i work but neither me nor my DH go out drinking til dawn on a week night...not least because looking after small kids with a hangover on no sleep is grim. Of course by this age hangovers are much worse...

springydaffs Fri 19-Feb-16 23:56:48

He could do that (prohibitive steps etc) but he'll destroy hopes of a future relationship with his daughter.

The mother doesn't want meditation - she's left the building. The relationship between them is over. Bro may see her as a little project he has to cajole (to 'reach her full potential' etc) but that's not how she sees it.

He's asking for serious trouble if he forces her to stay here. Decades of it. He should have thought of all of this when he entered into a relationship with someone 16 years younger than him, she v young when they got together.

She has arranged to visit the UK regularly which shows she takes her responsibilities seriously. Imo that's his best bet for a good future relationship with his daughter. It's a gamble but tying the mother down for the next 18 years is asking for trouble. She will hate him. Really hate him. Not good for dn, even if her mother doesn't show it.

Susannahscoffs Sat 20-Feb-16 00:08:34

I think you're right. I just wonder then if there's any other way to draw up an agreement without it going to court, which would be valid in both countries. Guess that's a question for a lawyer. I don't accept your view of my DB as some pygmalion character, because having the basic minimum high school dilpoma was well within her reach and in her interests, ultimately, but agree with the rest of your post.
Time will tell, who knows, she might hate the new place, not get pn with the people and the new language and want to return to the Uk.
But, as controlling as this may sound, I couldn't advise my DB to just kiss goodbye to his daughter without at least trying to formalize the arrangements.

springydaffs Sat 20-Feb-16 00:09:43

we have urged him to take legal steps etc

We = all. You seem to know an awful lot about this relationship.

He has controlled her and continues to control her, insisting (as are you) she is a flighty thing who needs to listen to daddy for her own good.

You suggest you have experience of controlling behaviour but for some reason you seem to be blind to your brothers blatantly controlling behaviour in this relationship.

springydaffs Sat 20-Feb-16 00:12:52

The diploma etc may well have been within her reach - but that's her choice. Not yours or your brothers. You're not her parents.

Reluctant2ndtimer Sat 20-Feb-16 00:17:32

So at 34 years old he starts seeing an 18 year old girl, from another country, so far from her own home, tries to 'improve her', get her pregnant and refuses to help her financially in housing his own child when she dumps the creep. Sounds like she's well rid of him.

Susannahscoffs Sat 20-Feb-16 00:44:52

Ok, i did post looking for perspective and i do take your comments on board.. From my perspective so far I hadn't seen him as being controlling to that extent, but that's something to consider and I can understand why their relationship went so wrong, I think.

I know a lot about their relationship *now*, more than before as obviously we've been discussing it in the last month and she's been in touch with me, told me her side of the story trying to get me to reason with him, he's then asked me for advice, has broken down several times on the phone etc., i've found it all very stressful and exhausting. I will be glad when it's resolved one way or the other, and hope to maintain a reasonably friendlyrelationship with his ex.

Enkopkaffetak Sat 20-Feb-16 00:46:00

I think they both sounds as bad as the other.

However I would argue anyone who wants to take their child away from a parent to go to a country they have no proper support in to work is not doing what is in the benefit of the child

Nor is that person doing what is for the benefit of the child in refusing mediation.

So I would suggest legal help asap and a prohibited steps order. it is the fathers baby as much as the mother. They are parents TOGETHER and it matters not if they cant be in a relationship they have to start working together to create a good life for their daugther.

Moving daughter away from all she knows (op says her niece's family is all here) is not in her best interest.

We don't know if he has controlled her. He may have said " i think you sould do x course" He may have said " you HAVE to do x course" we don't know. we know she now claims such. However nothing has been proven.

cuautepec Sat 20-Feb-16 01:24:25

"Moving daughter away from all she knows "

The problem is that she could not stay there anyway as she could not afford the rents in that area. So what was she supposed to do?

RiceCrispieTreats Sat 20-Feb-16 02:10:04

I think you're being very gracious in the way you are handling very negative comments, OP.

I do agree with those comments, though: it sounds like your brother had a very unequal relationship, with a young woman who luckily for your DN happens to be very capable, and is now doing the right thing by getting a job in a place she can afford and where she can give her DD a good life.

goddessofsmallthings Sat 20-Feb-16 04:01:49

There is only one issue here and that is the welfare and wellbeing of a 20 mo little girl who, as far as can be ascertained, has been perfectly content and happy in the care of her df and her paternal family members on those occasions when her dm has been absent for extended periods on trips back to her home country and, latterly, to the country where she now intends to reside.

At the very least I would expect your brother to satisfy himself that all is as his ex has claimed before he consents to his dd being taken out of the country she was born in to a place where he may experience difficulty in maintaining contact, not least because his ex may renege on whatever promises she has made to facilitate contact or may move without informing him of her new address.

That said, he is best advised to consult a solicitor who specialises in family law with a view to applying for a child arrangements order to ratify any voluntary agreement he reaches with his ex so that he can at least be assured of maintaining regular contact with his dd.

If he is unable to reach agreement, he could give consideration to applying for child arrangements and prohibited steps orders or, in an emergency, he could apply to the High Court for his dd to be made a Ward of Court which takes effect immediately pending subsequent hearings to determine whether she should remain warded or whether the wardship should be discharged.

I make no judgement of your db or his ex, OP, and repeat that the only matter of concern here is the welfare and wellbeing of your little dn.

goddessofsmallthings Sat 20-Feb-16 04:11:47

I should have added this link to my post above and it should be noted that it applies to unmarried parents as well as those who intend to divorce or separate: www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce/types-of-court-order

susannahscoffs Sat 20-Feb-16 06:10:32

Thanks goddess that's helpful to know about the child arrangements order

Enkopkaffetak Sat 20-Feb-16 10:11:24

The problem is that she could not stay there anyway as she could not afford the rents in that area. So what was she supposed to do?

Go to mediation? She is refusing to do that did you miss that part? Then perhaps the father would understand what is happening and agree to help. Just forcing a change is never a good thing that goes for both of them.

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