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Unreasonable behaviour from the biological mother... what can I do?!

(5 Posts)
LadyJustine Sat 03-Sep-11 15:33:07

This is my first message and I'm really hoping I can find some wisdom out there.

Me and my OH moved to France after living together for three years. His 11 year old son moved with us. OH has parental responsibility and the mother was supposed to have access every other weekend. She lived about 40 miles from us. Most of the time, through 2007-2010, she didn't see her son. Out of her 21 weekends, she had him 9. He stayed over in total 21 nights. He regularly called us saying his mum hadn't fed him or she'd locked him and his 6 year old brother out and we'd either have to phone her or go and get him. We always paid to get him up to see her and the onus was very much on us to ensure that he saw her - which we always took seriously, even when she made no effort at all.

In 2010, we decided we were moving to France. We talked it over with her and she agreed that her son would come back in the holidays, have his 52 days with her (and more). Here, we have an acre of land, he goes to a good school with 19 kids in his class, has skype and an xbox live membership and internet in his room and a phone so he can call/text/chat to her whenever he likes. We bought her a laptop so she could skype with him.

She has made no secret of the fact she wants her son to live in England (not with her, but with his father) and has now stepped up her campaign to see him back on English shores. I'm so worried she'll get her way and force us to move back. She constantly sends him messages asking if he still wants to come back and asks him daily if he wants to. When we try to talk about it, he won't talk about it and is very defensive of his mum.

She is on the at-risk register with both this child and her other son. She is utterly irresponsible. She goes out on the town, leaving our son in charge of his 7 year old brother. She is on drugs (speed) and drinks most nights. She smokes 40 a day in the house. She works 6 am til 12 in a care home (don't even get me started on that!) and has been in re-hab four times, unsuccessfully. I'm not worried she would get custody, but that she would be able to force the original parental agreement to be upheld i.e. 2 days every other weekend - which would make it impossible for us to live here (although I'd move to Aberdeen or Cardiff to ensure it was as difficult as possible for her to see him!) and I'm worried she could force us to move back to the UK. She owes us £3,500 in child maintenance which she hasn't paid since 2009. But despite all of this, I'm petrified that she'll get her way and have no idea how to handle it all. All the other stuff - the death threats (really!) on facebook, the drunken abuse, the phone calls - I can handle - but I can't handle knowing that she could potentially have her way over making us move back to the UK.

Has anyone got any experience at all over this? I'm not even sure where we stand having taken him on a verbal agreement - even though he sees her more now than he ever did (part of the problem) - we're not entirely abiding by the agreement.

Also, she's told her son her plans to 'get him back' and it's really messing with his head. How on earth do we put an end to all of this??! Despite my personal opinion of her, I'm desperate to do the right thing by her son. But that doesn't mean us living in England where we were robbed constantly and he never owned a bike for more than 2 weeks, and it doesn't mean going to the local comp where mechanics or hair and beauty are the only practical options for him. I want the best for him - but I don't want the life available from a large English town which were the only places we could afford to live. Living round the corner from druggies isn't my idea of a life for him, and at least here, he can go on bike rides and play in the woods, take the dogs for a walk. I have such doubts about moving him here, though the flights are cheaper than the train and take less time to get back to his mum's than if we moved to Kent or Devon (we're from Up North!)

Has anyone got any advice at all? I'm at my wits' end! Worrying I'll have to go back to a life we all hated just so she can send us messages at 3:00pm on a Friday afternoon saying she's going out for a 'girls' night out and can't have her son until Sunday afternoon (and then only for 2 hours) is not my idea of a life for him. I'm terrified it will come to this.

Woozlemum Sat 03-Sep-11 16:52:29

I would suggest getting some legal advice about where you stand, and try and get your OH to have a bit of a 1:1 chat with him, no pressure, about how he feels, not just about his mum and the situation, but in general.

I would imagine that her previous track record will help towards your grounds to stay where you are, but I really think this is more of a legal matter that a professional would be better at answering.

Really feel for you in this situation and I hope it all works out for the best.


chelen Sat 03-Sep-11 17:16:03

Hi, I totally understand why you would feel worried, its very unsettling when the future feels like it could be disrupted.

I think a chat with a solicitor would be the best idea. We had similar questions ourselves at one stage and found the clarity of the advice given really helped put our minds at rest.

Having read what you say about mum's problems and the situations your SS has to face while there, I do wonder if unsupervised, long stays are the best thing for your SS - if you do see a solicitor you could check all this out too I guess.

Hope all goes well.

LadyJustine Sat 03-Sep-11 18:21:20

I wonder the same things, Chelen. We have to go too and stay a mile away so that we can be there if any problems occur. I don't even know whether we should see an English solicitor or a French one!! I wish it was a French one. She'd be in court for her behaviour.

OH won't even talk to me about it. He's firmly of the opinion it will go away. Problem is, his passive behaviour over the last 18 years is what has got him here. The courts always come in his favour but without him doing anything pro-active, it isn't solving anything. The trouble is, when he went to court last time, his ex made sure his daughter knew everything he'd said about her - the ex - and won't stop involving the kids. He's of the opinion it does more damage to rile her with solicitors and social workers and if he just leaves it, it will go away. I'm of the opinion even if it does, the damage she is doing to her own son and his relationship with us is going to become irreparable like it is with his daughter who is now 18 and blames me for everything.

I feel like we're damned if we take her on and we're damned if we don't. He thinks we're more damned if we do; I think we're more damned if we don't.

I wish the courts would cut her out of his life. You'd think my OH is Hitler and I'm Myra Hindley, the way she talks about us. I think solicitors on Monday. I might try and find out what the law is here regarding cross-border families - there must be one. And given how draconian they are here, I'm quite sure it wouldn't be tolerated.

I think you've picked up on my other concern, Chelen... I personally think she shouldn't have any unsupervised time with him at all and that all her conversations with him, online, by text or in person, should be supervised. Is this realistic though??! She traumatised him to such an extent at Christmas by a full-on bitching session about his dad and me that he wouldn't get out of bed for two days. His cousin witnessed it and gave us a full account. I think that social services would find this reprehensible (or anyone with a conscience or half an idea about raising kids) but he thinks that the courts only care about the mother's 'rights' - having been there before. How do I get him to see that he needs to revisit the solicitors and/or social services when all he sees is that in the past it was impossibly hard, tore his daughter apart and the social workers didn't seem to be able to do anything about his ex's behaviour?

I think I'm personally going to check out the legal situation - I wish there was a 'cease and desist' hammer to hit her with! But how do I get him on board when he just thinks it'll make things worse (not sure how they could possibly BE worse?!)

LadyJustine Sat 03-Sep-11 18:22:25

Thanks so much both of you for answering... You've no idea how much any support means. I feel like I'm trapped in a no-man's-land of being able to do nothing.

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