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Ex wife refuses to help with kids travelling between homes - AIBU

19 replies

Manaskingforadvice · 01/04/2019 08:58

My ex w and I spent all of our married life as expats apart from one year. When we separated we were living in Dubai. Two and a half years after separation she moved with the DS10 and DD12 to the UK. We are now divorced. I'm still in Dubai.

The childcare arrangement is DS and DD spend the holidays with me in Dubai and term time with her in the UK. She insists handovers should be parent-to-parent and objects strongly if for example the grandparents bring them. So at the beginning and end of every holiday and half term I fly to the UK from Dubai and go to her home to collect or drop them off from her door.

It's 12 times a year, of course. So I spend one weekend every month on average travelling. I leave home at 1am UK time on Friday, fly, then drive to her home near the south coast to get them or drop them. Reach the grandparents' home with the kids by 7pm, sleep there then get up to go back to the airport before finally arriving home in Dubai at 10pm on Saturday. Then I'm back in the office on Sunday.

I'd like to move to the UK and I'm looking for a job but no luck yet. My ex wife lives on child maintenance and spousal, and I'm paying the school fees and of course for this travelling. By choice (she negotiated her hours down from the full time her employer wanted) she works part time including every Monday off. I have a very demanding full time job.

I've done this travelling without (much) complaint for 18 months but I recently suggested to my ex w that she should really be helping, especially as she is so forthright about parent-to-parent handovers being in the kids' interests. She dismissed the idea out of hand as "ridiculous". I'm extremely ticked off about this. AIBU?

OP posts:
Soontobe60 · 01/04/2019 09:07

She's having you for a complete mug!
She chose to return to the UK, she should be prepared to come to a fair arrangement.
At the very least I would expect her to collect the children from the airport on their return. However, she sounds very entitled. Why she won't allow the grandparents to collect / drop off the children I do not know! This is all about control. I'd be very tempted to call her next time the children are in Dubai with you and tell her she needs to come to you to collect them, but I know that would be a disaster.

Palaver1 · 02/04/2019 00:49

Yes why on earth would you do this to yourself...why
On another note some airlines will have young children on board without a parent accompanying.I did this a lot whilst my daughter was going to another continent to school .It was BA that we used

ScreamScreamIceCream · 02/04/2019 11:19

As other posters have said you are being a complete mug.

It is perfectly acceptable to have a third party who you all know including the children, take them between you. In fact some child contract arrangements are specifically done using third parties to avoid the parents meeting.

Don't know where you got divorced but if it's in the UK you need to go to mediation about child arrangements, and back to court about spouse maintenance. Due to the age of the children she is expected to be full-time unless there is something preventing her for being so.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 · 02/04/2019 11:25

What's her objection to the grandparents? Do either of them have any convictions?

converseandjeans · 02/04/2019 11:26

Do the children want to spend all their hols in Dubai? I know it's not the point of the thread. But I wonder if you could for some of the hols book into a hotel in the UK local to them, or take them to grandparents and have a few days together that way? Not sure my kids would want to go away from 'home' every holiday. Or could you do a UK mini break like Centerparcs of few nights in London?
What do the kids do all day if you are in work - bearing in mind they travel over the weekend when you are off work. It sounds like the time they spend with you is mostly the journey and then you're back in work. Who entertains them when you're in work?
I do think she is unreasonable however. She should do some of the travelling & pay some of the costs.

converseandjeans · 02/04/2019 11:27

Agree with others - surely the grandparents should be able to help out with this? I know lots of kids spend time with grandparents in the hols when parents are working. Why can't they do that instead of jetting off to Dubai?

insaneduetobrexit · 02/04/2019 11:27

Well I suppose you have fantastic airpoints Smile but your ex should help more.

And why grandparents can't pick up or drop off is beyond me.

Good luck with finding a UK job too.

Worried2019 · 02/04/2019 11:29

I would call her next time they're there in Dubai and say right, they're ready for you to come and collect! Or just keep them there! You have every right as their father to keep them there full time. She sounds abusive and selfish so the kids would probably be better off!

SimplyPut · 02/04/2019 11:43

I don't think encouraging @Manaskingforadvice to hold the children in Dubai is remotely sensible Hmm.

Your ex wife is clearly being unreasonable. What is written in your agreement? If you don't have one spend the he equivalent of a few flights fighting for legal fees to ensure you have a better set up going forward.

sashh · 02/04/2019 11:55

Talk to your children. They are old enough to travel alone and many children that age do so. Maybe next time they visit they can fly back on their own and be collected by their grandparents?

She id being ridiculous and it does not benefit the children at all. Also your children should be able to have time with their grandparents.

The cynical side of me thinks if you tell her you will continue to pay for the children's school fee and travel costs but if she want you to do pick up and drop off she has to fund it or at least half she will soon thik grandparents are a better option.

Manaskingforadvice · 02/04/2019 13:33

Thank you for all the kind advice. It's good to get the opinion of the hive mind. Although its a nice idea to say you can come to collect them from Dubai I think I will resist the temptation.

The kids give every indication of loving being in Dubai for the holidays. They've got lots of close family here and friends from their old school. I try to compress my work and take days off.

The agreement does say a parent, or grandparent, or third party can take them. But its fuzzy about dates saying they spend the majority of holidays with me, with two weeks with her in summer and Christmas shared. The intention of both of us at the time was that the majority meant all except the exceptions listed, but there is some room for debate now in the wording. If that seems a lot of time for dad please remember the agreement was made in the context of me agreeing to (and paying for) her to move the kids away from where we had all lived for years to another country. It means I don't see them at all for at least five or six weeks at a time. I funded her move so comprehensively she didn't look for work at all for the first six months. My mum even loaned her a car when she first arrived, which to her surprise, my ex didn't give back until she got a job either.

If I suggest the grandparents take them she starts trying to trim days off the beginnings and the ends of dad time. When the agreement was made I didn't know quite what kind of person I was dealing with as it was before money matters went to court. Funny how you only really know someone once you've divorced them.

There is no safety issue with the grandparents at all, and from a practical standpoint they are both global travellers who are more than capable. My ex's view is that its better emotionally for the children to go from one parent to the other. I do agree with that to an extent, although I don't think its as big an issue as she seems to. I just don't think I should be the only one doing all of the work.

Regarding spousal maintenance that's a whole other story of woe. Might share that another time.

OP posts:
insaneduetobrexit · 02/04/2019 13:38

Manasking you sound reasonable and caring and you have looked out for the mother of your children and your children.
In the long run that is what counts and it sounds like you have gone about this all in the right way.

I hope you can work something out and get your grandparents more involved.

But until then keep being that fair caring parent.

ommmmmmG · 02/04/2019 14:22

I would definitely talk to your exW and gently sound out the DC about how they feel, whether they'd be up for travelling as unaccompanied minors or with their grandparents. They might even like it - lots do, mine included.

Because it's highly unreasonable of her, not to mention controlling, to insist on them being accompanied by a parent every time, then make you do all of it. It sounds utterly exhausting.

ScreamScreamIceCream · 02/04/2019 14:42

OP if the agreement is too fuzzy and you have an email or sms message where she says the grandparents can't take them, then you need to go back to mediation then court if necessary for clarification on that specific issue.

Palaver1 · 04/04/2019 06:18

You should get this sorted now you know exactly how impractical it’s become you will need to do it legally Mediation maybe but I would get it sorted
Don’t put it off

Comet456 · 04/04/2019 06:28

I couldn’t bear the thought of my DCs flying unaccompanied so using grandparents as chaperones would be the only compromise I would ever make. I still think of that poor little boy who died in the Air France plane crash on his way back to school from South America Sad

Springwalk · 04/04/2019 06:28

Dealing with child visits between the UK and ME is a nightmare due to the distance mainly. Obviously their home is in the UK, as well as their schools.

I would focus on moving back to the UK asap, as you have already said you are looking for a job etc. This is the only solution.

Shuttling the children between the UK and Dubai is not conducive in the long term, and you may find once the novelty wears off the children will no longer want to go to Dubai. Also once they are older, exams, sports commitments and friends will mean they will come less.

I would think she is worried about the children travelling that distance either alone or with people she does not feel entirely comfortable with, and possibly she can not afford the flights herself.

Move to the UK and this problem goes away. I would put my energies into finding a job rather than battling with her.

stucknoue · 05/04/2019 21:43

At their age is perfectly reasonable to book them in with the BA unaccompanied minors service (it's from age 5) when we lived in the US there was always multiple minors on the flight near me as they seated them at the front of economy (where the bassinet seats are). They were well looked after and all seemed like seasoned travellers - one young lady (12ish) told me she did it 3 times a year.

GaraMedouar · 06/04/2019 08:11

They are 10 and 12 so quite capable of travelling unaccompanied, being met at the other end. I certainly would have at that age, and would have hated to have 'had' to be babysat. You know your children though.

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