I am just looking for a place where I can hopefully either get some advice or get this off my chest!
I have a 3 year old daughter whose father left us very unexpectedly last May. He walked out the day before my house was going to go on the market as he just didn't love me anymore. We were going to move to Ireland to be together as a family as that is where he comes from (he's building a house there). Thankfully this happened before we moved and my house is still in my name! He now works in America for 7-8 weeks at a time then goes back to Ireland (to stay with his mother as the house he is builidng is still mostly field as it has been for over 5 years). He then rents a holiday cottage/caravan/teepee in Scotland, where I live, for 4 days to a week and has my daughter live with him there so that she can attend playgroup and come home if she needs to. He pays maintenance and he obviously loves his daughter for which I am totally grateful for. However, the problem is that he is constantly asking me if he can take my daughter to Ireland so that he can 'get things done' and I just can't bring myself to let her go as I believe that she is too young. He actually tried to bribe me by offering me a weekend away in London! I have offered to go with her but he doesn't seem too keen on that idea at all. Someone please tell me that I'm not being paranoid by thinking that he'll take her and not bring her home? I have spent several evenings on the internet trying to find some advice but to no avail. Am I the only one who thinks that a father who sees his daughter for one week in approx 16 is not capable of looking after her so far away from home. I have to add that he stays on his mother's living room floor when he is there so how can he think of taking my dauther there???
If there is anyone who can either reassure me or agree with me?
Personally, I don't think you're paranoid at all. I also know that this post isn't particularly helpful.
I can't really say that he's not able to look after your daughter, as you know if she's happy enough being with him.
I would suggest that you see if CAB can give you advice, or see if you are able to have a free half an hour appointment with a solicitor who specialises in family law. If he had a home in Britain, he could apply - and probably would be allowed - for a Court order to have his daughter spend time at his home. I'm not sure how things stand with him wanting to take her to Ireland.
How long is he wanting to take her to Ireland for?
I know I wouldn't be happy about it.
Hello poppy biker
Sounds like you are very worried, and that is understandable. You seem to have two main concerns, firstly that it will not be suitable for your daughter to go and stay and secondly that he will not bring your daughter back.With regard to the first one, he is obviously prepared to put himsself out considerably to see his daughter and the bit about the living room floor needn't be an issue, she will view it as an adventure. Also she will be able to see her Grandma and other family in Ireland and he will have their support in caring for her...perhaps more than you think, as if he want to "get things done", does this mean to progress the house-building?.. in which case he will not be with your daughter 24/7....but from his point of view it means that he can make some progress in his non-work time and still see his daughter. It's totally up to you but it might feel more comfortable for you if you insist on going over just the first time (whether he likes it or not) You could say that it is just to reassure yourself and with a view to her visiting alone in the future. I have to say that if he took legal action it is likely that he would get the parenting time he wishes for (just speaking from experience here) so it would seem to be in your best interests to keep it out of the legal system and inisit on visiting with her the first time, stressing that it is the first step in her visiting routine.
The second concern is more complicated and not something I can give you any definitive information about except to suggest you consult a solicitor. As Sparkling lime says, many give the first 30 minutes free. See http://www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk/index.jsp for a list of family law advisers in your area; just type in your location in the box marked "find an adviser" on the left. There are certain regulations governing how long a child can be out of the country without the permission of the other person holding parental responsibility and a solicitor will be able to tell you what exactly applies to you and your daughter.
it's a difficult situation and I do feel for you as you clearly want the very best for your daughter and maybe if her dad can be made to understand that's where you're coming from, rather than from a desire to hamper their relationship, then he might be persuaded to take things at your pace.
Louise gave the link to Community Legal Advice, I would also like to offer http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com, both of these websites will support you with legalities.
This is a very difficult and personal decision, only you can weigh up the pros and cons, I'm afraid. (always good to write them down!)
It is completely understandable that you worry about your 3 year old going that far away, but it does sound like you trust him to look after her, but I definitely agree with you going along for the first time, not for your sake but for your daughters, if she usually spends all her time with you and playgroup etc, then it could be really disconcerting for her to go somewhere where nothing is familiar to her.
She is still very young and if she has only seen him once every sixteen weeks, how well does she know him? If he wants to take her to Ireland so he can get on with the house, then is he saying he wants her there so he can spend quality time with her, or he just wants her around?? Louise makes the point that his mum may well be looking after her most of the time (hopefully really, as a building site is not the safest place for a 3 year old!) this is a positive thing for your daughter as she gets to know her paternal grandparent. Or does it mean that he gets to hang out with her when he's not busy and his mum has to do all the menial tasks? (Just asking!?)
Louise answered your post fully, but I just wanted to add, although he sounds like a decent chap and he provides maintenance and visits when he can, please don't be grateful that he loves his daughter.....It is a childs right to be loved by their parents and it is his duty as a father. He let you down and radically changed your future, don't let your gratefulness influence your decision!
Thank you so much for your replies, it has helped me a lot.
A bit of history - my ex used to work 2 weeks offshore and 2 weeks onshore, 5 or6 days of that were spent in Ireland and so my daughter is used to seeing her father for short intervals but it does mean that he gives her everything she wants and doesn't have a routine with her so she is always exhausted when she sees him. He is 41, has never been married and has no other children (our relationship lasted 5 years and that is the longest he has ever been with anyone). When my daughter was born I asked him to sign a legal form to say that he had full parental rights (in 2003 this was required if the parents were not married and the father wanted to be recognised by law) but he refused as he hates solicitors (he believes they are money grabbing ?/*).
He has asked me quite a few times to let my daughter go to Ireland and each time I have told him that she can as long as I go too but he does not want that. His mother is maternal as a brick and thinks that children shouldn't eat fruit as it rots in their stomachs and that they should have chocolate as it's good for them and although she obviously likes my daughter she never gives her cuddles. My ex has 2 sisters and a brother who live with his mother aged 21,23 and 40 but they treat my daughter like a toy to be taken all over the place to be shown off. I must add that my ex's mother had 6 children but had her mother and her aunt living with them and they did most of the bringing up of the children according to my ex. He also told me that they used to get beaten by her quite regularly. No guessing why I am so worried about this huh? I have no doubts that he will go to the building site which is over two hours away from his mother's house and she will be left with them.
I have asked him to sign a legal document to say that he will bring her back into the country but I have been told that this would not assure her return and it could take months to get her back should he refuse to bring her back.
I also have a son who is nearly 17 and I left his father when he was 6. I have worked through loads of problems with his father and his new wife (she told my son that she hated me for leaving his father! What!) and have always made sure that my son knows that his father is a good man even when I wanted to batter him! He is now well over 6', long haired, heavy metal bass guitar who has a job with the local chuch youth minister. I have been told that he is a very grounded boy who is wise for his years. He assured me recently that I did everything right which was reasurring.
I guess Anna is right, it is so theraputic to write it all down and share it with people who understand.
One more wee things before I bore everyone rigid. My daughter's father has had a drink problem for a long time and the only time he doesn't drink is when he has his daugther for a week. I went to alanon for some time and that helped me to understand it. He has never been in trouble with drinking but the first time my daughter stayed with him she wet the bed two nights in a row which has never happened before or since and I think it may have been because he didn't wake up to hear her.
I think I had better stop now or I am in danger of writing a novel :lol:
Thank you for all your good advise x
Hi again poppy biker
Thank you for sharing. I am sure it helps....and I would also like to say that it helps other people to know they're not alone and they can benefit from your experience. Your son sounds a wonderful young man and how fab that you have been able to discuss it all with him as to how you handled it. :D You also seem to be saying that you have been very tolerant of your son's father and therefore you are trying to be as fair as possible with this new situation.
I can quite understand your concerns about your daughter and that only makes me say again, insist you go with her, and do check on the law as to him needing your written permission to take her out of the country.
Keep posting and we can keep giving our support
I agree. Insist you go too.
I have to say I am in this exact situation atm. I took advice from a solicitor who told me that as young as the child is, she is too young to be away from her mum for any period of time (where its not poss to hop in a car and bring her home)
My daughter is 4 and sees her father very little, and I will not let her go over atm. When she is older and understands she will be away from you it'll be more ideal.
I understand the thoughts re taking her and not bringing her back too, I have them all the time. Just remember if he ever did that he would lose parental rights to the child.
Keep your chin up and stay firm... if he wants to see her, he has to visit her until she is older!
My daughter's father is about to leave for the middle east in a week or so time and is ment to be working 2 months there 1 month here, which i am not looking forward to as it is hard enough to get him to see her anyway with all the work he does but i dont know how to work it when he gets back i would be interested to know how you arranged your visiting arrangement and if anyone has information on how you claim child maintenacne from a parent abroad as i currently dont get any from him?
Everyone varies with their parenting arrangements when one parent lives abroad and one factor is the age of the child. Maybe someone with direct experience can give their point of view on this?
One thing I can tell you is that unless Charlotte's dad is in the forces, is a civil servant or is employed by a Uk company (although posted overseas) then the Child Support Agency cannot help if he works abroad. You would need to get a court order, see http://www.csa.gov.uk/en/setup/apply-from-abroad.asp for details.
- Local Support
- Your Ex