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at crossroads

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
This may be long and I apologize. Please feel free to move it to a more appropriate area, moderators.

My husband and I have two children. We were living abroad for the summer and when we returned to the United States, he was detained and deported -- he had never filled out all of his citizenship application papers. I have been doing research about applying for a hardship visa. However, in the past few weeks I have found out that he has a fairly lengthy criminal record (mostly substance abuse) here from before I met him and a bunch of debt that he had not told me about. The debt is from within the past two years, but he was having the statements sent to a relative, so I didn't know about them, either.

While we were living in his home country, my children were exposed to tribal warfare and did not go to school or learn any of his language/culture. My husband spent little time with the children in his home country. He spent most of his time out of the house alone and when he returned, he was often drinking to excess or using some other substance to alter his mood.

My youngest does not sleep well at night and keeps asking if there are bombs (this is a toddler). In addition to the larger issues above, there were new marital issues -- he encouraged my personal and financial isolation in his home country.

My mama bear instincts are to keep my kids here where they are safe and stable and to consider looking into legally separating myself from their father financially and physically. However, my dh says over and over it is like "Not Without My Daughter" in reverse and begs me to bring the children back to him. Logically, I know that much of his situation is due to his own irresponsibility and that I need to do what is ultimately in the best interest of our children. I don't know why, though, but I feel guilty.

I would really appreciate advice/feedback from any of you who have been in similar situations.
post #2 of 40


couldn't read and not post.

I haven't been in a situation such as yours (thankfully), so I can't offer any BTDT. However, we both know it's clearly *not* "Not without my daughter" in reverse!

He was deported due to his own negligence re: paperwork + criminal record!!! Furthermore, his home country is clearly unsafe for your family (warfare!!!). Moreover, when he was there with his children, he didn't interact with them an abused drugs! So. . . really.... I honestly don't even think this is a question.

You need to stay where your children are safe!!!
post #3 of 40
Can you tell us what country this is? This would make a big difference to me- what are the rights of women there, what are the diplomatic relations like with the U.S. (or are you Canadian?), is there a decent chance that the warfare will end or not, etc.

All this stuff, frankly, would be more important to me than debt and drinking... not that that stuff isn't important! But that stuff is generally handled the same no matter where you are.
post #4 of 40
I can't say I've been in your situation, but the whole scenario with returning to his country doesn't sound safe. From his isolating you, to warfare, no way would I return my children to an unstable region, and I don't think you should feel pressured for a second that you should. His lies, criminal history and lack of interest in the kids are also big red flags and I don't think have much place in a marriage in a country where there isn't warfare, let alone one where there is.
post #5 of 40
Quote:
However, my dh says over and over it is like "Not Without My Daughter" in reverse and begs me to bring the children back to him.
That is such bunk.

Due to his criminal behavior and irresponsibility, he is separated from his children. He has absolutely no right as a father to demand that you bring your children into a physically dangerous and violent situation. Clearly it is not so much about his children's welfare as his own feelings. Reasonable people do whatever they can to remove their children from unstable and dangerous situations, often at great personal sacrifice. He wants to bring them there? How selfish.

I think it is terribly sad for a family to be separated and generally I'm not an advocate for that. However, this is something he is entirely responsible for himself, and IMO it is his responsibility to do what he needs to do in order to bring his family back together, without putting you all in danger.

Is there a "compromise country" that would take him, and where you could live together as a family safely.

As for the guilt, dump it. Guilt is something you should feel when you've done something wrong. And you haven't. But it's perfectly reasonable to feel sadness for all of this. It is sad that your family isn't together. It's sad that your husband has such poor character. Sad that your children have been traumatized.
post #6 of 40
Thread Starter 
First, thanks for all your advice, mamas.

I have been purposefully vague about our whereabouts in case my dh does happen to remember me mentioning reading this site.

I'm in the US and he is in the Middle East (hence his NWMD reference).

"Is there a "compromise country" that would take him, and where you could live together as a family safely. "

We had considered this idea, but he has been refused entry to Canada and England and I'm not sure what his chances are for finding a place that will accept his visa application.

Frankly, though, the past month's surprises coupled with dh's behavior at home have made me less enthusiastic about taking that step into another unknown. I am feeling like my kids have been through enough and if I can find a good job here and build a stable environment for them, that takes priority over any *one* person's needs.

Thanks, above all, for listening. It really helps. I have read so many interesting and wise posts from the community here in this and other forums.
post #7 of 40
You have a responsibility to keep your children safe, and I would never feel guilty about that. His lies and conduct are very unsettling. I hope that you aren't found to be responsible for his debt. I think that depends on your state. I would get myself a good lawyer and allow contact via phone/email/mail as long as it is beneficial to the children.
post #8 of 40
I'm relatively new here too, but I had to respond to this, since it is something I have discussed with others in similar situations before.

I would not, under any circumstances, take your children to him. The chances that he could keep them from you permanently are very high. Do some research about international custody battles and find out if your husband's country has ratified the Hague Convention. If not, your husband can keep your children in his country and there would be pretty much nothing you could do to get them back. It is my understanding that very few middle eastern countries have ratified it, so be very careful. Also keep in mind that many middle eastern countries will not allow your children to leave the country without their father's explicit permission. I don't know what citizenship your children have, which may affect this. Perhaps it would be safe to take them on visits if you accompany them, but research carefully before going back there again.

It is sad that your husband's actions will deny him access to his children, but I would not take them back there for the time being. It is too big a risk.

I'm an expat living in China, this country has not ratified the Hague Convention either and my husband is Chinese. Luckily we have a very strong marriage, and I don't anticipate anything happening, but these laws are something that anyone involved in an international relationship should be aware of.
post #9 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelocaldialect View Post
I'm relatively new here too, but I had to respond to this, since it is something I have discussed with others in similar situations before.

I would not, under any circumstances, take your children to him. The chances that he could keep them from you permanently are very high. Do some research about international custody battles and find out if your husband's country has ratified the Hague Convention. If not, your husband can keep your children in his country and there would be pretty much nothing you could do to get them back. It is my understanding that very few middle eastern countries have ratified it, so be very careful. Also keep in mind that many middle eastern countries will not allow your children to leave the country without their father's explicit permission. I don't know what citizenship your children have, which may affect this. Perhaps it would be safe to take them on visits if you accompany them, but research carefully before going back there again.

It is sad that your husband's actions will deny him access to his children, but I would not take them back there for the time being. It is too big a risk.

I'm an expat living in China, this country has not ratified the Hague Convention either and my husband is Chinese. Luckily we have a very strong marriage, and I don't anticipate anything happening, but these laws are something that anyone involved in an international relationship should be aware of.

Thank you for your advice and support. His country does recognize the Hague Convention, but it also gives the religious courts authority over "personal and family" issues. Technically, the Hague Convention is supposed to take precedence over the religious courts, but I think there could be other roadblocks if the children were physically present in his country. The children do have dual citizenship, so they are not supposed to leave his country on American passports, which is fairly common. However, only he can apply for their passports there and if their passports are "lost" or expired, then I have to trust that he will do the right thing for them. Fortunately, I do not need his permission to travel with them as long as I have the correct passports.

Like other mamas have posted, though, his other behavior throws up red flags no matter where we are living. I think I needed to hear from people not familiar with either of us and not in the midst of the situation to see that mine is not necessarily a knee-jerk reaction. I just think now that they are in a safe, stable place with the beginnings of a normal routine, why destroy it on the *chance* their father is going to come around and be responsible from here on out.

Again, thanks to you and the other mamas for your feedback and thoughts.
post #10 of 40
I would take the international part of the issue out and see what it changes.

Let's say the story read:
I was in DH home state of Ohio, and when we left to return the the state of New York where I was raised, the parol officer that I didn't know about informed him that he had to stay in Ohio.

Assume the behavior on his part is the same, and that he lives in an extremely dangerous neiborhood.

Does how you feel change? If it doesn't see a lawyer about ending contact.

If you would want your DH to still be part of you lives in the Ohio scenario, then start looking for a workable solution. An imigration lawyer to help get your DH a visa, or find a safe alternative country you could live in, or have him visit with the kids in (maybe Mexico.)
post #11 of 40
*warm hugs* Oh sweetie, I feel for you so much! Although I've never been in your situation, I can just imagine how difficult it must be for you. I get the feeling that you already know what to do. Only you can know in your heart if this man truly loves you and your children and will put you first. That's what you deserve. You're strong enough to do what you know in your heart is right. Have faith in yourself! You'll get through this difficult time! Remember you're not alone and you have more support than you know!
post #12 of 40
I have not been in your situation either but I would like to express my sincere sympathy.

I do feel sad for your husband who no doubt feels he is the victim in this scenario- of fate, of the government, of your decision. But he is NOT the victim. He is making excuses for himself. It is sad but true.

I agree that your only options are to leave it to him to enter the country, or to find a third country. My third-country suggestions are Turkey or Dubai. If he's from the mideast he might be able to get visas there.

However, I would only do that if you two are not married and if you obtain sole custody of the children beforehand. Because although Turkey and Dubai can be relied upon to actually implement the Hague conventions (unlike some signatories that do not really have rule of law), they are easy to leave and enter (hence my suggestion) and also if he is the legal father, remember that he has rights under that convention, too.

Try to obtain sole custody first, through the U.S. courts, and insofar as possible have this noted in the "notes" section of their passports if at all possible. Take another adult with you.

If he is an alcoholic, and it sounds that he is, he could come to any meeting drunk or under the influence of drugs. If that were to happen, you know that at that moment he is not the man you thought you knew and you cannot trust him at all. So you need backup. I know it sounds awful but sadly, even with parents with no criminal record, there are terrible stories.

post #13 of 40
That situation would really scare me! The fact that he basically became a different person towards you in his country would be a huge red flag to me.

NO WAY would I go back there. This does not sound like someone who is willing to put you and your children (and your mental and physical safety) first.

Strength to you... it must be really hard.
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
You are all so helpful and supportive. I think the logical advice from people like Jessica and EdnaMarie are very helpful because I am stressed out enough that details might very well slip past me (i.e. the idea of seeing if I can have their passports amended following any legal action).

Hoping that the good karma and supportive thoughts you've given me will return to you all ten-fold:
post #15 of 40
Thread Starter 

Update

In my heart, I want to leave. My H suspects this, but does not know that I have made any research into it. He is waiting for me to file papers on his behalf for a visa application. He calls every day to talk to the kids and asks me about this every time. I don't know if I should file them and have on record that I made an attempt on his behalf or if I should not file and evade his questions. (I sort of feel like he had plenty of opportunities to file when he was here and didn't. Also, if I go through with a divorce, it would make my application as a direct relative null.)

I asked him about the debt he racked up, but he is vague about where the money went.

He keeps asking if the stability in the U.S. is worth the kids not having their dad. Again, I think, he had plenty of opportunities to be a "dad" here and in his home country and didn't really come through on that.

On the kids' part, they seem really happy here and hardly ask about their father. They both have friends and a routine and I have no doubt that it is hard to be in a single-parent family at times, but that the stability is needed.

Thanks for listening.
post #16 of 40
I can't imagine how difficult this must be for you all.

I wouldn't go back to him, especially now that he's accusing you of a NWMD scenario and in light of his actions towards you in the past...he could try to take revenge by taking off with the kids himself. Is it possible that he will eventually get himself back into the states? Although I don't agree with his actions or think he's a model dad, I hope you can find a way that they can at least still have some contact. It sounds like even if he can't be a good dad, he does care about his kids and I think that is worth something.

The whole situation sounds painful. Hope you find a good balance and of course keep yourself and your kiddos safe.
post #17 of 40
I'm so sorry. As we are also facing separation (and I really don't believe in divorce except for the well-being of the children), I ask myself constantly- is it worth it for her to be without her dad? But... you know...he still spent our weekend together half the time on the computer. It would probably be the same with your ex-partner. I too hope they continue to speak by telephone and that you can meet in a third country, but don't do the visa. Really. Suppose you want to sponsor later and this is on your record??? He is not well. Stability? You spoke of tribal warfare. We are talking life and limb!

Evade the questions. He should get the point. If he asks you directly, say you are too busy. It is sad but ultimately it is his fault.
post #18 of 40
I would absolutely not feel bad about refusing to go or to take your children to a war zone. They need to be safe. You need to be safe. That is the absolute bottom line.

Secondly, your husband's conduct is not the conduct of a responsible adult taking care of his family. Lying about debt, a criminal record that suddenly comes to light, failing to file vital paperwork, ignoring you and his children while you are in his country, drinking or using drugs too much... that's a lot of irresponsible behavior. He does not sound ready or capable of fully participating in a functional family, all of which is compounded by the political or tribal problems in his home country.

I don't know what I would do about filing paperwork for him. I would probably contact an immigration lawyer to walk me through all the legal ramifications, especially if I was considering separation or divorce. I would document all the behavior that you described during your visit to his country.

Perhaps, once things settle down, you could arrange visits in a third country (Turkey and Dubai are probably good options) but I wouldn't go alone, and I would have tons of paperwork to document custody, etc. Once again, I would work closely with a lawyer to make sure I would be able to take my children back safely and legally.

Your kid's safety and well-being is your FIRST and most important responsibility. It sounds to me like your DH has abdicated his responsibilities and does not deserve your trust. It's up to him to work to get his issues resolved.

I'm so sorry you are going through this, it sounds like a nightmare.

Another thought: for your children to learn the language and culture of their father I am certain that in the US you could find a community so they could learn the language, the food, the culture, etc. I would make that a priority too, it's so sad when children are cut off from half of their heritage.
post #19 of 40
Thread Starter 
"Another thought: for your children to learn the language and culture of their father I am certain that in the US you could find a community so they could learn the language, the food, the culture, etc. I would make that a priority too, it's so sad when children are cut off from half of their heritage."

This is a good point and something I need to remember in my anger and resentment toward their father, Marylizah. There are fairly big communities in this area and around our state, so I should keep them involved. I did bring home some language books, too. Even though I don't speak well or have a good accent, it's better than nothing, right?

EdnaMarie, I hope things get better for you and your family as well.

All of you make a good point about bringing another adult along if we find a neutral country for visitation. That is something I have to think about and research very carefully.

I did check with USCIS and they said if I were to file the paperwork and we did divorce, the application would have to be recalled anyway. It would be a waste of money I need for the kids right now and my husband isn't working in his home country, so I don't expect any financial help from his end.
post #20 of 40
I'm glad to see you're coming to be at peace with your decision.

The above advice is very sound. If you wish to file for divorce, try to find a good family lawyer that has experience handling international cases. I would make it clear to him that you have no intention of keeping him from his children, but that visitation will be handled according to the divorce settlement. For now, it seems like visitation in a neutral third country would be the best idea.

I wouldn't file the paperwork for him. There's a high probability he'll be turned down and I wouldn't want a rejected application in my name on my record. Like you say, any application you made on his behalf would be void if you later filed for divorce, so it seems like applying for his visa would just be a way of getting him off your back for now, but wouldn't actually solve any problems. It might actually cause more problems later on down the road, so I wouldn't sponsor him unless you are pretty sure you want to be with him, married, in America. Since it sounds like that's not the case it seems like you have your answer, as hard as it might be to tell him that.

I'm so sorry you are going through all of this, I know it must be hard, but it sounds to me like you're making the best decision for your kids and yourself. Stay strong!
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