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Should I let STBX take dd out of the country?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I just got an email from STBX saying that he wants (he wasn't asking, just informing) to take dd to his home country of England over our spring break which is in two weeks.

I feel uneasy about this and unsure what I should do. I know that legally I can forbid this. But should I? Some background:

STBX is crazy angry at me for ending our marriage. I have hurt him deeply and he is incredibly bitter now. On the one hand I understand it (I have done things that I regret and have betrayed him--although I don't regret ending the marriage I do regret the way I went about certain things, but that's another thread!) but on the other hand, this situation makes me feel really estranged from him and like I can't trust him because I think he could want to do something bad just to get back at me. Maybe not, but I don't know and that's the point. He's also an alcoholic (rather highly functioning) and has never been terribly involved as a parent, although he loves dd very much I know. He currently sees her two evenings a week, sometimes slightly less. She is in daycare during those days.

The other thing is that dd is only 2.75 years old. She has never been away from me longer than two nights, and that only happened twice, over the summer. She is comfortable with her dad (and she'd also be with her grandparents in England) but I do worry a bit that she'd be scared and miss me too much if she was away longer than a couple of nights.

But then I don't know if that's fair of me. If I'm scared of him not bringing her back (I'm not REALLY, but the fear is there in the back of my head), when, if ever, do I let that go? Because I have to let him take her SOMETIME, all his family is there! And if it's the age, well, what IS a good age for her to be away from me? Is she too young now or am I just being overly sensitive?

Also, are there any legal things I should be thinking about with him taking her?

I just don't know if I should put my foot down on this or if I should let go of my worries and let him take her because if not now then when?

Thoughts? TIA!
post #2 of 30
First, I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. Divorce is hard on all parties involved.

Second, I think you should trust that voice in the back of your head. If you have even the smallest doubt that your daughter will come home, I would absolutely forbid it. You can even notify U.S. customs that your STBX might try to take the child out of country, and you can let them know he does not have your permission.

I'm sorry to hear he has family in the U.K., and I understand the desire to draw close to family in a time like this. However, they can come here, or you can travel with your daughter to the U.K. yourself. Letting her go with your permission opens up too many opportunities for custodial interference/kidnapping.

Something else to consider...Do you have formal custody arrangements with the court or is current visitation just an agreement between you and STBX? If it's the latter, now might be a good time to have a formal agreement written up in case he does manage to take her out of the country and tries to claim custodianship in England.

ETA: I was raised by a high-functioning alcoholic, and it was a very difficult upbringing. You are doing the right thing looking out for your daughter. Don't let your guilt over your actions interfere with the good judgment you have as a parent.
post #3 of 30
I would say "no" because she is so young. The other points of concern are also valid. If you can't trust him, you can't trust him.

I wouldn't want my DD to travel without me like that until I was confident that she would be able to advocate for herself. Not just being able to say, "I want to call Mom". But if something happened and your STBX decided to keep her there I would think it would be best that your DD be old enough to understand what is going on and how to get help for herself.

I had a friend with a very standard divorce/custody arrangement. The father was not a US citizen at the time and it was put in the papers that when the child was 10yo she could travel overseas with her father without the mother. For me, I think that is probably a bit young, but that could be specific to my case. My X actually did threaten to kidnap my DD, so that's why I'm so leery of these kind of trips.

Does your DD already have a passport? If not I'd get it and put it in a safe deposit box or something. Also I'd look into the laws between the US and UK regarding non-custodial parental child abduction. Between these two countries there might be some really good laws. But better to be informed ahead of time if you decide to allow the trip.

I'm sure there is more that others will bring for you to consider.
post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geigerin View Post
First, I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. Divorce is hard on all parties involved.

Second, I think you should trust that voice in the back of your head. If you have even the smallest doubt that your daughter will come home, I would absolutely forbid it. You can even notify U.S. customs that your STBX might try to take the child out of country, and you can let them know he does not have your permission.

I'm sorry to hear he has family in the U.K., and I understand the desire to draw close to family in a time like this. However, they can come here, or you can travel with your daughter to the U.K. yourself. Letting her go with your permission opens up too many opportunities for custodial interference/kidnapping.

Something else to consider...Do you have formal custody arrangements with the court or is current visitation just an agreement between you and STBX? If it's the latter, now might be a good time to have a formal agreement written up in case he does manage to take her out of the country and tries to claim custodianship in England.
Oh, good point, Geigeren! We don't have have a formal, legal custody arrangement yet so there's another (extremely persuasive!) reason not to let him take her! Thank you for raising this point!
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theia View Post
I would say "no" because she is so young. The other points of concern are also valid. If you can't trust him, you can't trust him.

I wouldn't want my DD to travel without me like that until I was confident that she would be able to advocate for herself. Not just being able to say, "I want to call Mom". But if something happened and your STBX decided to keep her there I would think it would be best that your DD be old enough to understand what is going on and how to get help for herself.

I had a friend with a very standard divorce/custody arrangement. The father was not a US citizen at the time and it was put in the papers that when the child was 10yo she could travel overseas with her father without the mother. For me, I think that is probably a bit young, but that could be specific to my case. My X actually did threaten to kidnap my DD, so that's why I'm so leery of these kind of trips.

Does your DD already have a passport? If not I'd get it and put it in a safe deposit box or something. Also I'd look into the laws between the US and UK regarding non-custodial parental child abduction. Between these two countries there might be some really good laws. But better to be informed ahead of time if you decide to allow the trip.

I'm sure there is more that others will bring for you to consider.
Good points here, too, Theia, thank you! Fortunately, I do already have her passport here in my home and STBX does not have access to it.

Like I said, I don't *think* he'd ever try to kidnap since he's never been a terribly involved parent and can't handle the responsibility but I just don't know...he's SOOOO angry and so I feel almost like I don't know him. You also raise a good point about her not being able to advocate for herself.
post #6 of 30
I would be very careful as long as he is so angry. At this point I would make sure all visitation was scheduled and agreed upon in writing. When he has proven that he can keep such a regular schedule and take good care of her - and when he has proven that he can act mature and not involve or use your DD against you or as a part in the conflict between the two of you then I think is a better time to consider him taking her abroad. I think it IS reasonable of him to expect to be able to take her to visit his family abroad. If I lived abroad and divorced I would definately want to occationally bring my kids back "home" to visit my family etc. But it sounds to me like you need more certainty that he wont do anything rash, trying to get back at you.
Don't underrestimate anger. Until he is more balanced I would be very cautious. But also - that he hasn't been an involved parent in the past doesnt mean he wont be one in the future. It is a new situation. Maybe you can start a process towards them becoming more attached by allowing visitation for longer periods of time so they have time to get a closer bond. Ofcourse only if you believe her to be safe - physically and emotionally - in his care.
post #7 of 30
I think 2.75 years is terribly young to go overseas with a parent that until now she only really sees 2 nights a week. Also, I don't know anything about your Ex or his fam, but even if he wouldn't consciously do anything, or plan to do anything, with his family whispering in his ear in his home country it could put him in a position where he doesn't want to back down if he wants to keep her there.

I would not allow my DS away from me for 2 weeks at that age. I would not allow him overseas without me until he was a teen or at an age where he knew he could go to the US embassy and call me to get him.

Trust your gut - especially since you don't have a formal custody arrangement. I second the idea of notifying customs that your DD is not allowed to leave the country. Also, just b/c you have the passport doesn't mean he can't order another copy, right?
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thank you all again for your responses. You are quite right, New_Natural_mom, that STBX could easily order another copy and so if I decide not to let him take her your suggestion (as another PP mentioned) that I let the embassy know is a wise one.

I should add, though, another sort of wrinkle in this mess: *I* would like to take dd out of the country! STBX and I both love to travel but what's more, I have a lot of friends and family in Canada as well as in Spain and I am planning trips to both places within the next year or two.

Of course I trust myself and I know that I would NEVER EVER EVER kidnap dd and take her away from STBX--but *he* doesn't know that. But while I don't think STBX would do it, either (I really don't)...I don't *know*--AND I worry about her being away from me that long because I have been her primary caregiver since birth.

The mistrust is exhausting. It's like a game of chicken and I just wish we could move past it.

But I'm afraid that if I say no to him that he will say no when *I* ask to go to Canada or Spain just out of spite (not that I'd even blame him!). And the thought of never going to those places to visit family is impossible to consider.

*sigh.* I do have dear friend who is a divorce attorney and has been helping me a lot--perhaps I will ask him what his *legal* opinion of the situation is. And I will continue to consider the other things that you all bring up. Thanks again!
post #9 of 30
DO NOT LET HIM GO!!!!! DO NOT!!! I didn't read the other posts, I'll go back and read.

Get a court order stating that he can't leave the country with you DD - especially since there is no formal custody arrangement. Keep her passport if you have one - or figure out how to stop her from leaving the country if your ex has it.

ETA - I would also get a lawyer, and not use a friend that is a divorce attorney - you don't want to put them in an awkward position and unless you are paying them they probably aren't spending a lot of time on your case.

Also, yes, your ex can block you from leaving the country with you DD, and out of spite or not, he can do it. But, you also can't take your DD anywhere with you if your ex kidnaps her to England. I still wouldn't let your dd out of the country with him - not until she's old enough to fly back on her own.
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by La Sombra View Post
Good points here, too, Theia, thank you! Fortunately, I do already have her passport here in my home and STBX does not have access to it.

Like I said, I don't *think* he'd ever try to kidnap since he's never been a terribly involved parent and can't handle the responsibility but I just don't know...he's SOOOO angry and so I feel almost like I don't know him. You also raise a good point about her not being able to advocate for herself.
Is it her US passport (or whatever country you are from)? And how hard would it be for him to get her a British passport if he was determined enough? Is there a way to prevent that?
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2lilsweetfoxes View Post
Is it her US passport (or whatever country you are from)? And how hard would it be for him to get her a British passport if he was determined enough? Is there a way to prevent that?
I don't know anything about the British passport. But it is my understanding that if 2 parents are on the birth certificate of a minor, then it is required to have both parents present for an application for a US passport. I can't get one for my DD because of this. (I also don't have a finalized custody arrangement, but it's in the works) So I would think that if you already have her US passport and it's in a safe place, then that base is covered. If her father is a dual citizen I would definitely check into his ability to obtain a foreign passport for your DD.

http://travel.state.gov/passport/get...inors_834.html

I agree with the other posters. I would get a lawyer of your own, have your friend maybe recommend one. Maybe you could try mediation first to see if STBX would come to reason. But get something legal. In some states if you don't have a legal custody arrangement both parents have the same rights regardless of who has been primary caregiver up to this point. Meaning technically he could decide he wanted to be primary caregiver and keep your DD with him only allowing you visitation. I'm not trying to scare you, but this was a legal point made to me by a lawyer in my state.
post #12 of 30
ummmm, NO!

She is not even three yet. and he is angry. I htink a little more time needs to pass before trips out of the country happen.
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by La Sombra View Post
Thank you all again for your responses. You are quite right, New_Natural_mom, that STBX could easily order another copy and so if I decide not to let him take her your suggestion (as another PP mentioned) that I let the embassy know is a wise one.

I should add, though, another sort of wrinkle in this mess: *I* would like to take dd out of the country! STBX and I both love to travel but what's more, I have a lot of friends and family in Canada as well as in Spain and I am planning trips to both places within the next year or two.

Of course I trust myself and I know that I would NEVER EVER EVER kidnap dd and take her away from STBX--but *he* doesn't know that. But while I don't think STBX would do it, either (I really don't)...I don't *know*--AND I worry about her being away from me that long because I have been her primary caregiver since birth.

The mistrust is exhausting. It's like a game of chicken and I just wish we could move past it.

But I'm afraid that if I say no to him that he will say no when *I* ask to go to Canada or Spain just out of spite (not that I'd even blame him!). And the thought of never going to those places to visit family is impossible to consider.

*sigh.* I do have dear friend who is a divorce attorney and has been helping me a lot--perhaps I will ask him what his *legal* opinion of the situation is. And I will continue to consider the other things that you all bring up. Thanks again!
I don't think either one of you should take her out of the country without a formal, legal custody agreement that spells out the logistics of international travel.
post #14 of 30
Is there any possibility that you could go with them? That way, she could visit but she wouldn't miss you.

I think if you expect him to let you take DD out of the country, you should respond the same way to him. Maybe not this time, but in the future. It will probably help once things calm down and you have a formal agreement in place.
post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah W View Post
Is there any possibility that you could go with them? That way, she could visit but she wouldn't miss you.

I think if you expect him to let you take DD out of the country, you should respond the same way to him. Maybe not this time, but in the future. It will probably help once things calm down and you have a formal agreement in place.
Absolutely, Sarah, I agree! It breaks my heart, in a way, to have to tell him no because I know how important it is for him to show her where he's from and for his family to see her. I don't want to prevent that.

But I think the advice given by many here is sound: until we have a formal custody agreement and, quite frankly, until his anger is somewhat less volcanic, it might be unwise of me to agree to let her go.

I understand his anger, and mostly it seems totally justified. But it doesn't mean that it doesn't scare me or make me feel like I can't trust him because I think he's going to try to do something to get back at me.

We both just need time to heal some wounds to get the trust back because until then we are both sort of hurting ourselves by being so mistrusting of the other. But I don't feel I have another choice right now.
post #16 of 30
There is no well in h** I would let my stbx take my kid out of the country considering the circumstances you described.

Don't do it.
post #17 of 30

NO, no, no, no and no

Do NOT let him take your child out of the country under any circumstances.
I have a similar situation. The kids reside with me and the stbx is European. I have been advised by some extremely intellegent and knowing people (my EXCELLENT psychologist and my EXCELLENT lawyer) that I should not even begin to entertain the possibility of the kids leaving the country with him. It is also not ok for you to go with them to England. You are not British (I assume) and you will have fewer rights than your husband in England.
When STBX visits the children where we live all my documents go into a safe deposit box. The kids passports are put in a safe that is not in my home. (I am an American divorcing a European and living on a Caribbean Island).
If you are still married it will not be considered kidnapping if he takes your child to England and does not bring her back and it may be years before you see her again. Years. He can take the child and kick you out the front door.
You cannot even consider this. You absolutely have to say no.
Wait until custody has been determined.
Forget about going to Spain or Canada right now.
You always have to look at the downside risk. Is a vacation in Spain worth the 1 in 10,000 chance that he kidnap your child? I can answer that for you and the answer is a resounding no.
I cannot imagine that my stbx would do this (We have three kids and he doesn't even know how to give them a bath...) but both the psych and lawyer have drilled it into my head that the risk is there and the number one thing I can do to prevent is not allowing him to leave the country with them. I also will not leave our country while he visits. (I got into this discussion with my psych thinking that when stbx visited I could actually leave the island for a week - thus avoiding conflict with stbx and giving him alone time with the kids) But both psych and lawyer said absolutely no for all of these reasons. Until we have a custody agreement he will almost never have any alone time with the kids. If I were to try to go to his country to get them, the authorities would side with him as he is from that country and I am not.
Be careful Mamma. This is what is important in the big picture. No chess games with your child's life.
post #18 of 30
aside from all the red flags here, i wouldn't even want dh (sahd!) to take my almost 3yo boy somewhere without me for longer than overnight. that's so young. too young to spend that much time away from mama without a good reason.

i can't believe he would try to do this, giving you only two weeks' notice!? that's not cool at all. i'm sure he'll be pissed when you tell him know, because he presumably already booked their flights, but that is not your fault.
post #19 of 30
i troo wish I could take my children out of the country for trips and such. but it was something I had tgo give up to keep them safe. I found an email from their dad to his girlfriend talking about how he wanted to run away to Canada with the girls (thats where his girlfriend is) blah blah blah and how she was totally up for being their mommy blah blah blah :Puke: the only way I could keep him from doing that is to give up my right as well. : this is what we do.
post #20 of 30
The UK, like all Western European countries as well as the US, follow the Hague Convention. If your STBX were to keep your daughter in England against your will, England will ship her straight back to you. Whether he can get a UK passport for her is irrelevant - without your express permission AND a formal custody agreement that CLEARLY outlines that she can permanently reside in England, he WILL NOT legally be allowed to permanently move her to UK.

I just want to repeat: because of agreements between the UK and the US, your husband cannot get custody in England. Custody is a process wrought by the state in which you divorce. Just because your daughter may have a claim to UK citizenship does not mean that your husband can get a UK custody agreement. Because of the Hague Convention, it would never even make it to court.

If you did want to allow him to take your daughter to visit her grandparents, provide him with a notarized letter stating precisely how long her visit may last. If the UK immigration officer is a good one, he or she will only stamp her passport for that length of time - meaning that she's legally required to leave before her tourist visa expires. This of course is irrelevant if she already has a UK passport with which to enter the country.

But, please. Unless your husband is very crafty and wants to go into hiding, it would be very difficult for him to keep your daughter in England. There are cases, of course, where this has been done, but the abducting parent immediately becomes an outlaw. If your husband plans on seeing his daughter in the future, it's a very unwise choice.

Do get custody formalized before any international travel.

For the record, I think she's too young to be without you for two weeks if she isn't used to it.

For more information, see these links:

http://travel.state.gov/family/abduc...ntion_560.html
http://travel.state.gov/family/abduc...ction_580.html
http://travel.state.gov/family/abduc...tion_2873.html
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