Should I let STBX take dd out of the country? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 02-06-2010, 11:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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#2 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 12:08 AM
 
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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.

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#3 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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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.
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#4 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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#5 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 12:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#6 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 10:34 AM
 
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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.

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#7 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 10:56 AM
 
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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?

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#8 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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#9 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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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.
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#10 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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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?
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#11 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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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.
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#12 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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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.

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#13 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 06:35 PM
 
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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.

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#14 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 06:38 PM
 
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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.
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#15 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 11:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#16 of 30 Old 02-07-2010, 11:49 PM
 
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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.

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#17 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 01:16 AM
 
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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.
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#18 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 12:32 PM
 
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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.
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#19 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 07:11 PM
 
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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.

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#20 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 08:05 PM
 
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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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#21 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 08:15 PM
 
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I just wanted to add a few more things after reviewing others' posts:

US citizens DO NOT have fewer rights than native citizens anywhere in the EU. If anything, foreigners (particularly Americans) have even MORE rights. The only things a US citizen on vacation in England does not have access to are public funds and free use of the National Health System.

If anyone is uncomfortable with their ex traveling out-of-country with their children, then certainly do not allow it. Ensure that you have a clear custody arrangement before any travel does take place. But please do not think that it's "easy" to abduct a child to the UK, the EU, or Canada. Abduction is a serious crime with very steep penalties. Most of all, the foreign country will be on YOUR side, not the other parent's.
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#22 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 11:01 PM
 
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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
I think this is bad advice.
I understand that you see the law is on the side of the "foreign" parent but I do not believe this to be the case. If the child has dual citizenship she could live permanently in England with her father who is not divorced from her mother. If the parents are not divorced and there is no custody agreement in place it is my understanding that there can be no kidnapping. My husband can come here, get on a plane and take my kids to his country with him and I will have a heck of a time getting them back.
I will be in a foreign country with no job, no home, no car, no support system. My full time job will be lawyers, courts, and the biggest horror story imaginable. I would not be able to afford it financially or emotionally. Why would you risk this? Hoping the judicial system will favor you?
There are thousands and thousands of kidnappings every year (the FBI receives 2000 Missing child reports per DAY according to http://www.soldiersandkids.com/childkidnappingfacts.htm) and 50% of kidnappings are in the family. So a lot of parents seem to be willing to become "outlaws" for this reason.
You need to do what you need to do for your child. Do not take unnecessary risks, hoping the law is on your side. Maybe it is but even so it could be years in court to get your daughter back.
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#23 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 11:09 PM
 
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No way.

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#24 of 30 Old 02-08-2010, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to tell you mamas thank you so much for all the advice, which helped to bolster my already nagging intuition.

I also spoke with my attorney friend who said that he would definitely advise me against letting her ago at least until everything was sorted out legally, and he did indicate that if STBX *were* to try to keep dd in the UK that it would be a HUGE, complicated mess (SoulCakes helpful information nothwithstanding).

Quite apart from all that, his proposed timeline is TWO WEEKS and my dd of 2.75 years has never in her life been away from me for more than two nights (and even then, that was only once). There is no way I can see this being good for her and I would not, as PP mentioned, consent to this under the BEST of circumstances.

So I'm going to tell him no, that we need to wait for everything to be sorted out legally (which means, indeed, that I will have to wait, too, before taking her abroad--but as PPs have said, that's a small price to pay, in the end) and that we will have to wait much longer before I'm okay with him taking her for that length of time.

Now I'm just nervous about how he's going to take it. I feel in a way that he is deliberately pushing me up against the wall, daring me to say no. I do dare say no, and I wonder now how he is going to react. But I suppose that's another thread entirely...

Thank you all so much again, I feel you have helped me do the right thing and keep my dd safe.

Mama to a beautiful girl since May 2007 and a beautiful boy since August 2010! :
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#25 of 30 Old 02-09-2010, 09:37 AM
 
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Just for the record, I did say that a custody arrangement must be in place before anyone takes a child anywhere. It's true that if two parents are still married, either one can abscond with their child and it would not be considered kidnapping.

We're an international family, so we deal with immigration and traveling on a near-constant basis. I just wanted to point out that with the majority of western countries, it's very difficult for either the custodial parent or non to make off with a child. A lot of people seem to feel that once a border is crossed, you lose all your rights to your child, and that simply isn't true.

La Sombre, I'm glad you feel comfortable with your decision. Definitely make sure you have your divorce finalized and international travel addressed before any of you go anywhere!
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#26 of 30 Old 02-09-2010, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulCakes View Post
Just for the record, I did say that a custody arrangement must be in place before anyone takes a child anywhere. It's true that if two parents are still married, either one can abscond with their child and it would not be considered kidnapping.

We're an international family, so we deal with immigration and traveling on a near-constant basis. I just wanted to point out that with the majority of western countries, it's very difficult for either the custodial parent or non to make off with a child. A lot of people seem to feel that once a border is crossed, you lose all your rights to your child, and that simply isn't true.

La Sombre, I'm glad you feel comfortable with your decision. Definitely make sure you have your divorce finalized and international travel addressed before any of you go anywhere!
Yes, SoulCakes, your advice was clear to me and I really appreciate it. Thank you again!

Mama to a beautiful girl since May 2007 and a beautiful boy since August 2010! :
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#27 of 30 Old 02-09-2010, 10:58 AM
 
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Hey, i see the original question has been resolved (and i really think you're wise, get everything legally settled (which will also allow him time to cool off) before anyone goes anywhere)), so i just thought i'd butt in WRT when kids are old enough to go abroad with the "other" parent...

I too had a messy-ish break up (not really but i had feelings for someone else and my XP was NOT happy, understandably, with the way it was all ending, although he did concede that the way things were BEFORE the end were unhappy due to him as much as me) and there was a lot of anger there. He went from being relatively uninvolved to being gung-ho about parenting DD (which was ultimately wonderful for her) and his drug problem (cannabis) has completely resolved in the years since due to his desire to be a better and better parent (he's even quit smoking cigarettes! ), so really, despite the initial anger and difficulties, it all worked out nicely. Anyway i digress!

I would say that a child is old enough to go abroad with a parent when they are old enough to KNOW and be able to USE the phone numbers which would be pertinent if they WERE being kept away against their will. For some sassy kids that would be 8, for others it might be 14, 16 or even 18. It totally depends on personality. From my POV right after the break-up i would NOT NOT NOT have let XP take DD anywhere but his family's houses (very close by, one bus ride) and even then i wanted to know about it. But now she is older (nearly 4) and would actually begin to ask questions like "when will i see mama?" and "can i phone mama now?" i would actually trust him because his anger is gone, and we are good friends again. So time can change everything.

Maybe in a year or two you could stop over in the UK on your way to Spain and spend some time sight-seeing (in the rain, blah! Actually it's sunny today) while your STBX and DD spend time with his family...? Anyway i guess i just wanted to say that you guys will get through this, and that IME reacting to how things are in the moment is the safest and best way through. Which means when he is angry you expect that to colour his actions, and when he is calm, in months and years to come, you see that he is acting rationally and act accordingly.

Best of luck to you all!
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#28 of 30 Old 02-09-2010, 08:19 PM
 
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It sounds like you have made a decision (a good one, I think), so I won't advise you on that.
But I do have a few thoughts about dealing with your ex, in case it helps.

From how you describe him, it probably doesn't matter what you say or how you handle it. He is going to be mad no matter what. It sounds like he needs to keep finding reasons to be angry at you. This may even be some kind of test, on some level, to see if you are going to stand up to him. And there may be other issues of him feeling like he doesn't have any control, etc. But ultimately, this is not your problem (I know it feels like it, trust me!). But you can't control how he chooses to act or feel.

SO... instead of thinking about what you can say that might make him not so mad (cuz there probably isn't anything), think about what you can say that you know is being honest and fair and that will be useful to you in court or mediation if/when you end up there. I would be simple and clear. You feel DD is too young, there needs to be a more gradual build up to extended time away, etc. Not long explanation, just straightforward. Also state that you are aware that both of you will be wanting to bring DD out of the country to visit family and friends and recognize how important this is, so it is a crucial element to address in your formal visitation agreement. I wouldn't make suggestions about how it will be addressed right now. Just acknowledge the importance of the issue.

If he tries to engage you in any kind of discussion/argument, etc. just don't engage. Simply repeat that you need a formal, legal agreement and a plan for these types of visits needs to be a part of that. If he says nasty things to you or accuses you of things, simply hang up, leave, etc. If he threatens anything with DD, calmly let him know that you take his threats seriously and will take appropriate legal action. And document.

I would contact the embassy, etc. You don't have to let him know you are doing that stuff. He will only ever find out if he tries to take her without your consent.

Good luck. I know how awful it is to be negotiating with someone like this and sending your child with them. It is SO hard.

Try not to let him see you flustered or upset if you can. The sooner he learns that you are going to be calm, fair, play by the rules and unshakable, the sooner he will calm down and stop bullying types of behavior.

Take care.
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#29 of 30 Old 02-09-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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I don't think 2.75 is too young to travel with one parent - both of my DDs traveled alone with me, and alone with my DH at that age. However, we were not in the middle of a messy divorce. Even at that age I think that your child might be made very anxious and unhappy about the vibes she's been picking up from both of you, and be very unhappy at being away from all things familiar.

As others have pointed out, it's better for NEITHER of your DDs parents to take her out of the country until you divorce and custody agreements have been finalised.
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#30 of 30 Old 02-09-2010, 10:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Robinchap1 and GoBecGo, thank you both so much. Both of your posts really spoke to me and addressed things that I needed to hear. GoBecGo, I need to think that someday our relationship may be better, more understanding, trusting and cooperative and less antagonistic than it currently is. It's nice to think that even though it seems impossible now, that sometimes time really can heal a lot of wounds. I do, in my actions with him, try to focus on being calm and reasonable so that hopefully someday that can happen.

On the other hand, Robinchap1, what you said really struck me powerfully. I think both because I am a woman and women (in general, not always, I realize) tend to be pacifiers, etc. and because I am, in particular, a huge people pleaser AND because of the guilt I feel over leaving him have been too lenient. In my response to him, I tried to do exactly what you said. I was calm, clear, kind but fairly brief. His response was very nasty. But I absolutely get the feeling that, as you say, he is challenging me to say no to him. The way I am starting, finally, to feel is that I will work to be patient and reasonable and all the things that will a) make me feel best about myself and most true to myself, b) be best for ensure a better co-parenting relationship between us in the future and c) look good in court, should that ever be something that I need. BUT. I'm not going to allow him to blatantly disrespect me anymore. Because I have, indeed, to accept that I CAN'T CONTROL HIS FEELINGS. I have certainly learned so far that no matter how quiet and yielding I am, it doesn't placate his anger. So why not stand up for myself? I mean, that's why I left him.

I'm rambling now but I just wanted to let you both know that I think you nailed some things on the head and I really appreciate what you have said.

And the rest of you, too...I am feeling very good about my decision if worried about the general state of our co-parenting relationship at the moment.

Mama to a beautiful girl since May 2007 and a beautiful boy since August 2010! :
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