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Co parenting on different continents with abusive ex

Posted by: Anonymous
Mon 20, Feb 2017 at 7:01pm
After Separation
separation,abusive,different countries

Hi there,

I have not used one of these forums before but I want to sound out my situation as I am at a loss for professionals that can advise me on my very tricky situation.

I live in the UK with my wonderful 3 yr old son. We are very close as it has always been just us two. His father and I were in a long distance relationship between the UK and Australia for 5 years; 3 before our son was born and 2 years after ( our son, needless to say, was an unexpected but wonderful surprise) We saw each other on average every 6-8 weeks for up to one week at a time. The relationship was nothing but a whirlwind rollercoaster of emotions and stress and incredibly turbulent (hence my inability to fully commit and move in with him). On a trip to Australia last year (a trial trip to see if permanent relocation to Australia was a possibility) I found out that he had several lovers and a clear plan to get me to relocate to Australia and try and take my son through the Australian courts. ( I say 'my' son as he has done nothing to share the parental responsibility including no financial contribution) We went through a very traumatic time leaving the country after 6 days without telling him (scared that he would stop me from leaving and I would be stuck in a country with no money or support network). On returning a friend put me in contact with a domestic abuse organisation- after months of talking I finally accepted that I had bee in a highly psychological and emotionally abusive relationship ( a hard realisation considering that before doing this I thought that abuse only meant physical). I still find it hard to believe as we were best friends and he could be so kind and charming but I have spoken to many professionals in detail about our relationship and everyone of them confirms the abusive nature of the relationship.
My ex partners relationship with our son was sporadic and infrequent. Since separating he has taken me to court for abducting my own child (losing of course and getting a £13,000 court order- the case cost me and my family 30k- naturally he has not paid) we went to mediation but it broke down after two days and he walked out. On advise from trusted friends I have become very protective about my son and incredibly strict about boundaries for contact. He still comes over every 6-8 weeks but when I put boundaries in place (e.g.- asking for written evidence of where they are staying) he goes to fathers rights cooperations and bad mouths me. He even went to national papers. I am not denying contact but simply making boundaries due to the sociopathic nature of my ex and the incredible small amounts of time he has spent with out son without me (3 days in total) I am very concerned that he will be a negative influence on our son. He is incredibly manipulative and plays constant mind games- he could easily turn my son against me and my incredibly loving an supportive family.

The main reason for writing this is to find out if there are any professional cooperations that could advise me on what kind of contact arrangement would be in my son's best interest. Some people say that he should have none (which si impossible) and some say that he can only have 2 days at a time until he has build up trust etc. He generally comes over for 5 days at a time and wants to see our son for the entire period, whisky him away to a fancy hotel buy him copious amounts of toys, keep him up late, disregard his routine completely (pre school, clubs etc) and drop him off completely dissolved and confused. The last visit ( of three days) resulted in my son being completely out of sorts for almost 10 days!

Any advice would be so gratefully received.

Many thanks

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  • User-anonymous LucyFamilyLawyer Flag

    Hi Anon

    It sounds like you have had an incredibly difficult time. Co parenting across different continents is really difficult and Australasia is probably the most tricky of all. In addition to that you clearly have a difficult personality to deal with in your ex partner. You did exactly the right thing by returning home as soon as you felt uncomfortable in Australia.

    It is usually, in all but the most extreme circumstances in the best interests of a child to spend time with both parents, regardless of where you live but you need to be particularly careful in your sitatuatin . You need to be sure that your son will be safe. There are things you can do to make the time that your son spends with his father as safe and enjoyable for your son as possible. For example, overnight stays are probably not sensible. Sometimes it is a good idea that the child is returned home for naps and then picked up immediately after so that a full day can be spent with a parent who he will not see very often but your son has the comfort and reassurance of his own cot/bed mid way through the day. You should, of course ensure that your son's passport (both if he has dual nationality) is retained by you. There are many other things you can do if you wish to carefully promote your son spending time with his father in a carefully managed way.

    Whilst the problems you are experiencing are unusual, the are not unique to international family lawyers such as myself. I am currently on maternity leave but would be very happy to recommend you to good experienced lawyers who are used to preparing proposals which may make you feel more secure.

    Best wishes


    Tue 21, Feb 2017 at 6:51pm