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How can I cope?
#1
I decided to share my story here, hoping to get some answers or at least some good pointers, because I am feeling helpless and depressed.

In 2015, my ex-wife left me for another man and asked for a divorce. I didn't want my then three-year-old daughter to suffer more than necessary, so I accepted a divorce without getting lawyers involved, and even swallowed all my pride to sell my part of our house (which we were living in for only one year and which I renovated completely) to my ex's new boyfriend so that my daughter could keep her habits and yard to play outside (we were living in the suburbs of Paris and I worked for years to afford us a house with a small garden). The hardest part of the divorce wasn't just being cheated on in my own house - a violation of my intimacy - but especially seeing only my daughter one week out of two.

But things got much worse since then. My ex has moved back to our country of origin (Belgium) and has taken my daughter with her. When she announced her moving, I proposed for months to seek for family council to decide where our daughter would live now. She was born in France, is bilingual and has her school and friends there. She's also closer to me because the mother left our house for several months after the separation (to be with her boyfriend) and I took always care of her health visits and school. The mother refused all attempts at a meeting, and first sued me in Belgium for getting custody (which she lost) but then she obtained full custody in the French court.

I am still traumatized by that hearing.

There is only one hearing in the French court. The judge immediately looked at me with an angry face and said "So you think a child's friends are more important than her mother?" and did not let me speak, while listening to the lies of the mother. Even though I had proof for everything in my case file (the mother repeatedly violates my rights as a father), the judge just copied what the mother said without checking. One example: the mother more than doubled the amount she pays for her mortgage, and claimed to be unemployed even though she has a well-paid job in Belgium. Now I have to pay a really high amount of child support and have to finance two trips to Belgium (I can see my daughter once every two weekends, but one of them I have to organise in Belgium). The judge claims that I can easily stay with family but this is not true and just another lie of the mother...

I still see that hearing as a film before my eyes every night I go to sleep. 

I feel incredibly guilty towards my daughter for not moving to Belgium as well... but I have a new partner here in France and my job, and I cannot just leave this life behind. I constantly feel like I'm torn in two.

I don't know how to cope with not seeing my daughter every day... The mother does not inform me at all about her, how she's doing, ... I feel sad every day although I have a supportive and understanding partner. I have a great job. But I can no longer concentrate at work and it's starting to show in my performance. And my partner and I wish to have children, but I feel like a part of me is missing and I feel this emptiness.

I don't know how to cope with the feeling of injustice... with the thought that her mother - who refused to treat my daughter's asthma - now has to take care of her well-being. The thought that the guy who entered my house and privacy now has more time with my daughter than me. The thought that I am not there to protect my daughter from the mother's borderline behavior... 

Thank you for reading this story...
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#2
Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds a very difficult situation and you are clearly suffering. Have you considered counselling or therapy? Holding onto guilt is going to be destructive for you and will only affect your new life which you've built up.

I'm also facing separation from my young daughter and the prospect of not seeing her very often is very painful. But I try not to mix guilt in too about what I could have done differently - it serves no purpose, the past is done.
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#3
My advice here would be situations change...

She now has a job so get Child maintenance reviewed (not sure about the french system but some EU systems take both parents wages.. UK only non resident parent... check as she may need to contribute more to the pot)
Also you need to understand what changed between the shared custody and sole custody hearing... if you not happy .. appeal
If she won in a french court then immediately moved the kid to Belgium ... away from you then that is not right... again legal advice is needed by you
In UK if you have super high costs to see your kid... they can be deducted off the child maintenance ... you wife moved the kid and you shouldn't have to pay extra to see her ... again check with lawyer
Your wife can also easily bring the child to you and stay with her may friends from her Paris life.... how often does she bring the daughter?

Part of the custody order should have included communication on child's welfare... do you have a copy... she should tell you about health and education ... again no idea about french law but you see this makes sense

You will regret being so civil with her new partner but nothing you can do about that now... make sure you are stronger when it comes to your daughters rights to have a positive relationship with her father

Issue here is that the mother doesn't need you ... she has her family unit ... she hates you more than she loves the kid... she probably doesn't even need the money you send

You should get legal advice ... you have 2 choices .. accept it as it is (please do not) or put some fight into it... a few hundred euros on a lawyer... she what can be done
"Being a good father, for its own sake, does not require your ex to see it or agree"
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#4
(11-14-2017, 03:34 PM)LTCDAD Wrote: My advice here would be situations change...

She now has a job so get Child maintenance reviewed (not sure about the french system but some EU systems take both parents wages.. UK only non resident parent... check as she may need to contribute more to the pot)
Also you need to understand what changed between the shared custody and sole custody hearing... if you not happy .. appeal
If she won in a french court then immediately moved the kid to Belgium ... away from you then that is not right... again legal advice is needed by you
In UK if you have super high costs to see your kid... they can be deducted off the child maintenance ... you wife moved the kid and you shouldn't have to pay extra to see her ... again check with lawyer
Your wife can also easily bring the child to you and stay with her may friends from her Paris life.... how often does she bring the daughter?

Part of the custody order should have included communication on child's welfare... do you have a copy... she should tell you about health and  education ... again no idea about french law but you see this makes sense

You will regret being so civil with her new partner but nothing you can do about that now... make sure you are stronger when it comes to your daughters rights to have a positive relationship with her father  

Issue here is that the mother doesn't need you ... she has her family unit ... she hates you more than she loves the kid... she probably doesn't even need the money you send

You should get legal advice ... you have 2 choices .. accept it as it is (please do not) or put some fight into it... a few hundred euros on a lawyer... she what can be done

Thank you for this great advice. I going for appeal, but am still waiting for a response as to when the appeal will take place. The decision of appealing is difficult, because I am afraid my daughter will settle in Belgium, she will make new friends, ... I just want her to be happy and I feel guilty at the thought of perhaps asking her to move again.

The problem with the judgment is that it is extremely short (3 pages) and very vague. It only says I need to pay 400 euros / month for my child, and I can see her every two weekends but at my expense and one of the weekends I have to stay in Belgium. The judge even writes that I can easily stay with family, which is not true (and how would she know that?). As for the mother, it only says that I keep my parental authority and that all decisions (school, health, ...) should be taken together. So far she's not cooperating.
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#5
Then enforce it... if she is not following the judgement... its your daughter that impacts ... she has been told to so she must otherwise she is not acting in best interest of child... not enough to get the child relocated but you must act being reasonable and dignified (not be walked over) and it is reasonable for a father to want a relationship with his daughter and reasonable for the mother to allow it
"Being a good father, for its own sake, does not require your ex to see it or agree"
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