Moving Abroad Without My Kids: A Case Study
David had been divorced for two years. He had a good relationship with his ex, and excellent access to his kids. Originally his two girls had spent every other weekend with him, but that had expanded to more time during school holidays and even the occasional week night.
“That worked really well,” David explained. “The girls were happy. We spent time together, we could go out and have fun or just stay at home and still enjoy ourselves.”
They lived outside Birmingham, and he’d bought a house not too far from where they lived, making it easier for the girls and himself. It seemed a settled existence, and he was looking forward to the future. But then a job opportunity arrived that changed his life.
Moving to GermanyAs an engineer, David was in a skilled profession, and the job offer from the German car maker was an improvement on what he was currently making.
“It was a great opportunity, the chance of a lifetime really. But I had to talk to everyone first, especially the girls, although they couldn’t really understand – they were only seven and nine. But they seemed to be fine with it, and so was my ex – she was great, in fact. So I decided to do it.”
There was plenty of change with the move. He struggled to understand the language, the job was demanding, and adapting to a new life was challenging. He called the girls every evening, but the weekends were lonely without them, although he had plenty to do, exploring his new surroundings.
His plan was to fly back to England one weekend a month to see his daughters, and for the first six months that was what he did. But staying in a bed and breakfast place in the town where he’d lived for so long seemed strange, and it meant there was nowhere to go with the girls where they could relax and just stretch out.
“That was the hard part, always having to be out, doing something, no matter what. But the worst was not being able to read them a story at night and put them to bed. I couldn’t watch them sleeping, and I’d always liked that, right from the time they were little.”
David and his ex had worked out an arrangement that would allow the girls to spend part of their school holidays in Germany with him. He’d fly back to England and escort them over. At Easter it worked well. He took a week off work, and the girls were curious about Germany. It was a relief for him to have them there, to recapture the life they’d enjoyed in England – enough to make him look forward to summer when they could enjoy three weeks together.
The German SummerBy the time the summer holidays arrived, David was eager to fly over and collect the girls. For the first few days everything was as good as it had been at Easter. Before the end of the first week, however, the girls were complaining.
“I suppose it made sense. There were girls their age, but they didn’t speak any English, and Sarah and Lynn didn’t speak any German. So they were frustrated, and tempers frayed – mine as well as theirs, I’m afraid. They were glad to go home in the end, and I admit I felt a little sigh of relief when my ex met them at the airport.”
David still called them every night, and he could hear their happiness at being back in England and among their friends. But then he missed travelling home for a month, saying he had to work, although the truth was simply that his situation was depressing him. He enjoyed his job, he was adapting to his new life in Germany, and he liked the money. But he wasn’t happy.
What Did David Do?After wrestling with his dilemma for another couple of months, David handed in his notice. If the girls had been older, it might have worked.
“I did the only thing I could do – I went back to England. It felt like I’d failed, in a way, and I suppose I had. But my girls mean more to me than a job or money. It’s worth it to see them more, and for things to be back the way they were before. After a couple of weeks I was right as rain. I was lucky, I managed to find a decent job and a house not too far from my ex. Of course, I regret it from time to time, but as soon as they come through the door, everything’s just right.”
For more information about your rights if your children move to a different country, read our article Can I Stop My Ex Moving Our Children Abroad on this site.Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.