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Moving Abroad Without My Kids: A Case Study

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 14 Dec 2019 | comments*Discuss
Children Ex Germany England Job

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 Germany

As 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 Summer

By 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.

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What about fathers who live overseas because the ex took they’re child away? Any studies on that ?
John - 14-Dec-19 @ 4:12 AM
Kindly may i also ask if there is a case study that talks about the copinig strategiesof the women that faces/goes through while the husband is working abroad? Thanks Sacha
Sacha - 16-Aug-12 @ 12:23 PM
How can I find out more or less how many fathers work overseas while families are still home?I need it for a long assay (I am an university student)
Sacha - 16-Aug-12 @ 12:16 PM
I am currently living in the US on a UK passport andUS visa. My wife and I who are both English have an 8 year old daughter and a 6yr old son who are very happily settled here with friends, schooling, etc. They have no ties or memories of the UK. My wife wants us to separate and has insisted she gets custody. Does anyone know what my rights are? Thank you.
Unsure - 23-May-12 @ 5:53 PM
How can I find out more or less how many fathers work overseas while families are still home?I need it for a article.
Vivienne - 19-Apr-12 @ 10:28 AM
Very interesting case study, but it strikes me that there isn't much difference to intact families where Dad works abroad for a lucrative job or military service. It isn't always feasible (or desirable) for the family to travel with Dad so they must live apart. Some families adapt to only seeing Dad when he is home on leave or when they can visit in the school holidays. In other cases the distress is too much and he needs to give up on the job and move back home. I certainly passed up job opportunities abroad when I was married because I didn't want to disrupt my family and I don't see it as any different now that I'm not married. Either way, you still have to decide whether you are building your life around your kids or expect your kids to fit in with your life.
SteveGrr - 17-Feb-12 @ 4:45 PM
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