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Help Please! Grandchild being taken to live abroad

(49 Posts)
Tatti Mon 02-Oct-23 10:53:05

My 2 year old granddaughter & her mother (B) have been living with me, my son (J) and my partner for a year. B is not English and the relationship has been bad between her and my son for a long time, (she fell pregnant 6 weeks into the relationship and they have struggled as a couple).
She has just announced she is going to move to her family in Italy with the child. It is not a good setup for a child, she did this before and came back because it was so awful but now she says its for good.
I discovered that last time this happened my son paid for legal advise but in the end she still left without any custody agreement and she made visiting very difficult.
Can anybody tell me how to start the custody process? I've found a lot of conflicting information - some you pay, some you don't. My son recently lost his business and money is a problem which is why they've been staying with me.
We are heartbroken but feel completely powerless. B is a very difficult person to deal with and has a foul temper so we all walk on eggshells to keep life calm for my GD.
I will find some money if we need to but how do we navigate the system?
Thank you for reading this. I'm at work crying my eyes out!!!

Shelflife Mon 02-Oct-23 11:13:22

Tatti, my heart goes out to you , such a distressing situation.
I am not in a position to advice and have no experience of this , I feel sure someone on GN will be able to offer you advice and support. Thinking of you 💐

March Mon 02-Oct-23 11:18:49

Is your son going with her? Id follow his lead and support him.

If she's definitely wanting to go id talk to my son and see if it's something they could trial?

paddyann54 Mon 02-Oct-23 11:21:20

I really think the child will be best with its mother and her family.She's not happy with your son and you clearly dont like why would she stay? I'm fairly sure she'll be happier and more even tempered out of the situation she's in now.
The child is HER child ,you are only the GM and GP dont have rights so its up to your son to fight for his child IF thats what he wants.

maddyone Mon 02-Oct-23 11:25:48

If your son has parental rights, which it sounds as though he does, as his child lives with him, then the child’s mother can’t take the child abroad without your son’s permission. It does depend on the parental responsibility situation though. If it goes to court, the judge won’t necessarily agree with you and your son, but they might. You can never tell which way a judgement will go.

Callistemon21 Mon 02-Oct-23 11:37:19

I'm confused - are you trying to separate a small child from her mother?
Or is it your son who wants to gain custody?

The situation they are in at the moment is not ideal, all of you sharing a house, perhaps they might get on better if they could find somewhere for the three of them. It's up to your son to sort out, calmly if possible.

BlueBelle Mon 02-Oct-23 11:39:37

She's happy with your son and you clearly dont like her PaddyAnne I think you ve read it wrongly

The poster actually says
and the relationship has been bad between her and my son for a long time

I agree with Maddy she can’t take the child abroad without the child’s father agreeing if he has equal parental rights but it’s not always cut and dried
I think your son needs to seek some advice in his own right you can support him and give him help if needed but it needs to be insisted by him
Good luck let us know how it goes

Tatti Mon 02-Oct-23 11:54:31

Thank you so much Shelflife. I'm so pleased to have found this site!

Tatti Mon 02-Oct-23 12:05:29

I think I've managed to confuse everybody! I should have been calmer when I wrote it sorry! My son does not want to split - but B does, she wants to take the child to Italy permanently where her parents live. He wants them to move in together here in UK (just the three of them - they lived together before), but she doesn't want to. He would settle for decent access but from experience once she leaves she makes access difficult.
My GD is settled here in nursery and has people who love her - in Italy it is far more complicated family wise and she will be quite isolated.
I have tried to support B and as I say they have all been living with me rent free so that they can save but (in my opinion) she is sabotaging everything we offer so that she can go back. Incidentally she hasn't lived in Italy for 9 years so she was already settled in UK when they met.
By the way - she has already taken my GD out of the country without permission - luckily that time she came back. He was warned about this, nobody asked for proof of permission any step of the way even though the GD has a UK passport and the Mother doesn't.
Thank you for your replies. I haven't got to grips with the emojis and acronyms yet!

Theexwife Mon 02-Oct-23 12:06:12

It is unlikely that your son would get full custody. If the mother is forced to stay here she will be miserable and resentful and could make visitation difficult, after hefty legal fees she may be allowed to leave anyway as she has a support system in Italy. Having a baby after a six-week relationship was unlikely to work.

It may be better to spend any spare money on visitation and bringing the child here for holidays, which will become easier as it gets older. When older the child may decide to live here.

Fighting the mother will only make the child unhappy and an unhappy mother can turn a child against the father's family.

It is heartbreaking but many grandparents maintain a long-distance relationship with their grandchildren.

Smileless2012 Mon 02-Oct-23 12:11:35

Hello Tatti. You say your son previously took legal advice but the child's mother left without any custody arrangement which sounds rather odd.

He needs to ensure that he has legal equal parental rights which would then result in him having to give permission for her to take the child abroad. However, as BlueBelle has said, even with parental rights it isn't always "cut and dried" but as the child has been living with both parents, that will hopefully work in his favour.

It's imperative that your son gets legal advice asap and takes the necessary action to have his parental rights legally stated. He needs to engage a family solicitor whose expertise is in this area. The first consultation may be FOC but after that fees will need to be paid as legal aid has been virtually done away with.

The child has two parents paddyann, and the child's mother's relationship with the OP's son has been bad "for a long time". She hasn't said she's wanting custody for herself, she's asking for information for her son.

Having previously taken the child to her family and returned because "it was so awful", doesn't come across to me that the child will be better off with the mother and her family.

March Mon 02-Oct-23 12:13:25

Does B want to split as she's unhappy here?

It's a huge thing isn't it having a baby, especially so quickly into a new relationship, it changes you as a person. Maybe she's feeling homesick after so long or she feels life in Italy will be better or maybe just wants to be around her own family a bit.

Would your son consider going with her to Italy if that's the problem?

Tatti Mon 02-Oct-23 12:54:43

Thank you all again. She doesn't want to be with my son either in UK or Italy anymore, that's clear. He is willing for the sake of his daughter to try but she isn't. He would love custody but is practical and knows he probably wouldn't get it, so would settle for decent access. Also he wants to have a good relationship going forward so doesn't want a fight.
Having a baby so soon was always going to be a minefield - and the versions vary here (she says he agreed, he says they wanted a puppy!). Either way he is an excellent Dad and she has been a loving Mother - although some of her decisions are difficult to agree with (yesterday's lunch was doughnut followed by ice-cream) but I expect that's normal!
When my son started custody agreements the first time she left (unchallenged at the airport) without it being finalised but he trusted her - this time I hope he doesn't as she made it so difficult when we visited; not being available and changing plans. She would not agree to us bringing her to UK for a visit but that's something he feels strongly about now.
It looks like we need legal advice and probably have to pay.
How do you choose a family lawyer if you don't know anybody who has needed one before?

Smileless2012 Mon 02-Oct-23 13:04:07

You should be able to find a firm who has a family law practice in your area advertising on the internet Tatti. I suggest that your son writes down any questions he has prior to the first consultation so he doesn't forget to ask anything, and it would be helpful if you went with him so between you you'll be able to remember everything he's told.

Siope Mon 02-Oct-23 13:30:44

You can search the Law Society site for solicitors by area of expertise and location

Glorianny Mon 02-Oct-23 13:38:41

Tatti do be careful, even with very expensive legal advice and a court order the child's mother could still just decide to break the law and go. You would then be faced with having to pay out more to find the child and get a legal decision in Italy. Your best hope of anything is to encourage both of them to go to mediation and agree something which will be in the best interests of the child. It may be that you will only see her occasionally until she is older. A compromise and a friendly agreement is much better than trying to use the law which only sets up anger and opposition. And then there is the cost which can be massive. Good luck I hope the parents can both step back and agree something for your DGD's sake.

Hithere Mon 02-Oct-23 13:51:04

It is clear your son needs to talk to a lawyer, if that if what he wants.

Please support your son

Nanatoone Mon 02-Oct-23 14:00:53

Your son needs to see a lawyer asap. Don’t trust anything the mother says. We were in the same position (not the living abroad bit) and it has cost a fortune and the month we continues to break the court order as and when she pleases. Soon, I think that will be dealt with by the courts but I am saying that it is never going to easy or cheap. There are so many man who couldn’t care less but even when a man does he seems to have few rights (or is allowed to exert them). I’m sorry to sound negative but it’s been years of it for us and it is very wearing and can be very damaging for the children. Please hope the mother will see reason.

Nanatoone Mon 02-Oct-23 14:01:40

Sorry mother nor month. Annoyance made me fail to check.

Glorianny Mon 02-Oct-23 14:27:31

I would point out that you can spend a fortune on lawyers trying to get a court order enforced and still fail. After all what would you have done to the mother of your GC to force her to comply? I agree it is very difficult for fathers and I think sometimes it is the conflict that the mother wants. As the children get older their wishes become more important.

Ilovecheese Mon 02-Oct-23 14:43:24

If your son and daughter in law can remain civil to each other, would it be so bad if your granddaughter went to live in Italy with her mother. If your daughter in law feels that you and your son are "ganging up" against her, perhaps if you stepped back and left it up to the two parents to sort something out just between the two of them, your daughter in law might feel a bit more willing to compromise. Italy is not the other side of the world.

Callistemon21 Mon 02-Oct-23 14:49:20

Sensible post, ilovecheese

I did read the OP as Tatti wanting to try to gain custody of her grandchild and apologise, but it wasn't very clear at first.

Really, this is up to the parents to sort out and both should try to remain calm for the sake of the child. It sounds as if both are good parents and it's sad if the relationship has not worked out.
If the mother is desperately unhappy then that will not be good for the little girl.

No, Italy is not 10,000 away and I hope you can maintain contact if your DIL decides to go Tatti.

Callistemon21 Mon 02-Oct-23 14:49:51

and apologise
And I apologise for misreading it

maddyone Mon 02-Oct-23 14:59:39

I’d like to add that it isn’t always mothers who are difficult.

Tatti Mon 02-Oct-23 15:22:09

Again thank you all, so useful (and so sorry Nanatoone). The first time the was preparing to go they started mediation but she just stopped attending and my son found there was very little he could do. This is why I want them to get it right this time, especially as we are all still living together. I probably seem interfering but having taken a complete backseat last time and it failed I just want them to get it right for my GD.
I'm also coming from experience as I had no contact with my father growing up - my Mother's decision - and it was wrong.
I know Italy is better than Australia (except for the language challanges!) but when we went last time it was made difficult to see her so it might as well have been confused . Look at me with an emoji!!