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Which country should my son and his children ex wife live?

(38 Posts)
Speldnan Sat 20-May-17 11:15:25

I wonder if anyone else has had this dilemma in their family?
My DS and his wife have been separated for 18 months after a nasty split. They have tried to keep it amicable for the sake of their 2 little girls. The problem is that they have lived in New Zealand for the past 7 years so have not been able to have the support of their families.
My DS had been living with another woman for some of this time though their relationship is now a bit uncertain. My DIL though has been unable to move on and desperately wants to move back to the UK, encouraged by her parents. She is very unhappy and my DS is sympathetic, however he does not want to come back here as he feels the life there is better for the children and easier for them to have joint custody of the children. He is terrified of losing his children as he has a very close and hands on relationship with them.
I simply cannot see how this situation can be resolved, as their families,we are in turmoil over it (as well as them of course). My DS's take on it is that they have jobs and a life over there whereas DIL parents want them to give up everything to come back to the UK. Has anyone else had experience of a similar situation?

Anniebach Sat 20-May-17 11:36:26

This is difficult, if your daughter in law cannot move on from the breakup is this because she didn't want the marriage to end?

kittylester Sat 20-May-17 11:44:28

I should think that there might be legal implications here. Would she be allowed to take them to a different country without their father's consent?

This must be difficult for you being so far away.

Norah Sat 20-May-17 11:45:40

Theirs to sort, they will sort it quicker without their parents meddling.

Speldnan Sat 20-May-17 12:27:42

No she can't take the children to another country without consent. Her parents say my DS is deciding their daughter's fate. I agree parents shouldn't interfere but DIL's parents emailed me asking me to persude my DS to come back to the UK. I said we should leave it to them but it's true it's making my DIL ill being there after what's happened. I think she hoped the marriage could be saved but unfortunately she was the one who cheated so my DS felt he had to leave after trying to get over it for 6 months. He found someone else but she didn't so there is a lot of bitterness there.

Starlady Sat 20-May-17 17:07:49

It sounds as if you care about your dil, Speldman, even though she cheated on ds. That's very caring of you, but if you were to lean on ds to move back home, he might see it as you "siding with her" and take it as a "betrayal" of sorts. Or he might just think you concerns are a cover for wanting him to move back, anyway. What if he did listen to you and then regretted it? No matter what you would say to him, the chances of this having negative consequences for your relationship with ds are just too great, imo.

Besides, I agree that neither you nor the other parents should be involved. In fact, I think the other parents had a nerve to ask you to intervene. But I guess they are desperate for their dd's sake. Either way, I hope you stick to your decision to "leave it to" ds and dil.

I wonder how much she really wants to return home and how much this idea has been promoted by her parents. It sounds to me as if they are very eager to get some control over this situation, but they really can't.

Dil will adjust in time. If not, she can seek counseling surely or reach out to friends. She brought this on by cheating, and I'm not saying she should be "punished," but it's not your job to "fix" the problems either. Very wise of you to stay out of it.

grannylyn65 Sat 20-May-17 17:22:56

speldman is right, I couldn't move my kids from England to Scotland!

Speldnan Sun 21-May-17 17:17:39

Thanks starlady, you've hit the nail on the head with all your observations. My DIL's parents have been trying to get her back here ever since they went to NZ 7 years ago. I told my DS that it was a ruse to get her back. She doesn't even get on that well with her mother so I'm not sure it will help her. I totally understand how worried her parents are as their DD is on anti depressants and not coping very well. Thanks for saying the other parents had a nerve to ask me to intervene, that is so right! When I said I didn't want to interfere they turned quite nasty and said my son was deciding their DD's fate! It's frustrating not being able to help but I agree that ultimately they have to decide for themselves. I do think that young couples/ people are rather selfish these days though, always thinking of their own personal happiness rather than what is best for their children.

Starlady Sun 21-May-17 20:58:13

You're welcome, Speldman.

I feel for dil, but I also think she is being selfish, like the people you mentioned, just thinking of herself and not of the kids. Taking them so far from their dad can't be good. How can she even entertain the idea?

Besides, if she doesn't get on with her mum, how would it help? Imo, that's just a fantasy - go home to the uk and everything will be all right. No - she'll still have to live with what she did and what the result was. She'll still need to find a new man if that's what she wants. She may need support, but a mum that she doesn't get on with isn't likely to be much help.

It sounds to me as if her parents are selfish, too, trying to use this to promote their own agenda and trying to guilt ds - or you - into going along with it. I'm sorry they "turned nasty" when you refused to interfere. But that shows their true colors, imo.

I hope they don't bother you again and that ds and dil sort this out soon.

radicalnan Mon 22-May-17 09:37:21

Why do people think they will resolve all their problems at once?

She created the mess and when her choice didn't work out she isn't happy with that either. She is just going to wait now and see what else life has to offer her and make better choices next time round.

The children have already suffered an upheaval at home and now she thinks bringing them to a different place entirely will be a good move....for her presumably, what about them?

Realistically it is better if you try and keep a distance because sometimes people end up back together again anyway but she does sound pretty self centred. I know there are things called prohibited steps orders in the UK to stop people making drastic changes in the children's lives when parents part, so presumably there is something the same for them?

Anniebach Mon 22-May-17 09:48:11

Seems this has been discussed before, there is no mention of the dsughter in law having an affair and breaking up the marriage

If it was my daughter so unhappy I would want her to come home though just as speldnan wants them to stay there it is makes her son happy

GrannyMosh Mon 22-May-17 09:55:58

Anniebach, Speldnan said her daughter-in-law cheated.

Anniebach Mon 22-May-17 10:03:10

Thank you granny Mosh, I missed the second post

luluaugust Mon 22-May-17 10:14:16

This one is going to be extremely difficult to sort out, has your DS or DIL seen a Solicitor to find out exactly what the position is? I guess you and your Dil parents are frantic as how do you deal with all this half a world away. I would want my daughter home too. Only they can sort it out in the end and although you can support your son by talking things over with him I would be very careful about giving advice specially as he will be dealing with legal matters in a different country. By the way after 18 months is there any talk of divorce, is there a slight chance they could get back together?

Hollycat Mon 22-May-17 10:39:31

She could always leave the children with their father and come home. No reason at all for her to be the one who takes all the responsibility. That could be her ultimation to him, such a suggestion would certainly concentrate minds.

DotMH1901 Mon 22-May-17 10:49:27

It is very sad when a marriage breaks down, especially so when there are children involved. I can understand the DIL's parents wanting to have her and the children back in the UK, especially if she doesn't have any support in New Zealand, but wonder what the children think about this move? Are they too young to be impacted greatly or old enough to make a choice about moving? It is important that what is best for them is taken into account, and that might well be to stay where they are for the present if they are happy and settled. Perhaps the DIL's parents could go out to stay for a month or so to help her to get a routine established and have time to make new contacts that might form a support network for her? Is there a New Zealand version of Gingerbread perhaps? We all want our children to be happy and it does hurt greatly when things go wrong for them. the temptation to feel that if they were back at home things would be fine is quite normal, but if help and support could be provided for the DIL she might well find she prefers to stay in New Zealand after all.

trisher Mon 22-May-17 10:58:02

I think when a marriage breaks up and you are left with children there is always the urge to run home to your parents where some of the responsibility will be taken from you and you will feel supported. I know I had this when I divorced. I am so pleased now that I didn't do this. Children need contact with their father. If you are in contact with your DIL I would urge her to think carefully before she makes any decisions. I would also contact her parents and tell them that you aren't prepared to tell her she must come back to them and I would ask them how they will feel if in years to come their GCs turn around and accuse them of separating them from their father. It's something for the couple to sort out and parents should be careful of any interference.

Gemmag Mon 22-May-17 10:59:26

Her parents should stay out of it but I can understand their concerns, only natural that they should be concerned about their DD. Upsetting for everyone.

NZ laws are different to ours but it might be an idea if your DS were to seek the advice of a Lawyer. Hopefully with time your DiL will begin to feel happier and things will work out. You haven't said if your DGC were born in NZ.

Jinty44 Mon 22-May-17 11:03:37

"The children have already suffered an upheaval at home and now she thinks bringing them to a different place entirely will be a good move....for her presumably, what about them?"
The children should be the priority. Presumably they were born in NZ? Both under 7?

Whilst I believe the children would adapt to living in the UK quickly, they would miss their friends (at first, anyway) and they would miss contact with their father. Whether they are in NZ or UK, their mother seems to be the resident parent, and her happiness and mental health will have a large affect on their happiness and development.

The problem, in my opinion, is why the mother is desperate to return to the UK - because she sees it as a solution to her problem of depression. Her depression may partially spring from her isolation from her family, old friends, general support network - it's not uncommon for people who emigrate to feel homesick and isolated. That you son can prevent her from bringing the children back to the UK (and I believe he can) must make her feel helpless, which could only increase her depression and make her focus even more on 'coming home' being the solution.

However, returning to the UK is probably not going to be the solution. I have seen at first hand the rootlessness that emigration can bring. When they were over there, they were homesick and wanted to come back. Happy for three months, then missing over there. This played out a couple of times, back and forth.

Would it be possible for her to come for a longish holiday? If the children are young enough it won't interfere with their schooling. She could then see that the UK is not the answer. If she doesn't actually get on with her parents, the realisation might not actually take very long. All her old friends will have moved on, she'll probably feel as isolated here as she does there sad. And with the prohibitive cost of housing, could she even afford it? If she's not close to her parents, living with them would quickly become horrendous. Moving out from them would need a job, deposits - the practicalities could be insurmountable. Which will do her depression no good at all.

Of course this could all be very expensive, and if her parents are domineering they might be able to make her feel unable to leave again, uproot the children again.

So, ideally - your DIL and son have to TALK. Talk about her depression, isolation, what actually moving back to the UK would really mean. Deal with her depression-fuelled rose-tinted glasses of life back 'home'. Emphasise that the UK and everyone in it has moved on since she left. She would not be coming back to what she left - she might not feel she belonged any more, and then what?

Starlady Mon 22-May-17 11:48:26

Great post, Jinty44!

I agree with all those suggesting that dil simply go home for a visit or her parents spend a "long holiday" with her in NZ. Problem is, Op, you can't be the one to suggest any of this. What if dil takes the kids home for a visit and decides to stay? Ds may blame you. What if the parents come to visit and there's drama between dil and her mum? They may get angry at you for having suggested it (not very reasonable, but I don't think you're dealing with reasonable people.) I don't mean to suggest that you be selfish, but making suggestions may do nothing else but lead to people turning against you.

They can think of these possibilities just as we can. They need to come to it themselves. I hope it helps you to realize there are a couple of happy medium solutions if dil and her parents choose to take them. But, imo, you need to continue to stay out of it.

icanhandthemback Mon 22-May-17 12:24:31

My DH's ex swept his children away to the other end of the country after their divorce without so much as a 'by your leave.' The children were excited because they were sold a dream and the reality of not seeing their father on a month-to-month basis rather than the daily contact they were used to was completely brushed aside. Fast forward to the present day and they are all back up living near us again. His ex is missing out on having her adult children nearby and a meaningful relationship with any of her grandchildren. All the children felt they were cheated of their father whilst growing up. My husband felt the children would have hated him if he had tried to stop them moving whey they were younger but some of the things that have emerged since do make us wonder if we should have fought it.

It seems like the OP's DIL needs a reality check along with some Counselling to help her come to terms with the situation. However, I agree with everybody who says the OP shouldn't get involved, it sounds far to risky.

Speldnan Mon 22-May-17 12:35:48

So interesting hearing other people's take in this problem. My GC are little- 6 and 2 and were born in NZ. My oldest GD is happy in her school but has had a few behavioural problems since their parents broke up. My DS has been loathe to mention divorce since he and his wife had been managing the care of the children well- this was until recently when the parents did decide to give their marriage another go. It's complicated but my DS had heard a rumour that my DIL had a BF in Auckland and was thinking of moving there, he panicked and left his new partner of 1 year who he seems to really love to give his marriage a last try. This was because my DS is devoted to his little girls and is terrified of losing them.It's been a disaster though! DS has been pining for his GF, he and his wife have been rowing the whole time and obviously don't love each other any more ( the BF didn't come to anything anyway) but it has triggered this crisis where DIL thinks the answer is to leave NZ.
Her parents have visited several times over the last year to try to help her but this recent drama has just about finished her off! I do really feel for her and so does my DS but he thinks none of them will be better off leaving Wellington where they have a pretty good life. My DS is about to move out again as the relationship with his wife has become really toxic and no good for the kids either.
I'm just hoping once things settle down my DIL will get back into a life which she will be happier in. What makes it worse for her is that she is aware that my DS is trying to win back his GF ( but that's another story!)
I think relations between myself and her parents have probably soured forever but I really couldn't do what they asked (and my ex husband agrees with me)
What a saga! Eastenders has nothing on my family!!😉

Speldnan Mon 22-May-17 12:42:41

Ps btw the couple had counselling but I don't think it helped as they weren't able to be honest with each other from what I've heard.
Jinty44 you are so right about the rose tinted glasses but how to get her to recognise this? She's a career woman and also thinks coming back here would be better for that- but what price her children? Child care is not nearly as good or cheap as it is in NZ.
She's thinking of coming back for a holiday but I'm scared if she brings the kids with her she may not return- I wouldn't put it past her parents to collude in the older one would miss school.

Shazmo24 Mon 22-May-17 13:13:37

I have a friend in this situation. ..she and her then partner both left the UK to NZ (they are both British) and went on to have 2 boys and they are now NZ citizens.
They broke up their relationship (not married) & I know that she'd love to come back to the UK but the boys father won't agree to it.
When she came back for a holiday last year with the boys she had to go to court to apply for this...If she hadn't gone back she could have been arrested.
The boys are settled in school and she always puts their needs first.
When the boys father went to live on Auckland (she's in Wellington) the boys still flew up (he had to come down to get them) to see him every other weekend.
However much she wants to come back without their father's consent she never can until they are adults.

Speldnan Mon 22-May-17 13:39:41

Shazmo24 how interesting, I guessed this is probably a fairly common problem these days. I shall tell my son about going to court to allow home visits, though I assume this couple must've arranged custody of the children through the courts which my family have not done yet.