French custody battle .. bad for dad.


            Posted on July 18,2010   

            French custody battle looks bad for dad.

Q.   My wife and I are both French citizens, as are our three children.  I got a Fellowship at a top University in Massachusetts, took a leave of absence from my job and made plans, got visas, etc., for all of us to come there for the next three years. 

A few days ago my wife told me she and the kids would not be going with me because she's decided, instead, to move in with her boyfriend. 

I just met with a Paris divorce lawyer who told me that, even though I've been a very involved dad, I've got no chance to get custody of the kids; so I should just take the kids with me to Massachusetts, against my wife's wishes.

What's your advice?

A.D., Paris, France

A.        Do NOT follow that bad advice!

If, as I suspect, your wife wants the kids, a Massachusetts court would quickly order them returned to France. It would also order you to pay her legal fees and expenses.   Then a French court will probably deny your request to take the kids on visitation to the United States.

You've got two tough choices.  One is to stay in Paris to fight for primary physical custody of the kids and permission to bring them here for three years.  Meanwhile, get your old job back and ask to delay the start of the Fellowship.

Or, try to get your wife to agree that she'll have physical custody of the children if she lets them visit you here for all their school and summer vacations plus weekend visitation in Paris.