Diary of being obliged to fight to keep your own child.

Did you ever wonder why these ‘tug-of-love’ parents are obliged to give up their cases, and give up their children? Why would you do that?

I don’t often go into the life of my daughter on here (as it’s my blog and her personal life)

but I am going to now.

I have a daughter, called M_______. She was eight yesterday, is bright, beautiful, and the reason I am still here. In some very dark days, she has been the reason I stayed alive.

M_______ is the only good result of my marriage, which in every other way was truly appalling, including such highlights as nearly being murdered, marital rape, an alcoholic husband, grinding poverty, and depression. In fact, if it hadn’t been for her, I would have finished it all, many times over.

The news about the cuts in legal aid today just spurred me to write this. I have been called to court in France by M______’s father in February.

I left him in February 2003, and I am still not divorced from him. I applied for a divorce in August 2003. What’s the sticking point? Legal Aid mainly. I can get Legal Aid in the United Kingdom, and I have done everything that I can do from this end, but to no avail. I am still married to my alcoholic violent husband, which means that he still has rights over my daughter.

The latest stunner is that he wants access for six weeks every year, two weeks at Christmas, and four weeks every summer, not coinciding with the school holidays at all….and the best? I am supposed to accomodate him for these visits. My dream situation eh? Having the man who caused me to get up one morning and run off half way across Europe with a small child and four suitcases living in my house for six weeks a year for the next ten years…… and I’m sure Mr A will be so happy to welcome the man that nearly killed me over and over again into our house at regular intervals…….

Not to mention the fact that I can’t trust him as far as I can throw him with the child he used to take in the car, drunk, with no seatbelt….. and the risk of him running off with her so I never see her again….

So. I receive a subpoena….. I did used to have a solicitor in London, but as I have dipped up and down in salary terms and in and out of legal aid, have not been able to continuously keep him on……

I am now in Lancashire, so, a tad impractical. So I went around every lawyer in the area, and none would touch this case with a bargepole. International family law? No thanks mate. So I rang CAFCASS, the so-called children’s guardians, figuring that they could advise…yes, they did….London or maybe Manchester….. and then took time out to remind me that I had contravened the Hague Covention and was technically a criminal, and was I aware of this? Strangely enough, yes, yes, I was, but hadn’t stopped to think about this as I was running from someone who was beating the life out of me…odd that….

It’s great you know. At work we spend all day protecting the children of people who often don’t deserve to have them protected, and Social Services and CAFCASS leap in, throwing court orders around like lollipops. Unfortunately, I work for Social Services, as some of you might know, but they seriously aren’t bothered about the protection of my child….. They can’t do anything, I’ve been told. Hold on, let me pop out and get myself a smack habit and five kids by different blokes, and they would be falling over themselves to help me…..

As however I am fairly literate, sane, and work for them…. I have to do it all for myself. Whilst my ex doesn’t set a foot in this country, they are prepared to do…..nothing. It’s down to me, whether I can afford it or not. Above all, I had better not take any time off of work over this……

So, I have to go back to my solicitor in London…… a nice bill of £100.00 to start off with, just after Christmas……

He tries his best to get me off of this court hearing, suggesting that I write a court statement to explain why I am unwilling to attend….a week of raking over past pain, no sleep, torturing the phrases out bilingually, as Legal Aid doesn’t stretch to translation…..

Then he tells me that after research, he has found that the French courts usually find in the favour of the person who is present……… here we go again.

Mr A and I sit down and torture this out….hmmmmmm. Fares to the town where I was living are astronomical. It’s a holiday resort, and we are out of season. London- S d’O, £354.00 each, (there is no way I am going alone) then we need to add on fares from here, probably another £200.00, plus a hotel, we are looking at over £1000.00… by air…Manchester- Nantes is over £400.00, then there is the train to S d’O, over £1000.00. Thrashing it out with Amethyst Dragon and OH, we decide that if we bought a banger and drove, it would be cheaper…….

That’s over a week’s work, and we’re still no nearer……

I have no legal representation in France, so it’s all very well me turning up (shows willing), but they aren’t obliged to listen to me at all. A fruitless few days follow on the net, trying to find a lawyer in S d’O that specialises in family law….. that isn’t his lawyer. I keep trying, Ministry of Justice Websites, Legifrance, the French Embassy in London who hang up when I reveal I’m British, the Consulate (ditto), the Consulate in Manchester turns out to be purely honorary. So I get on to the charity that has been set up around these matters since I started the whole thing 4 years ago, and they put me on to a lawyer in Paris, specialist in International Family Law.

At a price. £221.00 per hour, in fact. I have found out that I am eligible for French Legal Aid, but with nowhere to apply for it as I am not resident in France. So that’s no use. She tries to find me someone in S d’O (in the middle of nowhere). She draws a blank. If she goes for me, the estimate now stands at……. over £4000.00. I only earn £11,000.00 pa………

Mr A and I spend most of last night sleepless and discussing this. comes to over £5000.00 with our fares too. We can’t do it unless we win the lottery. We need to go as if we maange to, she can drag the whole thing back to being tried in Britain. Where I get legal aid. Chicken, egg, chicken, egg……..

No-one has sked M_____ what she thinks about all of this. But there are clues, believe me. She flatly refuses to speak French. Her mother tongue, that she spoke and was schooled in until the age of four. She won’t speak it to me. I sent her to French Clubs, lessons…she won’t speak it to anyone else either. She then told me that ‘Daddy speaks French and I don’t want to’. I won’t let anyone demonise her father in front of her, whatever I may think about him. She remembers. She remembers seeing far, far, too much.She is scared. She doesn’t even want to talk to him on the telephone. How then can I send her merrily off to spend time with him? To all intents and purposes, they don’t even speak the same language.

This morning, the Paris lawyer has found someone. But we still need to pay her for the drawing up of documents. and him. Looking at at least £1600.00 still, plus translations…plus our fares.

So we’re still on a figure of £2600.00 and rising, with a budget of about…….. er, if we are pushing it and begging and borrowing, about £1000.00. No-one would give either of us a loan. Plus the £100.00 or so I spent on faxing, copying, and posting yesterday…..already spent £200.00 and we haven’t even started yet……

I think I can understand why Molly Campbell’s mother was obliged to give up…….How could she afford it? Again, she was the ‘wronged’ one, as Misbah was taken by her father. There is scant sympathy for me as the one who is ‘wronging’ in all of this. Whatever the reasons, I am seen as a child kidnapper, someone who contravened an arbitrary convention to save the life of her daughter, and that of herself. If I’d murdered someone abroad, bet they’d give me legal aid then……

Not content with ruining the seven years of my life we were together, poisoning the next four (ruining any relationship), he has now managed to poison the next year, as I will spend most of this paying off the debts I have had to accrue for this case. No-one will help me.

I am being punished for trying to keep my child safe and secure…uh?????? Has this country gone completely barking mad? I thought that was what a mother was actually supposed to do in life, forgive me if I got that wrong. We are now in a culture where bad behaviour is sanctioned and in effect rewarded, whereas my strenuous efforts to do the right thing mean that I get no help at all……

I still have to risk my sanity by going to another country to in effect stand trial, though I have done nothing wrong, facing the person who caused it all in the first place. I risk being arrested for ‘sequestration d’enfant’, child kidnapping. The country in which I believed, in which I had faith in truth and justice, doesn’t give a damn. Down to me again then I guess. Thanks for nothing. But believe me, whatever it takes, my daughter stays here.

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12 Responses to “Diary of being obliged to fight to keep your own child.”

  1. I feel I need to put something down as a comment – I don’t know – Its so hard watching you go through all this and not be able to help you in any way apart from offering a shoulder to cry on, make stupid suggestions, declare our incredularity at the French Legal system and offer our friendship – not much help when what you really need is cold hard cash.

    You are very much in our thoughts at the moment and if we can help in any useful way we will – M_______ must stay with you no matter what

    xxxxx

  2. It’s the friendship and support I also need at the moment.

    Thanks for being there when it’s important…..

    and believe me, she will!

  3. I wish I had oodles of dosh and could help you Khlari, as it is you have my friendship and support, seriously if there is anything I can do I will. Stay strong hun, you can do this!

  4. An incredibly honest and brutal post which conveys so much that makes my heart ache for you, and for M_______. That pic of her is one of my faves, by the way it’s one taken by AD’s partner isn’t it? She so looks like Plath in that photo.

    Have you tried contacting your local MP, both the one in Lancashire and the one for your parents’ location? Or MEP? I really would try to get some involvement from politicians. They can be useless but sometimes quite the opposite.

    I am praying for you both and I know D is too. We send love to you and will do anything you want and need to help you protect your daughter from this monster. x

  5. Funnily enough I suggested contacting our local MP yesterday – Geraldine Smith is one of the good ones – She still remembers why she was elected – To help her constituents with their problems.

    Also if needs be I’m sure the papers would love to get involved in something like this – especially a paper like The Sun – who normally I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole just out of general principle – but they could help with the finances certainly

  6. Ah yes, the problem is, though, that some newspapers would play the xenophobia card – especially where France is concerned. That said, all’s fair in love and war etc. Whatever helps in the aim of keeping M in this country, I’m all for it. I’ve already said, if mum and daughter need any help – anything at all – D and I are here, on hand, 24 hours a day, under any circumstance.

    Sometimes doing what’s right requires courage. And Khlari is blessed with many courageous friends. x

  7. Thank you everyone for your support and love.

    I am going to contact the local MP about this…I am getting to the point where I don’t know what else to do about it…..I seem to have been down every possible avenue, but there have to be more, don’t there? I need to hope that there are at least…….

  8. MP, MEP …….. can do by email /online via http://www.theyworkforyou.com

    The following mght be able to help – they have free initial consultations

    http://www.familylawinternational.com/children.htm

    http://www.international-divorce.com/int'l_child_custody.htm

    http://www.international-divorce.com/ca-france.htm – some background on how the french system works.

    It might also be worth talking to Womens Aid – ot any similar group who may have fighting funds.

  9. Kali Arisi Says:

    Hey you…
    Read your e-mail last night, and your blog just now at work…i’m so surprised at the treatment you’re getting from your own country on this situation,where you are clearly the victim.
    Weird is that i’m kind of having an similar situation in my family. My brother is not in good terms with his wife back in Brazil,she wants to stay there with their child, who’s not even 1 year old yet,and she was born here in London.The bitch is using her child to keep my brother there with her; he wants to break up but in good terms here in London,where they got married and lived for 4 years, to try and raise their baby as friends. In Brazil, mothers have all the right in the world to do whatever they want,well almost. She is using it against him.
    I found myself hating the system that take a child away from her dedicating and loving father, totally ignoring his rights. I was cursing all the mothers that take their children away from their fathers. The ones that really care…
    …And now there’s M——-, who is afraid of even the very sound that reminds her of her genitor…After all, do children have any right to choose?
    In Brazil the child ( older than 7), can make a choice not to see one of her parents, if there is obvious reason, like, lets say, violence and drugs addiction.

    Khlari, you have my total support and friendship. I’m heartbroken…

    PS: I have never believe in justice, now, nowhere in the world.

    Blessed Be my friend
    Kali

  10. Oh Kali, I’m so sorry….

    I just checked, and Brazil is not covered by the Hague Convention, that is awful…….. That’s what it’s for really…and it would have worked in his case as she only just went…It just seems unfair for everyone.

    We are going, whatever I have to do to make it, but it’s not easy..

    Thank you for your support and friendship at this time, I need all the support I can get, believe me. It seems like it’s tough justice for everyone.

    Blessed be

    Khlari

  11. Thanks for leaving your link on my website, otherwise I’d be frantically looking for someone named Claire on Purlple Dragon’s website 🙂

    On to a more serious note…

    I was reading your post with shock. I can’t believe they are letting your ex do this. You are the mother, you take care of your child, she wants to stay with you. That alone should be enough already, but after all the things he’s done to you, he has absolutely no right whatsoever be around you or your daughter.
    You know, no one knows this, but my mother actually refused to give the father’s name when she registered me at the counsil hall. She said: he’s not going to take care of her, so from now on she officially doesn’t have a father.
    I hope one day there will be justice here, and not just leeches who suck you out – financially speaking. I truly hope you and your daughter can grow old without worrying about some sick bastard. (if you don’t mind me saying it like that)

  12. Not at all…..I just don’t know where he gets his kicks, to be honest in even starting this…..

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