sounds like it's a good thing you've got a lawyer and sorry to hear of the problems. I was very lucky (if I can use the term when talking about divorce!) in that we were both very adult about it and once everything was settled that was it. no maintenance, no rights of access etc. Sorry to hear about your Mum's situation too, my parents are divorced, it was all tied up properly but there was a lot of friction and things that weren't quiet clear for a while with my sister who was still at school. Having said that I don't see how a divorce being amicable or not can change the agreement - it's still a court order that annuls the marraige and sets out the terms, it just doesn't involve solicitors or is there such a thing as an amicable divorce where you don't get things done through the courts - separation style? ... it's all a bit of a nightmare that's why I'm now living in sin with my partner rathe than getting married or pacsed - two kids and a house together and unfortunately I still have to fill in all forms with 'divorcé' as my marital status which annoys me and upsets my other half - her country, her admin rules though!
au fait, I can't understand your ex not wanting to see the kids, I'd be mortified if I couldn't see mine, must be difficult for you to accept. courage
going back to the original thread theme - I understood that you had to be legally represented in France - friends were amazed that we hadn't used a lawyer and said you had to in France (a few years ago and that's what they said - i accept that they're not legal experts, although there was a juriste in the room at the time who didn't correct them!)
oh and one last thing Christine, I shouldn't worry about taking the kids out of school - no problems with mine, everyone understands or just puts it down to a sicky if they need to fill in paperwork!