Custody rights?

I will try to keep this as concise as possible. Our daughter lived with her French partner for 5 yrs. Last year she discovered she was pregnant, thought to be impossible, due to a medical condition. Quite sensibly, the two of them, discussed the situation, as it was unplanned/unexpected, and agreed to continue with the pregnancy. However, when she was 5mths pregnant, she discovered her partner was cheating on her. Devastated, she moved back home, with us (in France). Her pregnancy was fraught with medical issues, as well as huge emotional ones. Ultimately, our grandson was born in December last year, although he spent 6 weeks on a ICU. Since, coming out of hospital, our grandson spends more time with his father, than our daughter, which doesn’t seem quite right. At first I was proud to see her being so ‘mature’ over access, however, the ammout of quality time she is getting with her son is increasingly diminishing. I have since learnt that the father of the child is threatening my daughter. He has stated, that unless she gives him access ‘whenever’ he wants it, he will take her to court for custody, and that he will get 50% custody, ie 1 week with his father and 1 week with mother. This is not what my daughter wants, so is being bullied into giving her baby to the father whenever he requests it. I would just like to know, what my daughter’s rights are please

Has anyone used mediation to sort out custody arrangements?

I’ve been involved with mediation in the U.K and it seems to make things a little less painful…


Hi There,

I’ve just been through this process with my husband, step-son and his ex (for the last three years!) so know a wee bit about it. French courts do favour 50:50. It sucks and is awful to see a child pack up their belongings each friday night to go to the other parents house - their homework is all over the place, ditto their school marks. In my view it doesn’t work. My step-son now lives with us full-time. I’d urge you to stress to your daughter to keep on friendly terms with the ex because the process in france is horrible. It’s long drawn out and exhausting for everyone involved - especially the child. If I were your daughter I would seek legal advice to clarify her position asap.
She should keep records of all abusive texts, messages etc because they are all taken into account by the ‘JAF’.
best of luck


Many thanks for all kind and informative replies. Our daughter is finally taking legal advice and will be proceeding with legal action. Interestingly, once the ‘father’ discovered her intentions, he all but begged her not to proceed. It would appear, he is well aware, that out daughter is in a lot stronger position than he had led her to believe. She will continue to ‘be fair’ with visitation acsess, but on her terms and far less that it was. This is what she has been advised to do, as it will be in her favour, if it can be shown that she has acted responsibly, when it eventually reachs a judge. Once again thank you all

Dear Den,

Having read your post with attention, it may actually be preferable to determine with a Court order the conditions relating to the child’s residence and the rights of visitation.
The submission of the matter to the Juge aux Affaires Familiales (Family Court Judge) and a Court decision will clarify the situation. The decision will be mostly a question of facts so the presentation of your situation will have to be prepared carefully. Over time, in addition to being a benchmark whenever a conflict is arising, the agreement between parents stemming from the Court order can be adapted to new situations affecting the child and/or the parents.
You may also find that the current “threat” of going to Court by the father is only a way to bully your daughter into staying in an unclear situation. Once your daughter reacts positively at the prospect of a litigation procedure, the father may accept to start with a private agreement which can be taken into account by the judge when making his decision.

Although this is not compulsory to carry out this type of litigation procedure, I suggest that you appoint an avocat specialised in divorce and separation.

I hope this helps.

Dear Den,
My sympathies too. This is a very stressful situation for your family. I have no professional answer, but have personnaly gone through divorce here and custody rights. I think the child’s father may be threathening your daughter on unfounded grounds, as it takes a family affairs judge to decide this kind of issue and very specific custody days (and times) are legally ruled. The ‘normal’ custody situation for a separated father is everyother weekend and half the school holidays. The 50/50 situation is not automatic and if your daughter does not agree then I personally think it would be difficult for the father to get this. Also the age of the child is taken into account, and it is appreciated that babies need their mothers!
Do not let your daughter be bullied, the father cannot decide to have custody whenever he chooses to! I would advise you consult with a lawyer specialising in divorce and custody issues so that you can reassure your daughter as soon as possible. I only wish I had the answers for you. My best wishes to you in helping your daughter and grandson. Allison

Hi Den,

I’m also looking for help with a family law issue, with regards to visiting/access rights.If you come across a good english speaking family solicitor in France, please let me know… regards. Paul

Thank you for your kind words Catherine. I would just like to know, if the threat of 50/50 custody is correct. She doesn’t wish to deny the father access, just regulated, giving her time to establish a routine with her son.

Dear Den
I will leave someone else to answer this as I am not remotely qualified but I just wanted to express my sympathy and support, both for you and your daughter. Best wishes Catharine x