Marriage breakdown with kids

Hi everyone, I am in need of some advice.

My husband has left us on Thursday and we have two children. We own a property here and have been living here for 5 months. I home educate them and have been doing so for 8 years now. He says that if I do not agree to go back to the UK with him and put them in school then he will go to court and try to get custody.

I really need to know my rights at this point. He also says he does not love me anymore. We are in such shock. It’s been a blissfull 5 months and I didn’t have a clue how he felt.

Does he have the right to force them back to the UK? If there is anyone out there who could help I would be so grateful.

thanks so much

Gill xxxx

I think you'll find these sites useful/

Thanks Penelope. xxxx

I've been through this too, well actually I'm still dealing with issues 2 years on... If I can help at all don't hesitate to call

I would advise getting a lawyer ASAP and trying to stay focussed on the long term needs of the children AND yourself.

The big issue is that you are going to need to work to support yourself and having two children at home is going to make that impossible!

Good luck, focus long term, next year you will be happy


You can also apply for legal aid if you need it - it's called "aide juridictionnelle". A French family affairs judge will never hand custody to the father as long as the mother is fully functioning and able to look after her children. I do think though, that you should give your children the social benefit of going to school - you might find other mothers a source of support too.

Sound advice. Open a dossier and record everything, most important go to the gendérmerie if possible with a francophone or someone who speaks French, to declare a main courant to report the fact that your husband has left the domicile fixe. This is only an official document of record and no police action is taken, this document must be kept by you in your personal"dossier" The tendency to forget or mix up or confuse so it is imperative to have events in a chronological order. It also provides traceability of present and possible future desertions. This is in case you need this in the future. Feel very much for you as I can relate to what is happening.

Bon courage

I am going through a similar thing at the moment - wife gone back to the UK, and divorce proceedings instigated in both countries - whoever wins the jurisdiction/domicile issue will have the hearing in their respective country. I’m going through a very hard time at the moment, and it’s all very stressful. I sympathise completely. Luckily, there are no children involved in my case. Feel free to PM me if you want more information.


Thanks Amber,
My worry is that it wont be amicable because we can’t agree on money (he doesn’t want to give me any) and the schooling issue. I’m going to have a chat with him on tuesday but not sure if we will get anywhere.
Thanks again
Gill xxx

Hi Tracey,
I’m re reading all the messages I got as my head was not all there 4 weeks ago!!! were you able to divorce via the UK but still live in France?? my husband is going back to the UK very soon so would that make a difference?
Gill x

Hi Barbara,
I have just sent you an email.
Gill xxx

One other thing, Gillian. This was advice I got years ago and I think it’s worth mentioning. If you haven’t already done so, then get your hands on every single piece of paper you can think of that you might need: bank account information and statements, marriage certificates and documents proving citizenship and legal residence, email and so on. Documentation is absolutely essential if it ends up in court anywhere in the world. And sometimes this documentation has a funny way of magically disappearing when one spouse decides to leave…


Gillian, That is beyond awful. I agree with all the folks who are urging you to get legal advice. From the legal advice I have had in the past my understanding is that you can’t remove children from their “country of residence” without the other spouse’s approval. So, for example, I could not move back to the US and take my children there without my French spouse agreeing to it. That said, your situation may be different and there may be other variables that I don’t know about so legal advice is an absolute must.

Take care,


Hi Gillian,

He definately can’t make you go back to the UK! I went through something very similar, the assistante sociale will get your benefits sorted out, but she can’t help you claim any chipd support from your husband. Go and seea lawyer, mine filled out A form for me for l’aide judiciaire and it cost me nothing. The CAF can gve you child support financial help while you’re waiting to go to court, if you need any help I would be more than happy to help, I work in Narbonne so I’m not that far away…0672325215

Hi Gillian

Thats really sad, I am so sorry for you, however I do know one legal thing, you must go the local gendarmerie and let them know that your husband has walked out on you and the children, this cn then be used in your favour during the court battle of custody for th children

Thinking of you and you can also contact me anytime in the evening 0498122226 if you feel the need to chat :slight_smile:
Take care Anne Marie xxx

Hi Gillian. Don’t know how things are going for you at the moment, and sometimes it can feel a bit much when trying to continue alone with the practicalities, whereas before they were shared. I’m not too far from you (i’m in Lagrasse), so if ever you want to come over, just for a coffee and get yourselves and the children out of the house for an hour, please give me a shout. 0468 49 30 57. Also, my email is In the meantime, seems like there’s lots of good advice here on SFN. If you don’t drive, I can pop over to you. xxx

Absolute basxxxxrd

I’d love any advice please Emily!!!
Gill xxx

Hello Gillian, I am so sorry to hear about this, what a mess. We had to go to court in the UK to get permission to bring my daughter here as my ex refused us permission. However, since then we have had all kinds of problems with the ex and have been through the french courts too, so I have plenty of experience of the kind of horrible thing you are talking about. Also our break up was very nasty and we were in court a lot beforehand too. My advice is, get a good lawyer, without question, and immedilately. You should not have to communicate with your ex, it must be awful, much better to have a lawyer to handle communication so you can get on with trying to get on.

I can recommend our lawyer in Montpellier without reserve, he is a genius and also speaks a bit of english too.His assistant frederick has some english too. He is:
Maitre Jean-Baptiste Bene

They specialise in family stuff and are extremely effective. They will also advise you about getting free or aided advice according to means testing. If ;you are too far away for them to be of use, they may be able to suggest somebody more local to you. In the UK, if you need one there, I completely recommend YVA solicitors, specifically Chris Yiannakas, he is a specialist in family law, is extremely effective and very to the point too, on the list of law society specialists too and does legal aid work. You could probably phone him too, but really do say that Kitty and David Abse sent you, it will help! They are at
They also did my husband’s divorce (not from me…), they are great.

In the meantime, my advice is to take the phone out of the wall or get somebody else to come and answer it for you so you don’t have to speak to your ex or listen to his threats. Make a standard letter to respond to any letters you don;t want to read, explaining that all correspondence should go through your lawyer. Thhis will not stop you communicating directly with him later if that is what you want but remember you don’t have to do anything that he says any more. But please take legal advice fast, because as your kids aren’t in french school you might have a weird situation going on. Your kids have a lot of rights here too. And change the locks. and don’t sign any agreements until you have had legal advice. Nothing happens quickly and he will have to go to court in France not the UK to take them out of the counrty as far as I am aware if you are resident here, which you may be already, especially if you have no home in the UK. so dont’t panic.

I haven’t read any other responses to this but sorry if it is all the same, do contact me if I can be of any other use. And you will get through this and you will be fine, better off in fact it would seem.

Bon courage and sorry for the slowness in replying to your message, I was in the UK until last night.

Gill, please go to the Social. Everything does depend on how long you have been living here in france and if you or your husband have paid into the system. Also, you will have to sign on at the maison d’imploi if you do not have an income, which will mean seriously thinking about putting your children into a French school, Not sure if you get any help if your are educating your children yourself, but worth looking into. Do you have Carte Vital??? After my divorce Previfrance allowed me to have a year still attached to my ex husbands social number, but I still have to pay the top up insurance for all of us, then I have to find my own. You may have already applied for CMU. I hope you have cover. I think that there are too many things for you think about at the moment and I am, although trying to help and give advice are probably just adding to your stress. Social is first step, they are very good where I live. Hope you are feeling a bit brighter today. Jackie xxx

Hi Gill,

Its against the law for him not to pay, unless he does not work, he must pay. My ex husband pays and if he stops I can immediately take him to court, We agreed on an amount and its all signed for, He can get arrested for not paying. Go to Social like Catharine said, first step!! they have all kinds of info for you about exactly this situation and get a good lawyer. Many thoughts for you and have a hug too. Jackie xxx