25 answers

Ex Husband Wants to Take Daughter to See His Family in Colombia

Hi Mommas, I need some input. My ex-husband wants to bring our daughter to Colombia to visit his family in December and I am feeling ambivalent about it. During our marriage, my ex was verbally abusive and I finally got the sense to get out of the relationship. When he sees our daughter, he is a great dad. She enjoys spending time with him and looks forward to seeing him. He is supposed to visit her twice during the week (he arrives around 5:30 and takes her out for dinner and to a local park before returning her an hour and a half later), but when it's not convenient for him, he only comes once a week. He also has her every other weekend from 5:00pm Saturday, when I drop her off at his place, and he drives her back Sunday around 6:00pm. So you can see that she is with me most of the time. Although most of the time my ex and I can get along fine, if there's a glitch in a plan or some miscommunication, he becomes enraged and yells at me, sometimes in the presence of our daughter. I've learned over time not to engage him when he does this, but I find it obviously upsetting. We're not married anymore...that's why I left him!

So he has been talking about wanting to bring our daughter to Colombia for some time now. I have maintained that I want her first visit there without me (I took her there when she was 14 months) to be a short one, as we don't know how she will react. I've said a week , no more than two weeks. When he first told me a few weeks ago that he and his mom (he shares an apartment with his mom and brother...and I really like his mother and trust her with my daughter) were thinking of going this December, I didn't argue with him about it, as long as he didn't go more than two weeks. Then he told me last week that the plan was canceled since his mom couldn't leave the country after the new year (she's in the process of getting her resident papers). So I was really relieved. However, just yesterday he said the plan is back on. Of course, there was a miscommunication and without going into the details, he started raising his voice over the phone (I hung up), sending me harassing text messages and leaving me a nasty voice message. He wants to be able to have her more than two weeks and he says I'm being really inflexible.

He thinks that I have to have everything my way and it frustrates him (to put it mildly). I don't feel encouraged to work this out with him when he gets so angry at me. I am going to talk to his mother to sort this out, but I wanted everyone's opinion as to how to handle it. I have friends who say she is too young to go without me. It makes me nervous, but I don't want to "ban" him from bringing his daughter to his home country.

So do you think I should allow him to take her? Should I stick with the less than two weeks plan I have in my head? I am hoping to take my daughter to Spain to visit friends there next summer. Will he cause problems for me if I say no? Right now we have joint custody. Should I go back to court to try to get primary custody? Thanks for your help.

***thanks for the input so far. I forgot to add that my daughter will be four in October. My ex (and his mom and sister) has encouraged me over the last two years to bring my daughter to Colombia and make a vacation out of it. They are a very warm family and treated me really well when I visited there almost three years ago. My ex knows that I've been a great mother to our daughter and has expressed his gratitude on many occasions. He is in many ways a good person who has anger management issues. His dad was the same. I don't feel that there would be any danger of a kidnapping. I just have no interest in going. It would not be fun for me to have to spend time with him and his family, even though they are very nice people. His family over there does not have much money, so they would not be able to afford a visit here.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Our divorce agreement doesn't specifically say anything about vacations or even a visitation schedule. My ex doesn't have a stable work situation, so he prefers things to be flexible. I used to get frustrated and angry when he would cancel plans consistently, but knowing I'm providing a stable home for my daughter makes me happy to keep her. The divorce agreement simply says that we have to agree on issues that come up and that since I am the custodial parent, I have the final say. After reading all the posts (thank you for your time, mommas), and after talking to a couple of good friends, I've decided that until my daughter is old enough to articulate her feelings, I will not send her off to Colombia with her dad. I will also be suggesting to my ex that he have her for a week to see how things go. At this point, there have only been three or four times that he's had her more than one night on a weekend. And on all of those visits he's called me frustrated that she doesn't listen to him. He does not use time outs with her and she is a spirited child. I imagine that when he has her just one night, he lets her have her way, avoiding all conflict. I worry that he will not have patience with her.

Depending on how things go with him, I may suggest that I go with her next summer. Since I"m a teacher, the summer is the best time to go with her. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'm calling my lawyer tomorrow to see what I should do. I so appreciate everyone's concern. Thank you.

Featured Answers

I am going to say you should NOT. I have heard entirely too many horror stories about parents taking their kids to another country and the other parent never sees them again. Most notably the guy last year who finally got his son back from his ex's new husband in Brazil, even though the boy's mother had died.

2 moms found this helpful

I would contact a lawyer and find out what stipulations either of you would be able to put on each other regarding taking her out of the country.

1 mom found this helpful

I would say NO. Only because I have friends that are now fighting to get their kids back because the mother went to see her family and stayed in Columbia for 5 months. Once they leave the US its really hard to get them back. My cousins ex took her kids to Africa for a 2 week "retreat" it took her 3 months to get her children back. Only because I have seen this to many times, I would say No. Especialy if he is this aggressive.

More Answers

What does your custody agreement say about this? Is there a provision in there for "vacation" times. For example, when I used to share custody with my son's father (whole other story) or custody agreement/parenting plan stated that we each got two non-consecutive weeks during the year for vacation (meaning we each got to pick two separate weeks where the regular visitation plan was off so that each of us could take our son on vacation without worrying about getting back into town by the other parent's day).

My advice would be not to deviate too far from what you included in that agreement.

I actually think 2 weeks is pushing it as far as time away from you. I'd ask him to cap is visit at a week or ten days.Would your ex be willing to pay for a ticket for YOU so that you can fly down and get your daughter and he can stay on for a longer visit?

Also, not to make you worry unnecessarily, but you need to have some very clear written agreements about this before he takes her. Don't make verbal agreements about your child leaving the country.

On that same note, why keep talking to him on the phone about this? I'm sure you both have email, and that way there is no yelling, no arguing. Tell him that you'll only discuss this via email from now on. Once you reach an agreement, take the time and pay the filing fee to sign a stipulated agreement and have it added to your custody order just in case there are any issues about getting her back to you on time.


3 moms found this helpful

If you do not trust him enough to stay married to him, then I would not trust him with your daughter. You may never see her again. Invite the family to come see her in the US instead. Could you live with yourself if you would never see her again? I would refuse and see a lawyer about what legal rights he/you have to prevent him kidnapping her and raising her in Columbia.

3 moms found this helpful

Why don't you go with them and get a hotel near them?

2 moms found this helpful

I am going to say you should NOT. I have heard entirely too many horror stories about parents taking their kids to another country and the other parent never sees them again. Most notably the guy last year who finally got his son back from his ex's new husband in Brazil, even though the boy's mother had died.

2 moms found this helpful

If a problem arises while he's there and he answers you the way he usually does when he's enraged, or, even worse, hangs up the phone and he is not reacheable for while, wouldn't that be a nightmare for you? Get primary custody before letting her go to his country. I have this specifically mentioned on my divorce papers and yet I went with my son to visit his father the first (and only) time. My son and I stayed in a hotel nearby him and his family so my son would not have his sleep routine changed AND I could be present at any point in time. Countries like Colombia are unfortunately known to not always be easy with respecting other countries' laws and colombian themselves admit their laws can be subjected to "intrepretation". If you get primary custody with an american court, should you get to court because of this trip not happening, you have many chances that the american judge will not let your child go with her father if not under super safe circustamces. Make sure the law is on your side before deciding anything and do not trust his family, like someone mentioned, they are HIS family.

2 moms found this helpful

Don't let him take her. He could decide to keep her there and it could be very very difficult to get her back. Also you don't want your daughter traveling with someone who is abusive. Traveling is stressful it could bring out his ugly side. Also if she is too young to voice her opinion (I didn't see how young she is), I would say if she is younger than a teenager NO WAY! You could use the fact that there is terrible violence and kidnappings in Columbia as an excuse (true too) and even though you've taken her there before you can reconsider based on safety of child. Make sure that you lock away her passport somewhere where he can't touch it.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi C.,
My only advice is this: if you give in to him after he has been abusive and aggressive, you will be rewarding bad behavior (think 3 year-old).

No matter what you have decided, stick to your guns. If he can't start negotiating through this with you like an adult, he should never expect you to change your mind.

2 moms found this helpful

I would definitely discuss this with an attorney but personally, the whole thing would make me way too nervous. I would be afraid of the same thing as others have posted - he takes her out of the country and decides never to return and it turns into a nightmare for you to get her back. Based on his previous behavior, I would not be able to trust him. If he says something, I would just say, "How do you expect me to trust you when this is the way you act toward me?" If he cannot at least give you the respect that you deserve as the mother of his child, he does not deserve your trust.

He might say something about when you want to take her to Spain, but again, that is why you need to talk to your attorney. Keep in mind: it's not like you've ever given him a reason not to trust you, right?

1 mom found this helpful

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