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.

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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

If you have the nasty texts & voice mails saved, i would use them as evidence in court when & if you take him back to sue for primary custody. (Which i think you should!).

Sure, he may be a 'good' dad & loving, but what kind of example is he setting for your daughter? He's teaching her that it's ok to get verbally abused by a man, or that losing one's temper in fits of anger is normal...which it's not. She's going to grow up being conditioned to this type of behavior, then most likely find herself in an abusive relationship one day. Perhaps if you take him back to court, the judge will order anger management/parenting classes for him.

And, not that he would do this, but once she is out of the country, there's no guarantee he'll bring her back. You hear nightmare stories about this all the time. Just trust your gut & your instinct. Men like him are selfish & insecure...they like to bring misery upon other people in order to feel good about themselves. In my opinion, it's better to err on the side of caution. You, unlike him, have a rational head on your shoulders.

1 mom found this helpful

how old is your daughter? My ex has refused to bring my son home before so I won't even let him leave the state with him let alone the country. He is just like your ex a hot head. I actually had to go get a restraining order because he was threatening to come to the house although he is not allowed to pick up our son only grandma can. If you have already told him no you need to stick to it with these type of men if you give them an inch they take a mile.

1 mom 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 know you don't want to hear it, but if you feel her being gone for more than 2 weeks is too much you need to bite the bullet and go with. You said you liked his family and his mom. Even though you are ambivilant you want the other side to have a relationship with her right? Also since dad has an anger issue I would go, because a traveling toddler is not always an angel and you might want to be there to defuse your ex, if he wants to snap at your daughter for being whiney, or crying or over tired etc. IMO

1 mom found this helpful

I would consult a lawyer. Does your ex-husband maintain his Colombian citizenship? As far as I see from my research, a child born abroad to a Colombian mother or father can become a citizen once registered or domiciled in that country. Also, it only take the consent of one parent to obtain a Colombian passport for a child--though there are some travel restrictions.

Does your decree state who is in possession of her passport? Who has the right to make final decisions? It is usually the custodial parent (i.e. the one she "lives" with). Yes, he'll probably cause problems for you when you try to take her to Spain...but there is a big difference between taking your daughter overseas on vacation and taking her to visit a country where he may still have citizenship--assuming your aren't a citizen of Spain.

USA and Colombia have quite strong economic ties, but no telling what would be needed if something went wrong.

You really need to base this decision on YOUR experience with your ex-husband and the advice of a lawyer who can research international custody law.

Good luck. These decisions are never easy.

P.S. I just read your update. If you're not worried about him bringing her back, then it doesn't really matter WHERE he is taking her. It is just a question of how long she'll be gone. The decree usually provides the acceptable timeframes. Use that as a scapegoat...you don't have to allow additional time. Of course, there's not a lot you can do (except) file kidnapping charges if he says "Ok, we'll be back in a week"...and just stays longer. I'd still consult a lawyer and make sure he provides you with ALL flight and contact information.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree that I'd check with an atty to see about taking her out of the country and length of time as you both may be looking to do so. An attorney may be able to advise further as well.

Since you have joint custody, I'm not sure that it would be entirely up to you how long he can have her. (a good reason to check with your atty) I do think it's important to consider how he treats her. From what you posted, it sounds like they have a good relationship. (did I miss seeing her age?) So she may be perfectly comfortable being with him on a trip like this for an extended period of time. It could be a great opportunity for her.

If she does go, no matter the length of time, I think it's important for her to hear your support and enthusiasm as that can help provide a certain level of emotional support for her while away.

How does she feel about going? Again, I'm wondering about her age. Her well-being is what's important and it sounds like you know that. Otherwise, unless there are legalities involved, a bit of flexibility on both parts may help find the best solution.

1 mom found this helpful

I would say no. My daughter is 4 and I KNOW without a doubt that she could never handle going away from me for that long. Even with someone she really loves. It also sounds like he might not be able to handle it for long long either, especially since your daughter would be in a very new environment and her behavior could be more difficult. Two weeks in another country is very different than a weekend in a familiar place.
I also would not do it because it sounds like he is very bad at communicating and if my daughter were that far away for that amount of time I would need to be able to trust him, and that would only come with LOTS of communication.
I don't really know any laws reguarding custody for sure, but it seems to me that even with joint custody the parent would have to have permission from the other to take the child out of the country.
Try to explain the reality of how the trip would be for him and your daughter and that it is just not practical at her age, and has nothing to do with whether you think he is a good father.
Good Luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

After all you have said about your husband, you still think that is a good idea to send your four year daughter out of the country?

No, I wouldn't send her. First, he is not a custodial parent, he sees her once or twice a week for visitation. I wouldn't allow a parent with such minimal visitation and not joint custody to take the child for that amount of time. Also, she is very young, and isnt' used to being away from mom for 2 weeks. Also, your ex is not used to taking care of her for any real period of time. i would not be comfortable with the ex taking the child out of the country at all.

I didnt read ur whole ?. I know people who have let that happen and never got their children back. If it was me I wouldnt do it. Once they r over there if he wants to keep her he will. Not trying to scare you just want you to be aware of what can happen.

I havnt read your other posts and I dont know much about other countries but if he takes her there is he obligated to bring her back to you? I mean will that country honor your custody order? Thats what I would be afraid of. I think 2 weeks is a long time to be in another country with you, I know when my girls would go with my mom for that long(they are very very close to her) its to long for them. It should say in your custody papers how long you each get for vacations, if it doesnt then I would do what you feel is best for your daughter. You know her better than anyone, my girls love their dad, but after just 2 days with him they are ready to come home to mommy and when we were married they were both daddy's girls. Good luck!

I think you should stay firm and not let your daughter go. She is too young still and needs you, and even though he may be a great dad and all, you're the mom and it's not the same. You've never been to colombia before you don't know how it's like, the family may be nice and everything, but it's another country too far away and if she's never been away from you this far for a week or two it's going to be hard on her (and u). So I suggest don't let her go just yet, maybe when she's older, but for now keep her at your side.

Do you have any guarantees that he will bring her back? If you are sure he will bring her back, then I don't see a problem. She is 4 and knows her dad and grandmother and it would be a nice adventure for her.

By ALL means go back to court BEFORE the trip. Let the courts know his intentions. Check on the extradition in Columbia. You might get scr*wed if you let her go and he doesn't bring her back.

My ex and I drew up papers stating that he was taking our son to Canada for a week both summers. The second time I didn't get it notarized or inform the courts. They came back a month later and there was nothing I could do in the meantime. Canada does not have extradition for kidnapping unless the person stole a vehicle worth $5k to take the child there.

Cover ALL your basis. I personally would not let her go without me.

I would never ever ever ever ever ever ever let him take her out of country. He has proven repeatedly that he can't be trusted emotionally. She can go when she is older, and can help herself out of a sticky situation if it occurs. If you do not protect and advocate for her, who will?

Maybe I missed it, but how old is your dd? I am thinking older as in graduated HS and ready to be an adult, btw. Seriously.

if it is more than two weeks, go with her or go the weeks she will be there past 2 weeks. she will visit with family. they are her family. unless divorce papers say no or something of the sort, then just try to work with him on this.

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.

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