He Said, She Said: Spouse torn about taking kids abroad Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 August 2017
By Shaun and  Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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My husband has orders that will take him to Germany. I have two children with my ex-husband. My kids live with me, but my ex gets a good amount of visitation with them throughout the year. I have asked my ex-husband to sign the documentation to allow my kids to get passports for our move and he is refusing. Since he won’t sign the documents, my kids will not be able to leave the country with us.  

I am torn between staying behind with my kids or leaving them with their dad to go and support my husband. Our financial state is not great, so fighting this in court is not an option.

 Of course, co-parenting requires two (sometimes four) mature adults who place the welfare of the children above the bitterness and pettiness of their own egos ... sadly, a great number of adults completely lack any capacity to think about the greater good of their children over winning and getting the last shot in.  

The first thing I would do is ask the children what they want and put a lot of merit into where they would rather stay; resist the temptation to lead them in one way or the other for the sake of you getting your way.  Forcing them to stay or go could be very harmful to them and your relationships with them in the years ahead.  

I would also have an adults-only conclave, even use a state-provided or private mediator if necessary. You both need to check your egos at the door and stop concerning yourself with winning or losing, focus the discussion on the children and keep it there. I would have to hear why he believes not signing the document is a good course of action, but on the surface, this appears to have bullying and a gross lack of compassion for them written all over it; they will need passports, even if it is just for visitation and for them to experience the German culture.  

You both need to understand that the kids are paying way more attention than either of you likely realize.  Kids have an innate way of blaming themselves for any and all conflict within a home or Family, often because they are the tools poor parents use to hurt each other. They will no doubt come to see both of your actions as self-serving should you both not put the children first.  If none of these efforts have any impact, I would seek out the assistance of the many child advocacy groups in our nation and see what they can do to assist you.  If at the end of the day he won’t budge, I would sooner stay with my kids in the states as opposed to going with your husband. Someone who cares so little for what is right for his children and only thinks about winning cannot foster a good environment for them to build character.

SHE SAID: This is a tough decision. I have seen couples take both options and both are difficult.  Ideally, of course, you would want to keep  your Family together but, unfortunately for you, your parental rights do not trump your ex-husband’s parental rights.  

There are several variables to consider here. If your children are at what the courts consider a “tender age” (too young to make this decision themselves) it may not be beneficial for them to be separated from a parent if you can help it.  

In my case, I was the Soldier and my daughter went with me but she traveled back to see her father at least once a year. This may not be financially feasible for you.  

Also, you have to consider if you stay back with the children, you will have to support two households and I suspect it will challenge your marriage. I hate to flake out, but with the information you’ve provided, it is difficult to say which would be better for your kids and, when all is said is done, your children come first in this issue.  

My suggestion would be to make an appointment with a counselor of your choice, determine all your options, and decide what would be best for your kids.

 (Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 September 2017 )