Again, I do not know how I can thank all of you enough.
Based on your answers I have created a list of things to discuss with my lawyer tomorrow.
One last question: How should I proceed in behaving when I communicate with her about the children?
i.e: She clearly states in her last e-mail that I should not make any plans for the summer holidays with them and that she is trying to enroll them at a French school.
I did not reply to her thinking I should consult with my lawyer, first but any thoughts on what should be an acceptable behavior that will not get me into trouble in court (I don''t want to be too nice or placid so that she will turn and say I didn''t push therefore I didn''t want to have them after all...)?
It is a criminal offence of international child abduction to remove children permanently from the UK without consent from all those with PR for the children or permission form the courts is required. As others have said if children are relocated without the appropriate consent they would be repatriated so the courts here can decide the way forward.
If you don''t consent to the move your wife will need to apply to court for a specific issue order. Court proceedings can take 8 or 9 months. She will need to show that her plans for living arrangements, education, finances, contact etc are practical and well thought through. A dim view is taken of someone who acted unilaterally/rashly and tried to move abroad without the appropriate consent, hasn''t facilitated contact or hasn''t a well established relationship with a new partner.
Having said that should leave to remove the children be granted the last thing you need is a resentful and resistant parent if it can be avoided. To that end if it becomes apparent your wife is likely to be successful it may be more constructive to negotiate arrangements for contact and travel during the court proceedings rather than oppose the move altogether.
So, if she does not have my consent (and how does she get it since she hasn''t officially asked me for it? IS it a form I need to sign? How does she get my consent?)
If she tries to get permission from the court will I be notified?
She claims that she can''t afford Legal Aid, although she states that she needs the backing of the courts, as she puts it, before she lets me see the children again. Can it be that she is buying her time?
Sorry, I forgot to say that holiday abroad are different. Strictly speaking unless a parent has a residence order in their favour they are advised to obtain consent from the other parent to take the children abroad so they don''t fall foul of the Child Abduction Act 1984. Consent shouldn''t be unreasonably refused and taking children abroad to enjoy the usual family holiday for up to one month is reasonable unless there are welfare concerns or a history of non compliance with contact orders.
If you consent to to the move a solicitor can draft a formal agreement. If you don''t consent she will need to apply to the courts for a specific issue order and serve you with the papers.
Alternatively you can apply for a prohibited steps order to prevent the move at least until proper arrangements are in place. The disadvantage with a PSO is that it is perceived as aggressive. Bearing in mind what I said about resent and resistance it can cause more damage than necessary to long term family relations. .
As far as contact is concerned before a court hears a case parents are expected to attend a mediation Information & Assessment Meeting apart from a few exceptional cases. You can put this in motion at the same time as applying to court.
It may be that mediation or negotiating through solicitors will give your wife a reality check. Contact may be resumed earlier rather than waiting six weeks or so before a first court appointment and then many months before the court makes a final decision if no agreement can be reached.
I already had my solicitor refer us to Mediation Services in our community but my ex wife called her (after receiving my solicitor''s letter) and said she cannot go to mediation as she does not have the money to pay for it.
After this insident did I receive the e-mail informing me about the enrollment to a French school and refusing summer holidays. She has also blocked access to my parents for visits.
Since mediation was denied, what do I do now and how can I trust whatever she might sign in private?
I realise resources might be an issue but could you offer to pay for the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) just to get things moving forward quickly? The requirement is to attend a MIAM to decide if mediation is appropriate and if your wife applies for legal aid it can cover mediation. Costs for a MIAM can be as low as £70 to attend individually and there is a reduction for both parties attending a joint session.