My wife and I had our Decree Absolute granted in April 2016. She lives in the FMH with our daughter, aged 11, under a Mesher order.
Last August I took our daughter to Florida on holiday. For one week, starting shortly before we flew out, I suffered a series of hypertension migraines which were serious enough for me to be hospitalized twice while we were in Florida. I was given various medications, e.g. Lysinopril for blood pressure, received CAT and MRI scans, and advised to make some lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, which I’ve since done. I saw my GP shortly after my return, primarily to sort out the insurance claim for the medical bills incurred, and am due to be seen at the Neurology department at my local hospital in a couple of weeks for a check-up.
I’ve had no recurrence of the attacks during the nine months since our return and have already paid the deposit on a repeat visit to Florida for this coming August. Last month my ex-wife refused to let me take our daughter to Paris as a birthday treat, on the grounds that I might suffer further attacks and English is not the first language there (yes, I know!). She is now insisting, via a solicitor from the Resolution organization, that I provide full details of my medical condition before she will agree to me taking our daughter to Florida this summer.
I am not averse to this in principle but am wondering how far her ‘rights’ extend. I have agreed to pass on whatever report arises from the Neurology referral later this month, and to have a plan in place regarding what should happen in the event of another hospitalisation. However, she and her solicitor have also asked to see all the documentation I brought back with me from the Florida hospitals. I am reluctant to accede to this request on the basis that the state of my health nine months ago is not relevant, and that any evaluation of my fitness to look after our daughter should be based on its current state as per the appointment later this month.
I can foresee a potential scenario in which, possibly after I’ve paid the balance for the holiday, my ex-wife refuses to let me take our daughter to Florida. Am I in a position to request from her an assurance, possibly in writing, that if the neurological examination judges me fit to travel abroad with our daughter then she cannot prevent this?
I can see this from your ex's point of view. It must have been very frightening for a child to find herself thousands of miles from home with a father suddenly in hospital. Who looked after her while all this was going on? Her mother must have been worried sick.
I know how I felt when my daughter was on holiday with her grandad when he was taken ill - and she's in her twenties. She coped quite well but still needed me to provide support and sort out some insurance stuff, safe taxis from the hospital etc.
So I think you should consider your daughter first in this. I would not have been happy with a risk of a repeat performance in France. Most French people do indeed speak some English but the issue here is a young girl on her own in a scary situation.
Do you know how your daughter feels about the planned trip to Florida? Tbh I would be concerned about it bringing back bad memories and worry that this would spoil her holiday.
My inclination would be to propose a trip to somewhere nearer in the first instance, assuming you get a clean bill of health and insurance cover, and leave a return to Florida to another year.
Many thanks for your thoughtful response, hadenoughnow - I haven't forgotten how helpful you were when my divorce started, nearly 4 years ago.
"It must have been very frightening for a child to find herself thousands of miles from home with a father suddenly in hospital." I can honestly say this wasn't the case. I was always conscious and, while I was in a good deal of pain at the start of the two attacks which resulted in hospitalisations, my condition didn't distress my daughter. I might be biased, but she is a very mature and resilient child who takes things in her stride.
"Who looked after her while all this was going on?" On the first occasion, I was hospitalised overnight and she stayed with me in the private room. The second time, she was placed with an approved family by the hospital's welfare organisation (standard procedure in such a case, apparently) for a day and a night. The family took her out, bought her clothes and a computer game, and by her account she had a whale of a time.
"Do you know how your daughter feels about the planned trip to Florida?" My ex-wife contends that our daughter was "severely traumatised" by the experience, but I can't help thinking that if that were true she wouldn't want to go back, and as it is she couldn't be keener (when I asked her whether she felt "traumatised" by the experience, she asked me what the word meant). I also think it's significant that she was given the opportunity to phone her mother by both the hospital and the approved family, and didn't feel the need to do so.
As I've said, I'm happy to put a plan in place to cover a recurrence of such an event, and will agree to anything therein (short of flying my ex-wife out to join us and look after our daughter while I recover). What I'm trying to establish here is whether my ex-wife can legitimately refuse permission for me to take our daughter to Florida if the forthcoming neurological examination gives me a clean bill of health. Am I entitled to seek an assurance that I can book and pay for the holiday because she has no "right" to stop us going?