Mov­ing for love could harm bond with chil­dren

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­

Dear Read­ers: A Jan. 26 ques­tion from a man, sep­a­rated a year, and con­sid­er­ing mov­ing across the coun­try to be with “the love of (his) life, prompted strong re­sponses. His move would mean leav­ing be­hind his own three young sons to live with this woman and her triplet daugh­ters.

Reader #1: “I’ve been in the ex­act same sit­u­a­tion as that man, and moved far from my two-year-old daugh­ter 16 years ago, for a ‘new’ life. How­ever, I cried ev­ery day, my ‘new’ life crum­bled, and I was back 89 days later.

“Thank­fully, I had enough sense to get back home. I had im­mense per­sonal growth and in­sight from the ex­pe­ri­ence and am a bet­ter man for it. But I lost the close bond with my daugh­ter, and I’ve strug­gled to main­tain what I got back.

“Love is not let­ting 5,000 kilo­me­tres hin­der love from grow­ing. And it’s the glue that makes life worth liv­ing. If it’s true love, a cou­ple will make it work. But to leave your chil­dren, that love pales in com­par­i­son to the long-term dev­as­ta­tion to the child’s life. This man’s sons will have aban­don­ment is­sues for the rest of their lives and will never for­give him. Noth­ing’s more im­por­tant than be­ing the best fa­ther he can be.

Also, the amount of pres­sure on the new woman isn’t sus­tain­able. The im­mense loss his kids will feel is crush­ing. As you rec­om­mended, he needs coun­selling to learn to cope with his cur­rent life.”

Reader #2: “He’s ‘sep­a­rated,’ not di­vorced, and he’s al­ready con­sid­er­ing a cross-coun­try move for a woman he hasn’t known for very long.

“He should be fi­nal­iz­ing his di­vorce be­fore he makes a ma­jor com­mit­ment to a woman and her three kids. Then, if he thinks he can be full-time fa­ther fig­ure to chil­dren who aren’t his, and part-time (at best) fa­ther to his own sons with­out caus­ing a lot of re­sent­ment from them, he’s be­ing naïve.

“His chil­dren will see this as it re­ally is — he’s choos­ing an­other per­son’s chil­dren over his own flesh and blood.

“What will he re­gret more — los­ing a woman he doesn’t re­ally know well, or re­spect from his chil­dren?”

Reader #3: “This fa­ther will be aban­don­ing his chil­dren. They will not ac­cept his de­ci­sion. He will ruin their re­la­tion­ship, they will grow up with­out a fa­ther, and they will re­sent him.

“Fur­ther­more, he’ll be leav­ing the ev­ery­day heavy lift­ing to the mother, as­sum­ing that she’ll be able to han­dle ev­ery­thing, while he’s ab­di­cat­ing the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that he signed up for when he be­came a fa­ther.

“If he’s any kind of de­cent hu­man be­ing, he will stay near his chil­dren and be the fa­ther they de­serve.

“At this point in their lives, that is what mat­ters. Not his hap­pi­ness. Their sta­bil­ity is the most im­por­tant thing. Leav­ing would be the ul­ti­mate act of fool­ish­ness and self­ish­ness.”

Sis­ters feel vul­ner­a­ble to sib­ling

Q. Three sis­ters and their mother own a house. One sis­ter lives there and is ex­ecu­tor of her mother’s liv­ing trust, which stresses equal dis­tri­bu­tion of as­sets. The mother has died and the ex­ecu­tor ended com­mu­ni­ca­tions with her sis­ters. She doesn’t an­swer the phone; texts are “un­de­liv­er­able;” let­ter mail brings no re­sponse. Yet all at­tempts to con­tact her have been friendly.

How do we two sis­ters pro­ceed? How vul­ner­a­ble are we to an ex­ecu­tor who may have very self­ish mo­tives?

A. Get to a trusted lawyer im­me­di­ately — some­one who’s sep­a­rate from your sis­ter’s lawyer. Ask that your lawyer speed­ily in­ves­ti­gate what as­sets ex­isted at the time of your mother’s pass­ing. Your sis­ter may feel she has spe­cial en­ti­tle­ments due from liv­ing in the house (and per­haps from care-giv­ing).

If there have been any changes in your mother’s will or wishes, from what you two be­lieved true, your lawyer will check when and how these changes hap­pened.

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