Divorces test all relationships within a family. As the primary/initial family relationship dissolves or is destroyed, all other relationships get implicated. Even the relationships with Au Pairs.
Previously, when we’ve discussed how divorces affect au pairs, we’ve mentioned things like crazy schedules, divided loyalties, concerns about finances and stability, and even whether one parent can hire an au pair without the other parent’s approval. And, when I saw the subject line of this email (below) that’s what I expected it would be about. I thought this mom’s concern was that she had never had a conversation with the au pair who cares for her children when they are in their father’s custody.
This time, though, there’s a new twist —
What if the au pair has to testify for or against a parent, in court?
Dear AuPairMom —
I was searching the internet for some answers regarding a serious concern for my ex’s au pair. She arrived in the USA in December 2011 to work for one year. I do not know very much about her as my ex refuses to provide any information. The girl seems very sweet, however I don’t have any contact with her except during brief custody exchanges when she is either in my ex’s car or my former residence. I have never spoken to her or been given the opportunity to meet her. I was informed that she does not speak English well, but understands it when spoken to her.
The au pair is supposed to be helping my ex take care of our 2 yr old child. We are in the middle of a divorce and bitter custody dispute over our children. I am seeking primary custody of our child and my ex is seeking joint custody. Our interim custody arrangement is considered joint, but I do have the child 2/3 of the time until our final custody trial in the spring.
My concern is that the au pair is not being told the entire truth about her living situation and about the current custody situation.
It is also my concern that the au pair is not aware that she will be subpoenaed in court to testify during our custody trial.
There is a right of first refusal in my court ordered custody agreement which means that each parent must be notified if we can not be with our children for any length of time. The judge was very specific about this since my ex testified in court that the au pair was hired only to watch the children only in cases of emergencies. My ex has violated this court order numerous times already.
To summarize, I am concerned that this poor kid is completely unaware of what is going on. She is here for a cultural experience and possibly a bit of school. Little does she know, she is going to have to go to court and will be cross examined and ordered to testify about her experiences living with my ex and “helping” take care of our children.
I have the contact number to her community counselor which I got from the au pair agency website, but I don’t want to overstep my boundaries. I don’t want to get her in any kind of trouble or cause any trouble which is why I am seeking your advice.
Is it common for au pairs to get involved in situations such as this and be prepared for court room trials? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have spoken to my legal counsel regarding this issue and before making a legal move, I wanted to see if your advice might be more protective of the au pair. She is an adult, but in my eyes, she needs to be protected also.
Sincerely, Concerned Mom