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problems seeing my kids
I am having issues with my ex in regards to seeing my 2 girls (ages 2 and 5). it has gotten increasingly harder to sustain a stable time to see them as she keeps telling me I can't see them because they have plans, this usually occurs around the school holiday times, which is the only time I get a full day with both of them without having to do the school run (which takes on average 1.5  hours).
I have tried to compromise with her and she just ignores what I say. Not only is it having a detrimental effect on me, but she tells them things that are confusing to the point that they don't know how to react around me and my girlfriend (of more than a year).
not only does she say bad things about us, she has a boyfriend who moved in after 2 weeks of them dating, to add to my stress I have to see this guy almost every day as I have to work with him.
I am looking for a new job to get out of the situation a bit, i'm also trying to save to get a secure home for the girls if they ever needed me to supply them with one.
my next step is mediation, which I have no clue on where to go and the internet is not very helpful.

I am looking at trying to get joint custody, but I fear that the only way i'm going to be granted that is by going to court. 
at this point in time I am stressed to the point of seeking council.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Hi Helsem , and welcome to the forum.

Sorry to read of your current situation, I can well understand the pain and anguish you're going through. What I'm going to write next won't make you feel any better but from learning myself the hard way how things work within the family court system.

If your ex is basically a good mother in terms of physically looking after the children then without her cooperation and agreement you are unlikely to get joint residency. The way she treats you by mucking around regarding contact will make very little difference, at least for now.

However, there is no reason why you can't have a decent relationship with your children, but it will take time to achieve that. If you've
read a few posts on the forum you'll notice there is a "given" way of trying to solve things before it gets into a courtroom. You've mentioned mediation and if you and your ex can't talk rationally for the children's benefit then you are heading the right way. In terms of where to find mediation services, a call to the local cafcass office would probably enable you to find out what services are available local to you. It's not daunting, you'll go for a meeting on your own to discuss the issues involved, then your ex would be invited in, also on her own, to gain her views on the situation,and if deemed that it might be beneficial, you'll both attend to try to resolve the situation, usually through a few sessions. If mediation isn't successful, or deemed unsuitable or your ex doesn't attend then you are in effect free to apply to the courts and have the opportunity to present your case for what ever it is that you seek.

Court isn't quite as daunting as it sounds, and if you can't afford the services of a solicitor then you can represent yourself. The court isn't interested in who's right or wrong, they are solely concerned with what is in the children's best interest taking all the circumstances into account.

The defacto result with parents who can't reach an agreement is the mum gets a residence order and you'll get a defined contact order. This usually seems to be contact every other weekend and half of school holidays, and possibly one afternoon after school every week. This isn't guaranteed as every case is judged on it's merits. If you do get a contact order and your ex chooses not to follow it she can be brought before the court to explain herself, and ultimately she could face penalties.

And finally for now, you seem well aware of what you need to do to improve your current situation, changing jobs for example, but don't let things eat away at you. Look after yourself mentally, seek the help and support of your partner, and obviously don't neglect her either.

When I was at my lowest when I went through a similar situation to you, it was my partner, now wife, who kept me going and I don't know what would have happened if she wasn't there for me. My daughter has great deal to be thankful for in her Dad,me, having such a caring, supportive person in his life.
Hi Helsem. Norfolk is correct in what he says. Here is a search facility to help find a mediation service near you Do not be daunted by the idea of least once you have firm arrangements in place the girls will know what to expect and you will have some recourse if your ex decides to flout the agreement. Here is the first of our guides to the court process: It's written by a lawyer and clearly lays out the whole process and what you can expect. We hope some of the above information helps you. Do keep us updated and let us know how you get on.

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