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Newly Seperated and 2 kids

First post so please be gentle.

I was wondering if I might be able to draw on the wealth of experience out there please. I was together with ex for 8 years, we have 2 kids age 4&6, never married and never bought a place together - thank goodness - a few less headaches.

We have seperated, I have stayed in the place we rented and she has gone on to rent another place, we're in a small village and about 500 yards away from each other.

My work has a variable shift pattern roster so no one week/month/ year will be a set pattern. She has said each month when my roster comes out we will sit down and work out what days work for me to see the kids. it's working out about 2 nights a week, sometimes 3. We have agreed what the amount I should pay is for maintenance and this is all recorded via text messages etc, no formal agreements.

Unfortunately I can feel my relationship with my
kids deteriorating - She has them circa 5 nights a week and I only have them 2, so the relationship is going to change - I understand that. Lastnight I suggeated i'd like to make it more like 3 nights a week where possible and she will not budge, "No, 2' is fine, sometimes 3" ! We've not been a couple for a long time, but she only moved out 2 months ago so it's all pretty new.

When I say but my relationship with them is deteriorating she says "well you weren't interested for years (i was I was just busy working and she was a very busy mum at home looking afternoon with kids ) why should I suddenly give up my time with them ? "

I have said,"look, the past is the last, if we end up going to mediation or similar they are not going to care about past arrangements, we lived under the same roof and saw the kids every day !, right now 2 nights sometimes 3 just isn't working for me - at the moment we are flexible and swap days to help and work around each other and i'd rather we didn't get into a pi$$ing contest".

I'm not sure what to do and would welcome some shared experience ? I recognise my arrangement may sound great compared to what some have out there.

should I -

leave it because mediation or some legal agreement likely wouldn't change the outcome ?

leave it - and hope slowly she wasnts to have more of her own life it will slowly become 3 nights

apply for mediation and get something formal in place now so she can't start being difficult and making it even less.

our situation is we just grew apart, she has met but is not living with anyone else. The kids like to spend time and nights at her parents too they are also local but really don't feel that should be taking / reducing my time with them.

Would mediation/legal be likely to agree more time than I have at present ? I have a stable home and job etc just varying work hours - but I'd find a way to make it work - i'd be quite happy for them to spend half their time with me.

I don't feel the current split of about 8-12 nights a month with me and the rest with her is very good for the kids relationship with me.

Thanks in Advance !!
I would accept the 2 nights a week and have a daytime contact at weekend if possible. Its very good she is also willing to work round your work schedule and you are communicating. I am sure also in summer holidays and other school holidays she would let you have 3 nights a week . You want to avoid family court whilst communication is fairly good at moment and doesn't seem at this stage she is not wanting u to see your children
thanks for the swift reply, i appreciate that at present the 2 nights sometimes 3 is okay and the comms and flexibility is paramount - believe me, I've been stepping on egg shells to make it happen - because I don't want to make it worse - she is ten year younger than me and just seems to be a lot less mature or level headed in the topic and unwilling to budge. I feel particularly robbed that she just said "No", without even thinking about it. The unfortunaye situation here seems to be that she holds all the cards and strings at the moment and I would like to know that if she does start to get entrenched / positional and making life harder what would be my fall back position - what am I entitled to in terms of time with my kids etc - i assure you I have no intention of going for 50-50 because eg 35-65 and flexibility and a good working relationship is worth so much more - but i'm only asking really so that I know where I stand if it came to blows - which I hope it won't be can be avoided at all costs - I have read "how to be the best seperated parents" book which is full of great tips and things to watch out for with the kids - i asked her to read it too - because it has some top tips on these things - but her line is, I don't need to read a book and the kids will be fine ! - this is the "I'm fine you're the problem mentatlity issue I'm dealing with" and "it's better for the kids if they spend more time with me" - I mean really !? better for who, the kids or her !? certainly not me and my relationship with them.

Agggghhhhh - again - I respectfully recognise many others have much worse dynamics going on.
you are describing what I am going through and I am 4 + years down line. If you go to court be prepared for loads of accusations/allegations and a long period of seeing children..up to a year as that's what happened to me . all you can do is let it go above your head and don't react to any of it as hard as it may seems. if u ever hear I will ring the police run a mile as that's where all the harrasement stuff starts and she can do it to obtain free legal aid. I don't think a court would give you much more than 2 nights a week due to your work schedule and children being at school and if contact was ever stopped you could end up waiting over a year just for an overnight stay.
Why don’t you negotiate with her for more of the school holidays when you have annual leave , bank holidays and special days as well? They all add up.
Hi Warwichshire1 - Yuk - that sounds terrible, so sorry to hear you're having such a torrid time.

Hazy - Unfortunately in my job, leisure industry, school holidays is when I am busiest and securing or trying to get leave in those periods is next to impossible, I'm lucky if I secure a weeks leave in the school summer holidays, sometimes none at all.... which incidentally leads me on to a further thought process.....

probably not for the present moment in time, but one of applying to have them take a week unauthorized absence from school once a year just so I can go on holiday with them when I get my leave which is normally outside of school term. That obviously seems like light years away but obviously if I can keep the relationship 'sweet' so she feels she is 'winning; then maybe that will happen. I had a family holiday booked for the end of the summer holidays this year, managed to secure the leave and to date she has said there is no problem with me taking them without her (she was booked on it too) , though she has said it will be difficult for her not to see the kids for that long, should I ask for it in witting to cover myself ? Its an awful lot of money and Id hate for her to just have a change of heart, lose the holiday and the time with the kids and the money spent......
Yes this is hard. Whether you are there 3 days or 2 days / nights. In my opinion wont detract from the love your children have for you, if they know you are dad.

I have focused on that for nearly 2 years to the detriment of my own lift. Im still single, and she moved onto the next one within a matter of two months tops.

You need a system which also enables you to progress as a person and meet new people and hopefully a new partner in time whilst still being a dad.

If you go to court she WILL make you out to be as bad as humanly possible. They all do in that situation, so prepare for it. If you do go to mediation, research hard, know what you want and think and write down how that benefits the children
Get a court order. Get every other weekend, a couple of days on the other week and half holidays. Get a new job.

I’d write a longer message explaining why but I’m very tired. Basically any agreement not made but the court is worthless and you need to change jobs because as you have seen, your relationship will be sub optimal with your kids otherwise. Good luck.

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