Before I post in detail the problem in question, please bear in mind:
1. I have ALWAYS actively promoted contact - even when ex refused to see the kids. I have done everything in my power to make sure the kids have a sustainable relationship with their dad.
2. The relationship with the ex is tense at best. He always expects the worst from my intentions. Our divorce was awful. He had mental health issues at the time which contributed. The situation has not improved. He is unreasinable at best.
3. Contact is once a week sleep over on a weekday and every alternate weekend Friday to Monday morning. He was offered more but refused due to work related commitments. He has the kids for about 3 weeks of the holidays.
4. Aside from this time, I get no help at all - practical, parenting or anything else.
So with that in mind:
My partner lives about 60 miles away. He has daily commitments which start at 8am when he collects his kids and takes them to school. He also has commitments to an elderly parent, a pet and a business which make it impractical to move.
I have been loath to move as this would affect the kids in terms of their schooling, contact with dad, friends etc etc.
So we decided to live separately and move between the houses for a few years until our commitments made it more practical to live together. So when I have the kids on the weekend, our home is here. On the weekend the kids are with dad, our home is with him.
However, things have changed somewhat:
1. My partner and I can no longer afford to keep separate houses. It is proving too costly and both our businesses are suffering in the recession.
2. The ex refuses to bring the kids back to look after the pets over the weekend (only once on a sat and dun - he lives 5 mins away) which means my partner and I can no longer see each other (his business means he cannot be 60 miles away over the weekends) except for the odd night here and there. There is no-one available to feed the pets and the kids refuse to re-home them.
3. I am struggling to cope on my own. It is impossible for me to find additional work because there is no affordable childcare after school, during school holidays, inset days etc etc. I simply cannot work full time, or even part time AND manage the kids clubs, after schools, holidays etc etc etc. I have no family in the uk and the ex refuses point blank to help with any of this.
The net result is we are thinking it would be the most sensible thing to sell one of the houses. This would need to be mine because of a) the elderly parent b) the daily routine with his kids and c) his business which is doing better than mine.
So I would need to move 60 miles away, find new schools etc etc. I am terrified because the ex is going to go bananas. It goes without saying the contact routine will need to change.