One father's emotional journey to see his kids
WHEN a South Burnett dad met his now ex-wife in 2001, he could never have predicted the long and emotional journey that lay ahead.
The former South Burnett couple was together for 11 years and married for four. In that time they had two boys.
The man knew the relationship was in trouble when he returned home one day, unexpectedly.
"I put two and two together and caught her cheating," he said.
"He was in the house.
"I found him at a later date in a public place and gave him a touch-up.
"That didn't help, because he was a copper."
While the father and his then wife attempted to reconcile after her infidelity, it just went from bad to worse.
"She said 'maybe we can make things work if we move town'," he said.
But according to the South Burnett business owner, this was only a ploy for him to fund his ex's move to Hervey Bay.
"I paid for the bond on the house, and purchased all new furniture," he said.
He recalls one day when he left the house to pick up their youngest son from Prep.
When he returned, life as he knew it changed forever.
"When I came back, that same copper was in the house," he said.
"He was standing just outside the door and she said, 'here's your stuff. You're not welcome in this house anymore'."
The father went 11 months without seeing his two sons and said it drove him into a dark depression.
"I tried to call the kids and she kept threatening to call the police," he said.
"I could feel that I was going to do something stupid.
"I did the best thing I could which was throw myself into my work."
The fall-out of the divorce was a costly experience for the South Burnett dad.
"I've spent over the $200,000-mark in court, just trying to fight for access to my children," he said.
"We've been to court that many times I forget what has happened."
He claims he lost his house in the settlement as well as a block of land he had purchased.
"I ended up purchasing the land back," he said.
As so often happens in messy break-ups, the father believes his boys were used against him by their mother.
"She wanted the boys to hate me," he said.
But the darkest day he remembers was in 2013 when, according to the South Burnett dad, his ex ran him over in a McDonald's carpark.
"The boys were in the car, she accelerated in reverse," he said.
"It knocked me down with the door.
"The boys saw it.
"I ended up with two cracked ribs and skin taken off my right arm."
His two sons are now teenagers and while he has never shirked the responsibility of paying child support, he welcomed the recent review into the family law system.
"I know three guys who have committed suicide over child support," he said.
"The Child Support Agency is focused at men.
"Women make a living out of child support.
"She was living in a five-bedroom place for $540 per week and I was living in a tent with no running water."