STBX moved out of our house (and in with his girlfriend) in June. Our relationship has been rough for several years. I stayed because I didn't know how I'd support the kids and myself if I was single.
STBX has been "officially" depressed & bipolar for three years. He's been in therapy & on meds (some have worked, some haven't), he sees a therapist (but I think the therapist is out of his depth. Therapist's specialty is NOT bipolar or depression. STBX won't change therapists). I feel that his bipolar is poorly managed, but he disagrees.
I'm not going to lie. I'm so much happier now that he is gone. So. Much. Happier. I really think my kids are happier too.
When STBX lived here he was either sleeping or out with his girlfriend(s) or cranky as hell. If I tried to go out by myself and grocery shop or run errands...he wouldn't feed them or interact with them while I was gone. He was rude to them on a regular basis and parents in the "oh god, just get over it" method. (once, a long time ago, before the depression & bipolar hit he was an amazing dad & husband...I didn't marry an asshole.) I did all the cooking, cleaning, childcare...you know..everything. I didn't even try to go out for fun stuff because the kids would beg me not to leave them alone with their dad.
The kids are scared of him. Especially my oldest (newly 10). He never hit them or anything like that, but he was mean/rude/unkind enough to make it so that they don't/won't talk to him about things that are bothering him. They like happy dad, hyper dad is a little scary and mean dad is really scary.
After he moved out, he started taking them on Sunday afternoons. I pushed for him to spend more time with them and he also did a couple of weekday evenings (that only lasted a few weeks, then he stopped arranging to see them. I didn't push because he's so unpleasant to deal with). There was 1 time I asked to keep them on Sundays to take them to an activity that was only happening on Sundays (I offered to let him take them to the activity, but he wasn't interested in the activity). I offered to let him take them on another day...any other day he wanted. He declined. He canceled on a couple of the Sundays because he had other plans. The kids opted to stay here and swim on at least one Sunday (we have a big swimming pool). He has also been attending my oldest's marital arts class 3x a week (he sits & plays with our youngest & I run errands). I document when he sees them, cancels or whatever.
That's the background - because my kids are reluctant to talk to their dad and when they came home they would tell me about things they didn't like. For example, he doesn't know what food they like...so they eat it and then come home and ask me to let him know what they DO like. Or that they don't like him making out with his girlfriend in front of them. Or that he needs to adjust our youngest's seatbelt for her. It isn't major stuff. The ex & I communicate by text (he's been really rude to me in person & on the phone..text is easiest for me). He's told me he doesn't want me to communicate kid stuff to him. He doesn't want pictures of what they are doing (fun activities we do or silly stuff around the house) or for me to tell him how they feel about things. He wants to hear it directly from them or not at all.
My oldest (10) is exceedingly angry with her dad (and she misses him & she's sad..all wrapped into one unhappy ball). For the several weeks, she's asked him not to come to her martial art's practice and she's choosing not to see him. My youngest (5) is choosing not to go anywhere without her sister.
STBX insisted that our oldest call him & talk to him on the phone to let him know she didn't want to see him because he thought I was preventing her from doing so. She didn't want to at first and I finally convinced her to leave him a voicemail. (the fact that he thinks I'd keep the kids from him was like a punch in the gut. I'd never do that. Ever. My parents had a horrific divorce and my parents said so many horrible things about each other...I'd never do that to my kids).
STBX thinks my oldest needs to get over it and that I should make her see him. I think that would be a mistake. I also know my oldest...if you push her on something she'll dig her heels in. But if you just let it pass, it will. I offer no judgements or suggestions to her AT ALL. I just say I'm here if she needs to talk and I'll listen and that I'm sorry she's feeling that way she is (sad, angry, depressed). I remind her that her dad loves her and would love to see her. I also offer to let her call or text him if she brings him up. I feel pretty confident that my oldest is doing this because it is something she can control at a time when she can't control that her dad isn't here and that it is normal and will pass.
Whenever we get to the divorce part, I'm worried that I'll be accused of preventing him from seeing them (we have nothing formal of any kind right now). And I'm worried that by not playing by his rules he'll make things harder in the future (I homeschool, he's never been involved with it and would probably like them in school..although he says he won't press it).