AN ACTIVIST with the campaign group Fathers 4 Justice says people have no idea what the legal system is like - until they get caught up in it.
Glynn Clarkson has given an insight into how a turbulent last two years fighting for access to see his children has shocked him to the core.
He split up with his former partner in 2002.
The couple had a seven-month-old son and a three-year-old daughter. She also had a daughter from a previous relationship.
She left with the children and it was only then that Glynn discovered he had no right to any contact with the two he had fathered.
Glynn, 29, of Kirkheaton, had to fight through the courts - running up thousands of pounds in legal bills - for the right to see them again.
He now has them every Sunday and one Saturday night each fortnight.
But he said it has been a titanic struggle which cost him thousands of pounds - and he went for nine months without seeing the children at all.
"When you are a family living with your children no-one ever questions your abilities as a father," he said.
"But when you split up and the State gets involved you have to prove yourself, no matter how many months it takes.
"I was not there for my son's first birthday, never saw him walk for the first time or speak his first words.
"He was a baby in my arms when we split up," said Glynn.
"The next time I saw him he was a toddler. I felt a stranger to my child. That was the worst feeling.
"My daughter remembered me, though. She came up to me, put her arms around me and told me she had missed me."
Glynn added: "I never knew anything about the legal system when this first happened to me.
"You don't have a clue how few rights you have.
"Like a lot of people, I suppose I thought the British legal system was the best in the world. But it certainly isn't when it comes to family law.
"Women often end up with Legal Aid, whereas fathers who work have to foot their own legal bill.
"Women can, through their solicitors, drag the cases out in court until the man's money runs out.
"At the moment, there is no incentive for them to come to an agreement. It would be different under a system of compulsory mediation," said Glynn.