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Advice please

Hi All

I am completely new to this and find myself in a position that I may need to apply to the court for custody of my 10 year old daughter and 13 year old son.

I will try to briefly describe my position and go from there.

My Ex and I have been divorced since Feb 2005 and alot has happened in that time.  

Basically My children want to come and live with me full time. - Current arrangements are I have every second weekend and Half school holidays.  They want to reverse this and live with me fulltime and do the weekends and half holidays with their mother.
This has varied over the years due to my ex constantly moving from one place to the next.
Over the last 3 years my ex has moved multiple times and my son and I have determined that he has not completed a full school year at one school since Grade 6 - He is now in Grade 9 and he has changed schools 7 times (including the transition from Primary to High School).
My ex wife is unemployed and living on centrelink and I am paying a significant amount of Child Support.  I know that Centrelink is not a huge amount of money and I have no say in what the child support is spent on without causing a huge argument, Yet my children have pretty much nothing.  They are fed yes they have a roof over their heads yes but they are very rarely bought new clothes most of their clothing comes from op shops or hand me downs.  They barely have all the materials they need for school including proper uniforms, books, shoes and as I said before they have changed schools so many times that they have not been able to establish a stable circle of friends.  This has led to a degradation not only in their marks but also in self esteem.  No one wants to be the poor kid at school.  Yet their mother has managed to purchase for herself a Brand new $1500 Digital Camera as well as a tattoo gun and a constant supply of ink which she is quite happy to showoff on facebook.  

She claims she has made money through a Business venture however her taxable income has not changed from centrelink ever and I am still assessed to pay the full rate of child support based on my income as she has none. She has an ABN but she is not declaring any income from this that I am aware of and to be honest I think its a waste of time and money that can be spent on providing for the children.  She refuses to get a job of anykind as this takes away from her creative pursuits.

Every time they come to me I have to treat them for headlice as it is not treated adequately at their mothers house. Their clothes look unwashed and unironed and when I have asked the kids they have told me they have to pick their clothes from the clean washing pile in the loungeroom as mum does not fold clothes and put them away cause its just easier that way.

I have tried to pick up some of the slack by providing them with new clothes at my house as well as the things that whilst they may not need most kids want.  However having nice things at my house is all well and good but not of much use when they cant take them home for fear of items being taken to a pawnshop so mum can buy cigarettes or tattoo ink or god knows what else.

Frankly I have been trying to keep the peace to avoid going to court and dragging the kids through a drawn out court process as every time I have broached the subject of any of my concerns my ex has pretty much bolted and it has taken me time to reestablish contact.  As we have no orders she pretty much gets to do what she wants.

I have tried to bring up the subject of living arrangements with my ex in an amicable way based on the kids wishes and it has basically turned into a tirade of her calling me selfish and wanting to take away her children after she has done all the hard work etc etc etc.

Now at their last visit my kids have informed me that mum is going to move them back to their home town which is 400kms from where i live which will reduce my time with my children from current arrangements to school holidays only.  She got the kids to inform me cause she will not consult me personally about anything.

I lost it - I sent her a text message saying she was not moving and if she did move without consulting me I would apply for recovery orders immediately (Dont think i actually can without a order already in place but I was angry)

Since then and calming down I have done some research into the process and I understand that the first step is mediation.  I have set up a appointment with a FDR provider and we will see where that goes but i expect it to fail.

So my question is if and when that fails what next.  The children want to live with me and I am not going to deny them that opportunity.  I think given my financial position and stability of residence that my chances are ok if not good if forced to go to court but not knowing the system I just dont know.  I would have to self represent as whilst my fiance and I have decent income we do not have a huge amount of disposable income.  Like everyone we have bills to pay and we are in the process of trying to save for a deposit on a house and hopefully have a wedding next year whilst managing other debts and obligations like Child Support, Car Payments etc.

Sorry i guess this was not so brief but any advice is appreciated as I am pretty much in the dark.

I figure my only other option at this point is to not take the kids home when they come to my house next but this strikes me as doing more harm than good.

Help please.

G'day mate,
                  Searching through the site I came upon your post & found it an easy read.I can't believe you got no rerplies to it.Tell me to bugger off & mind my own business if you like but I am very eager to find out how you fared in your case as I for one could sense the honesty & devotion of simply wishing for better for your kids.Feel free to whisper me if preferable.Either way,I hope it has all turned out for you & your kids.
I am surprised as well. Hope things have worked out.
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