FAMILIES will celebrate Father’s Day next Sunday. However many divorced and separated dads won't be able to see their children. Only 17% of single fathers are the custodial parent, and mothers can restrict contact, even on Father’s Day.

One father, at a Families Need Fathers support group meeting this week in Glasgow, said he only saw his son for two hours a week and wouldn't get to see his child on Father's Day. Another father told how his children live with their mother in Manchester. This year will be his first Father’s Day separated from his ex-partner.

A third father shared positive experiences of previous Father’s Days when his ex-partner has helped his son find a card and a present for him and he had been invited for dinner, as well as being allowed to enjoy bath and bedtime with his son.

Another father told how he had been denied all access to his sons due to his medical problems. He stays across the street from them and said he and one of his sons have a "secret wave", a reassurance for father and son. He added that seeing his sons with his ex’s new partner was an emotional blow. "It feels like I’m being engineered out. It’s as if I’m a ghost".For him, Father’s Day with its adverts on the TV was a day he just had to try and survive.

One man told how when his ex-wife remarried she said that she wished her new husband was the father of their children. Now, being all late teens and above, his children can make decisions for themselves, overcoming periods of negativity and no contact. He showed the group a link his daughter sent him for silly Father’s Day cards.

A final father shared a similar feeling of always being forgotten or ignored. Like some the other fathers who had retained some access, he said he used to play an active role in their lives but with his children now living with their mother in Birmingham, it’s difficult for him to do that. His children have promised to send him a card, but he’s not holding his breath; contact has been on-and-off at best.

It was difficult to hear these stories, these men being denied the right to be fathers. With ex-partners moving around the country and, they say, the legal system not working in their favour, the fathers in the group feel they are constantly beaten back, despite their attempts to be good parents.

Even with the modern conveniences of Skype and phones, contact is limited; and with 42% of marriages ending in divorce, the struggles of single fathers, and their children, are a problem for wider society.

According to a study at McGill University, in Canada, children with minimal contact with their fathers "display abnormal social interactions" and have an increased risk of deviant behaviour.

Not seeing or even being in contact with their children on Father’s Day is salt in the wound for these fathers. Despite all that they seemed positive, focusing on the quality of time they do have. They continue to try and see their children more and more. After listening to them, I can only wish them the best: and a happy Father’s Day.

James Reynolds, journalism student