Many divorced fathers find themselves in your situation. I am sorry. Kids need their fathers – even imperfect ones and our culture simply doesn’t get this. Certainly, mothers aren’t perfect, and children are allowed to spend more time with them in most cases.
You have done many things right – living right near your children, being involved in their school, sports, etc. Here’s what’s most important: whether you see your children or not, they know that you are available and fighting to see them. This means more than you know to them. They pass your house on their bikes or the way to school, they know that you are on the field with them and this is significant to them.
Here are three things I strongly encourage you to do:
First, get a good lawyer. You don’t want the kids to see you duke it out with their mother but the only thing that can get you more time is either a good lawyer or Friend of the Court (if you have those in Missouri.) It’s sad, but fathers must fight for their children a lot harder than mothers.
Second, always pay their bills and never let them hear their mother complain that you don’t. This is one way you can keep her from pitting the girls against you.
Third, never, ever, withdraw from your daughters. Many fathers become so discouraged that they throw up their hands and quit. DON’T. Believe it or not, your children will be grown soon and they will have a choice about how much they want to see you. When that day comes, you want to do everything that you can to make sure that they know you, know you love them and most importantly that you want to be with them. If you back off anytime between now and them, they will assume that you gave up on them.
I know that this is terribly hard and unfair. But remember this: God-willing, you will have 40-50 years with your girls. They will move out of their house, get married and have children of their own. You will have many years of good times together so hold on during these painful years and be ready with open arms when they are free to choose more time with you.