JOE Swash has said that battling his ex over their son Harry was the "best money" he's ever spent.
Joe, 38, and his ex fiancee Emma Sophocleous, 35, dated between 2005 and 2008 and share their son Harry, 13.
Now in a new interview, the telly star said the court battle over custody of their son was well worth the money.
But he admits he feels "quite sorry for Hal for what he's had to go through".
Joe opened up about becoming a blended family with his girlfriend Stacey Solomon, 30, on the podcast, Step Life.
"With me and Harry it was tricky with his mum," he said.
"We had to go to court and stuff like that. So in hindsight is it's a great thing, but yeah, me and Hal, it's been a strange one for Hal, he's had to do a lot of adapting.
"I do feel quite sorry for Hal for what he's had to go through."
Joe said that going to court to settle their differences "changed our lives".
"It's just one of those things, his mum and I weren't agreeing on certain things and we had to go to court," he said.
"We had to do it that way. And that's what courts there for to sort things out.
"And it done exactly that. It's changed our lives."
After the court's ruling Joe's relationship with his son has flourished.
"Me and Hal, we're in each other's lives on a daily basis now," he said.
"We talk to each other every day, we see each other every couple of days, he only lives 20 minutes away from me and at the beginning, maybe even five years ago, it's completely different to what it is now."
He advised other parents having difficulty getting access to their kids to "stick with it".
He explained: "You know, I always said to my mum, when I was in court fighting for Hal, I wouldn't want to spend my money on anything else apart from wanting to see my kid. And it's the best money I've ever spent."
He now lives with Stacey and they had their first son together – 15-month-old Rex – last year.
The Loose Women panellist also has children Zachary, 12, with her ex Dean Cox, and Leighton, eight, with her ex Aaron Barham.
"We couldn't be more blended if you tried," he said.
"And like you said, it is tricky. It's not straightforward.
"There's lot of people to take into consideration. Some of them people might not be as reasonable as other people, you know, so it's a constant minefield of trying to juggle and keep all the parties happy."
Joe says that blending the family together wasn't easy and at first Hal was "jealous" of Stacey's kids.
"It's one of those things really had to build," he said.
"I think initially at the beginning, because my Harry's 13 years old and Zach is 12 and Leighton is eight.
"I think my Hal got a little bit jealous because he thought, my dad's with these kids all the time and he only sees me at the weekends."
But now Harry has realised they're not a "threat" the children have a great relationship and "get on really well".
"They will argue, they'll get on, Harry and Leighton they want to move in bedrooms together, watching them two, is like watching the film step brothers," he said.
"They run round, like, can we build a bunk bed!"
He explained that it's not Harry's fault he's no longer with his mum and it's important to focus on the "magic moments" as a family.
"The thing is they shouldn't know any of that stuff because none of this stuff is their fault," he said.
"You know, it's not their fault that I'm not with Harry's mum.
"It's not the kid's fault. You know, it's something that we've done. It was decisions we made. So none of this is their fault. So as long as we remember that and go, right, this is what we do."
Joe also opened up about his relationship with Stacey and the joys of family life.
"It's okay. And again, me and Stacey, we row all the time, that's all part of it," he said.
"As long as fundamentally we're on the same page that's how it works.
"You know, sometimes it falls apart at the seams really quickly and before you know it two or three people are not happy and you know, it's, it's difficult.
"But you've just got to remember that you get through that stage and you have all the major magic moments when you're on holiday with the kids or like now when he's [Rex] sitting on my lap.
"You know, stuff like that, you can't buy it. No matter how much fame you can get. You can't buy the love of your child. You know, that is just something that's so special."
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