He may have outrun Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard, but John Schneider is finding real-life troubles aren’t as easy to conquer. He’s four years into a bitter divorce from his second wife, Elly Castle, was sentenced to a three-day jail term for being behind in his alimony payments and, worst of all, “I really have no relationship with my three adult children,” he exclusively lamented to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “It has been a very tough time and if it wasn’t for the experience of Dancing With the Stars, I think it would have been much tougher.”

The actor and musician didn’t make the cut on the Nov. 5 episode, however, and teared up while talking about his kids. But John, 58, still said, “doing the show gave me such joy. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to put aside [my troubles].”

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Leah, 33, Chasen, 26, and Karis Schneider, 24, haven’t communicated with their father for several years, but he never gave up “hope they would show up at DWTS,” he said. They never did, but John finds comfort with his girlfriend of four years, film producer Alicia Allain, without whom, he said, “I wouldn’t be smiling.”

He’s also pouring his sadness into new music, including a song he’ll sing on DWTS’ Nov. 19 finale, “Maybe Tonight,” based on his unfulfilled hope of seeing his kids. “I find the best thing to do… I pick up my guitar,” he shared. “Country music is so great because we’re not afraid to write from personal joy or personal defeat.”

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John hopes his music will help him reconnect with his family. “The world will hear it,” he said, “but more importantly to me, one day my kids will hear it.”

For more on John Schneider, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!