My ex and I have a 7 year old daughter together (we were never married). We never had any legal parenting agreement drawn up, though he did sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Since she was 2, he and I have been sharing 50/50 custody. Last month I filed a parentage act for sole custody after finding out my ex was abusing cocaine. He admitted in court to using Ecstasy 5-6 times in the last year, and was ordered a hair follicle drug test by the courts. His levels for cocaine/alcohol abuse came back off the charts: >20,000 mg/pg. There were also allegations of him dealing Ecstasy, but those allegations have not been proven.
He now has supervised visitation, no overnights, and no driving privileges with her in the car. He recently approached me wanting to settle outside of court and compose our own agreement. I wouldn't mind avoiding the $50-100k price tag that goes along with a full-blown custody battle, but naturally, I want to make sure my daughter is safe, first and foremost. Father seems committed to getting clean -- though that remains to be seen. I took the hair follicle test as well and it came back clean. I don't drink or use any illegal substances at all. I'm remarried to a man who is a wonderful step-father to my daughter, and my daughter has a 19-month old brother with us. Both of us are professionals. Dad has a good job as well, but, no wife or other children.
So, assuming he did get sober, I want to know what some likely outcomes would be if we stayed in the court system for the duration of the case? If he and I were to come to an agreement outside of court, I'd like to offer him something comparable to what would likely be the outcome if we saw this case through the courts in its entirety.
1 Answer from Attorneys
We can not quote odds, but based upon your facts, if they are proven, it appears likely that you would be awarded custody of the child. His ongoing drug abuse would mean he would stay on supervised visitation. How does he ever establish he is clean and that he will stay clean. He does have to pay support no matter what. But there is a tradeoff for the savings of money and emotional cost by resolving a case - giving him something. What that is is very difficult to suggest, but there may be something you could offer.
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