Our expert says:
If he felt sure she wasn't right for him, why on earth did he choose to continue that relationship for 5 years ? And why, above all, did he choose to have children by her ? Didn't this, understandably, lead her to expect more from him than eventually happened ?
In such a bitter separation, neither should be confident of what a court would decide about custody of the children. The court is supposed to base it's decision on what would seem likely to be best for the children. Often this might be to give primary custody to the mother, with the father having rights to have the kids spend time with him. But if she is unemployed and lives with an alcoholic mother, then this may not be so clear.
You started by describing yourself as a friend of his, like a pal, but then you're saying he is talking of you as a romantic and long-term partner.
There is no beneit to the children in him going back, if this means they grow up with parents who don't love each other and fight all the time.
Sounds like you all need to do a lot more thinking about what is best for everyone, less selfishly.
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