Hello, out there.
I'm new, hurting and scared about pending divorce. Long story short:
A 2nd DUII in 3 year period caused wife to force me out and petition for divorce. Long time drinker, (rarely drunk), quit cold turkey 1 year ago on the 19th. Verifiable AA attendie, Divorce Support Group attendie, Therapy attendie (dealing with emotional/behavioral improvements). No history of violence, anger, neglect, abuse. Just in an unhappy relationship of 17 years, 15 married.
We have two girls, ages 6 and 8, and I was more time-involved than wife because of her retail schedule. I was a self-employed contractor with flexible schedule, so I did most extra-carricular activities, social events, getting them home from daycare, etc, for most of their lives. I was the main cook in the house, we shared housekeeping equally, though I also built the house and maintained everything.
She's got her lawyer convinced I'm an alcoholic and should have no custody, only minimal visitation. I've been out of work for nearly a year, living in a relative's spare room. I want to get joint physical custody, to be a family again with my daughters. I will need spousal support to rent a home suitable to have them. I will need child support in order to be able to feed and cloth them. My soon-to-be Ex makes $9k/month, my contribution is assumed to be minimum wage, $1456, (I'm currently working 15 hours per week as a minimum wage janitor).
My research tells me I'm likely to be successful suing for spousal support, but being a father is most important to me. Hoping to convince her or the court to have a "two household" family, wherein they live with me half of every week while she works her 10hr days, then live with her on her days off. We'd each end up with alternating 3-day weekends, which sounds pretty good to me.
Any thoughts on the chances of my getting joint custody? Some say no way with my DUII, but honestly, there's no other record of criminal behavior, abuse, or neglect because of my past irresponsible drinking. (I fell asleep twice in 2 years while reading to them at night before she got home, and twice in 2 years the daycare lady called her to come pick the girls up because I had been drinking. Neither time was I tested or verified to be over any legal limit, which I may or may not have been). In the two years prior to our separation, I had drastically reduce my drinking, never had it in the house, and had no incidents of overdrinking prior to my DUII.
I was an excellent father before being forced out of my home, (temp custody and possesion of residence order), always was deeply involved with my children. I'm even a registered Girl Scout! I think I've got a sympathetic judge, as he said at the emergency custody hearing that when I got on my feet and had a place with room for them, come back and see him about getting overnights added to the visitation schedule. I hope above all else to gain Joint Custody with a nearly 50/50 living schedule, to be a family, not living alone with visitation rights, only.
Can't afford representation on my $500/month. Looking to go back to school and change careers, so I can support a household in the future.
Any thoughts from out there? Sorry to be so long-winded, but this is the lowdown. Wagntail