When to tell kids about boyfriend plus hateful baby daddy

My boyfriend and I have been together for going on 8 months now.

I have three young kids (age’s 7,5, & 3).

About 4 months ago my bf moved into our very small apartment building. He was the love of my life. I am 39 years old; I have been in many relationships. My bf was by far above the rest… at first.

My kids do not see me date. They do not see me with other men. The only man they’ve ever seen me with is their dad. Last time I was with my bd was when I was pregnant with my youngest, over 3 years ago.

My bd is not nice. I show him a general respect and kindness out of my love for my kids. I will Always love my kids more than I dislike anyone! He is always playing the ‘court game’ though. I am a good mom. My kids are my life. I take care of them and put them first always. But I’m always having to pay my attorney to be on the defense. He could never get sole custody, but the fact that he continually tries is disheartening. And expensive.

But now I’m dating this other man who is now also my neighbor. My bf is also a felon (actively on probation). My bd says he’s going to try and get sole custody based off the fact that my neighbor and ‘friend’ is a “criminal”. He says I should know better than to have our kids around a felon everyday.

I don’t think he can do that. But my bd has the money to burn in court; I don’t. It’s seemingly his hobby. My bd doesn’t even know that this neighbor is actually my bf. If he knew I think it could be bad for me. But maybe he can’t actually dictate my life.

My bf and I have had issues since he’s moved in though. Mainly b/c of my bd. It’s an effing drama-fest honestly. Completely ridiculous. I want no part. But I’m stuck in the middle.

My bf keeps wanting me to “claim him” to my kids. I can’t tell if it’s b/c he honestly wants us to be together officially to them or b/c he’s trying to prove a point to my bd.

My bf started drinking heavily about 2 months ago. He would get blackout drunk from liquor for days on end. He would get hateful and verbally abusive. He says he doesn’t remember. My bf tells me now that he only started drinking to “drown out the pain/drama from my bd”. He says that if I “claimed him” he wouldn’t feel that pain he feels and he wouldn’t drink anymore.

We’re now stuck in this vicious cycle.

I believe my bf is losing it. He is gaslighting me at this point. He is a great man… when he’s sober. But he’s so on edge these days that he goes back & forth from sober to liquor drunk.

But even if we break up, he’s still my neighbor now.

I feel so stuck.

Maybe if I do “claim him” to my kids things will get better?

My bf tells me that I’m a liar though; that if I’ll lie to my kids then who won’t I lie to. I can kind of see his point, but I tell him that it’s totally normal for single parents to not disclose who they’re dating to their kids right away (esp when there’s problems in that relationship).

Please tell me your thoughts.