Relations between the former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Levi Johnston, the teenager who almost became her son-in-law, have deteriorated to the point that a court battle is now inevitable, he has told the Guardian.
The dispute is over Tripp, his infant son by Palin's eldest daughter, Bristol: he claims Palin is preventing him from seeing the child.
"I'm up to the point where I can't see my kid again. I'm done. I'm sure we'll end up in court. We're definitely going to court," Johnston, 19, said in an interview in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.
Johnston said there had been times when he had been allowed to see Tripp about once a week, but there had also been periods when he had had virtually no access. He said: "They started letting me see him and everything was fine. But everything got bad again. So I said screw them."
Johnston said his relationship with the Palin family was entering another bad phase where his calls were not being returned, even though he said he was now paying child support.
Johnston said he recognised that taking the legal road would be hard. "It's going to be a tough battle. Basically, it's down to who has the better lawyer. I can just imagine all the cameras that are going to be there – it's going to be crazy," he said.
Palin has responded to Johnston's recent criticisms by using the American media to accuse him of peddling flat-out lies and exaggerations, adding it was unfortunate that he chose to exploit his former relationship with Bristol than care for the wellbeing of their child.
Sarah Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, said: "Other than noting that Tripp's father is always welcome to visit his son, we are unable to respond to these allegations as it is inappropriate to discuss child custody matters publicly."