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Father only sees kids once or twice a year due to distance; mother wants more money


Your Question:
Hello Eric,
First I would like to say what you are doing here is amazing and very helpful!

My question to you is we are looking for a family law lawyer in a differnent state then we live in, where the kids live with my husband's ex. Doing this long distance is difficult. What type of questions should I ask before we hire him? The questions I have so far are : Are you board Certified Family Law and Custody speacilist?

What is the firms percentage of non-custdodial fathers? (We are trying to adjust child support as my husband recently took a lesser paying job to be closer to the boys)

What is the firms success rate in representing fathers?

My husband works, while his ex doesn't (though she claims minimum wage from a at home buisness) She is putting both kids in school this year (they are 3 and 6) and yet she is getting paid the ceiling in child support in the state she lives in. Due to the change in income , she is now making more money then my husband per two week check. In two months her spousal support will be over and she is planning on trying for more child support.

With that summerary , what other questions do I need to ask a lawyer? We want to have her deposed to prover her expenditures.

Thank you

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My Answer:
Hi,

Thanks for writing and the nice words.

I asked you for additional information, and you also mentioned your long-distance situation is 1000+ miles, one where the father only sees the kids a couple times a year due to financial limitations.

I agree that you'd want an attorney to depose her and propound discovery on her in order to get an accurate idea of her financial situation, income, and earning capacity. I'm not sure how imputing income (i.e., the court's estimate of her earning capacity) works in the state that you said has jurisdiction, so an attorney in that state would have to advise you on that.

I think that while you'll want to have a nice list of questions akin to the ones that you suggested, it has been my experience that every attorney talks a good talk. Regardless of the answers you get, you still have no idea how the attorney will perform. So, I don't place much stock in an interview with an attorney, during which she/he will be trying to convince you why you should retain the firm.

Rather, I suggest that you try to get recommendations for an attorney practicing in the city where the courthouse is located. Since you don't live there -- unless you have friends or family there -- I recommend that you go to message boards like www.divorcesource.com, Dads Divorce, and especially SPARC. Because the people on those boards have nothing to gain by referring you to an attorney, I think you'll get honest recommendations, if someone happens to know of an attorney in the geographic area you're seeking.

Now, you also let me know that the father would eventually also be seeking to find ways to be better involved with the kids. The challenge he faces is that he only sees them one to two times a year. Note that this isn't assigning blame but rather a review of fact.

For the court to take this man seriously, I think he'll have to show greater effort to spend time with the kids and be involved. Even if it means striking out due to the mother's unreasonable refusals, if he can show a judge that he tried once a month to see his kids-- without success-- the court would likely find it necessary to order greater involvement.

So, I see your approach as the following... first, find the lawyer who can help provide you with some financial relief via reduced alimony and/or child support to more appropriately reflect the actual earning capacity of the mother, if she chose to work.

At the same time, and thereafter, try harder to see the kids any way he can. IF his monthly expenses are reduced as a result of convincing a court to reduce support payments, he has greater flexibility to spend money on travel.

Then, six to twelve months after repeated failures to see the kids (due to the mother), go back to court again.

But... if he goes back to court without making much effort (regardless of reason), I can't imagine he'll have much success in convincing a judge to make orders for greater involvement.

Finally, have him read my webpage What You Must Have.

You have a tough situation, but I think with a good plan, it can definitely improve.

Eric





This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.


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