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.