Kevin Saville, a family lawyer in Chicago, answers:
If he has historically been involved with the children, this may be his way of pressuring you in some manner. If not, it seems unlikely he will suddenly want to become active. Most judges will encourage both parents to be as involved as possible, but cannot force a father to exercise the visitation he is entitled to if he chooses not to. You have some options which your attorney can fine tune to your local statutes and customs: you can insist that if he is going to cancel a visit that he be responsible for baby sitting costs you incur, you can ask that he be responsible for all costs of children’s activities, you can argue that you are entitled to a larger amount of child support because he will not be providing any parenting time and therefore be paying for meals or activities while in his care. You can ask for greater contribution to the cost of education, kids’ vacations or medical care in other words, hit him in the pocketbook if you can to get some re-imbursement for the greater role you will have to play due to his indifference.
Unfortunately these suggestions are things that he will have to agree to as you discuss settling the case. If he won’t agree to them you will have to ask the judge to provide some relief as you conduct your trial. What you should do in the meantime is have a children’s representative, or guardian ad Litem appointed so that the needs of the children are represented. This person is usually another lawyer who will work with everyone to see that the kids’ needs are properly addressed. A good children’s rep can work with your husband and his attorney to develop a richer relationship with the children or, failing that, to help you get the kind of relief you will need if he follows through with his threats.
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