Initiating a Custody Battle

Because my ex-wife had not allowed me to see or speak to my son, my only course of action was to seek custody of Cameron. I had absolutely no idea of his current state at this time, both emotionally and physically. My lawyer hired a private investigator to get more information. That same PI served the court papers to Tara for the petition to modify the divorce decree, the first step in a custody battle.

Prior to this date, Tara had remarried. I was living in Arizona, and she resided in Utah. One of the many times I called to speak with Cameron, Tara said she had something important to ask me. I said that I called to speak to Cameron first and then I would talk to her. Tara told me that Cameron was not available, as she had told me virtually every time I had called in the past. Then, she proceeded to ask me if I would give Cameron up for adoption. “You were just a sperm donor,” She said to me. Those words hurt me emotionally at the time, but I have since considered the source, a deranged bitter woman. I told her, “Listen to me; under no circumstances whatsoever would I ever consider giving up Cameron for adoption. In fact, I have tried everything that I can to get you to let me see and speak to him, just as the court ordered you to from the beginning.” She gasped and then hung up on me, without another word.

So, I flew from Arizona to Utah to make this court date. It wasn’t a long session, just long enough to get my accusations on an official document. The modification was basically an addendum to the divorce decree that stated what my intent was, to seek custody of Cameron. There were also some orders reiterated by the judge and other stipulations added to the previous decree. They were as follows:

  1. That Tara should be ordered to reimburse me for my attorney’s fees and costs incurred in bringing this action before the Court.
  2. That Tara is not allowing me to exercise my visitation rights with Cameron. That I have not seen him since January 3, 1994, except for one Court ordered visit on November 4, 1994.
  3. That it is in the best interests of Cameron that he maintains a meaningful relationship with me.
  4. That Tara fails to keep me notified of her current address and telephone number to prevent me from having contact with Cameron.
  5. That Tara tells Cameron that I am not his father and that her present husband, Scott Dendy, is his father.
  6. That I fear for the safety of Cameron. That Tara’s present husband may be abusing alcohol and has recently been convicted of domestic abuse. This conviction and subsequent prison sentence resulted from a physical attack on Tara. In spite of this violent crime, Tara took Cameron to prison to visit her husband while he was serving time for the conviction.
  7. That Tara’s current husband has an extensive criminal record including two felony convictions and has served prison sentences on three prior occasions.
  8. That Tara herself has a criminal record containing a fraud conviction and is currently a suspect in a robbery at Costco.
  9. That Tara is providing an unstable home environment and Cameron may be endangered as a result of this lifestyle.
  10. That I could provide a more stable and nurturing home to Cameron.
  11. That I work and both Tara and her husband go to school so Cameron spends a substantial amount of time in day-care outside his home.
  12. That I could provide more quality time at home with Cameron due to my work schedule and lifestyle.
  13. That Tara has not introduced Cameron to any organized religion and at times he appears to be lacking a solid moral foundation.
  14. That I am a returned missionary in the LDS church and would provide Cameron with religious instruction at this crucial time in his ethical development.
  15. That it is fair and equitable that Tara be required to reimburse me for my attorney’s fees and costs incurred in bringing this action before the Court.

The whole part about religion and me being a returned missionary in the LDS church wasn’t to state that I was some stalwart active member in the church, because I wasn’t. It was to merely present a comparison of my lifestyle and that of his mother and stepfather. I had a solid religious foundation from my parents, which has served me well in my life. I have lost my way many times, but I’ve always known where to come back to. I don’t think Cameron had that foundation. Being in the midst of people who were not centered, I’m certain that Cameron had a difficult time growing up. He probably felt a lot of confusion, and may to this very day. I just wanted to provide him with an upbringing that he could rely on. Sadly, I didn’t get that chance.

After this, Tara allowed me to see Cameron. From that visit, I learned that he was alright. Even though I sensed a divide between us that hadn’t been there before, I still felt that Cameron knew I cared about him and loved him. He didn’t speak to me much, so I assumed he was doing well. In retrospect, what a stupid man I was. How could anyone have done well being raised by a habitual criminal and compulsive liar? One of Scott Dendy’s convictions was from beating Tara up in a bar. I can only imagine how that kind of behavior carried over to Cameron.

As Cameron’s father, I deeply regret that I was too stupid to have seen that at the time. I just thought everything was okay, because I got to see him finally. I felt that through frequent visitation and communication, I could be an important part of his life. And I could have been, if it weren’t for his mother’s continual denial of my role as Cameron’s dad. When I think of the regrets I’ve had in my life, this one stands out as the biggest. Cameron had tremendous potential (still does!) and I could have helped him find a way to meet that potential and find inner happiness.

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