Struggling for Visitation

There was another divorce court hearing today. Because Tara had not been complying with the visitation schedule that the court had set up long before this date, I had to pull her back into court. I had ended up not following through with the custody battle I previously initiated. The reason I dropped it was because Tara allowed me to finally have visitation with Cameron after that court appearance, and I was satisfied that he was alright. Also, I felt she would continue to allow it in the future. (How wrong I was!) Besides that, I really didn’t want to take Cameron away from his mother, because I felt that would be a tragic thing for him to go through. Still, Tara’s efforts of denying me visitation were continuing.

My lawyer felt I had an iron-clad case against Tara, that I could have easily won custody of Cameron. Nevertheless, I had made the decision to drop it. That decision ended up being one of the biggest mistakes I made in my life. I could have helped Cameron in so many more ways than his mother did. It makes me very sad to think about it.

Anyway, on this court date, Tara appeared without a lawyer. I don’t know why, but it worked to my advantage as she represented herself. In fact, she actually petitioned the judge to have me sit on the witness stand so that she could ask me some questions. The judge allowed it. After taking the stand, I calmly waited for Tara’s questioning. I think she had seen too many Perry Mason episodes, as she dramatically paced back and forth in front of the stand. Then, she suddenly turned toward me and blurted out, “Mr. Iverson! Do you remember the time that you beat me, threw me down, kicked me, and then told me that you were going to kill me?” Because that never happened, I simply said, “No.” She paced back and forth again, then turned as before and reiterated, “Mr. Iverson! Don’t you remember that time when you beat me, threw me down, kicked me, and then told me that you were going to kill me?” Again, I said, “No.” She turned away from me, paused, and then spun back around and yelled, “You need to tell the truth!” The judge took over, “Okay, Mrs. Dendy. That will be enough questions from you. Sit down.”

Then, the judge heard my lawyer relate all the many times that Tara had denied court-ordered visitation. The judge turned to Tara and said, “I’m curious, Mrs. Dendy, just how often do you think your son should see his father?” “Never!” Came Tara’s quick reply. “Why do you think that?” The judge asked her. “Because, he is a terrible man,” Tara replied, “He was abusive to me and now he’s abusive to Cameron.” “Do you have any proof of that?” Asked the judge. “Yes,” Tara said, “One time when my son was with his father, he called me and said, ‘Please mommy! Please let me come home! Daddy is beating me!'” Then, Tara began to sob, “It just tore my heart out, your honor, to hear those words.”

Luckily, the judge knew bullshit when he smelled it. He said, “Mrs. Dendy, because you have no proof that your son was abused by his father, I am going to have to order, once again, that you allow visitation.” Then, he paused and continued, “Do you understand that?” Tara nodded affirmatively and said, “Yes.”

I remember the judge rolling his eyes, as if he understood Tara had lied. Then he said, “Listen, Mrs. Dendy, I’m going to order a new visitation schedule to be set up, with specific dates, as laid out in Utah Code Annotated 30-3-35. I’ll give you a copy of it.” “Thanks,” Tara said, sobbing no more.

The judge moved his chair forward and leaned toward Tara, “Now, if you do not abide by this visitation schedule, and I see you again here in court, you will lose custody of your son. I will turn him over to his father, because of you irresponsibility in complying with previous court orders. Do you understand?” Tara nodded and said, “Yes, your honor.”

The visitation schedule set forth on that day was as follows:

  1. One weekend of every other month from Friday evening through Sunday evening.
  2. Three weeks of summer visitation in 1996 and four weeks of summer visitation in 1997 and thereafter.
  3. Telephone visitation with Cameron on Thursday of each week at 7:00 MST.
  4. Years ending in odd numbers, the day before or after Cameron’s birthday, Human Rights day, Easter holiday, Memorial Day, July 24th, Veteran’s Day, and the first portion of the Christmas school visitation so long as the entire holiday is equally divided.
  5. Years ending in even numbers, Cameron’s actual birth date, New Year’s Day, President’s Day, July 4th, Labor Day weekend, the fall school break, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving holiday, and the second portion of the Christmas holiday.

The order actually went even further than that. It laid out the responsibilities of Tara having Cameron readily available at the aforementioned dates. It also made provision for Cameron to addend my family functions, including funerals, weddings, family reunions, religious holidays, important ceremonies, and other significant events in my life.

It also stated that Tara should notify me within 24 hours of receiving notice of all significant school, social, sports, and community functions in which Cameron was participating or being honored, and that I should be entitled to attend and participate fully in the events.

Furthermore, the order stated that I should have access directly to all Cameron’s school reports including preschool and daycare reports and medical records and Tara should notify me immediately in the event of a medical emergency.

I was very pleased with the judge’s orders. I felt that I had finally made progress in my pursuit of being with Cameron. Luckily, I got to spend some time with Cameron on that visit to Utah (from Arizona). I could sense that we were starting to drift apart. However, it was a very long time before Tara allowed the next visitation. Also, everything else the order stipulated was not followed by her. There was no effort made by her to comply with any of it. I doubt she ever gave it a second thought.

When his stepfather, Scott, had just married Tara, I got to spend some time with Cameron at the San Diego zoo. It was a wonderful time and he opened up to me a bit. He told me how Scott was driving with him once and the police were chasing them. Cameron said that Scott quickly pulled into a side street and the police went right by. I looked at Cameron, as he told that story, and it wasn’t excitement I saw in his face, but fear. I asked him, “Were you scared?” He said, “Yeah.” I felt very bad for the little guy. He deserved much better. Life can be so unfair at times.

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