CHAPTER 8 - BEFORE JUDGE HICKEY
A full day had been allocated for the trial with my witnesses appearing in the morning and Maria’s in the afternoon. In my corner were my attorney, Dr. Elenewski, Martha Anderson, Dr. Garner (principal at my school), a fellow teacher, and my mother. With Maria were her lawyer, her brothers and her mother as well as a friend of the family who had been present on a day just after the separation had begun when I had tried to take Bobby from Theresa’s house only to wind up at the police station. I remembered her from the scene twenty months earlier because the woman had called me a kike.
I was so nervous that I hadn’t slept a wink all the night before. By now I had developed a nervous tic on my thigh to complement the one on my eye. I didn’t think I could take much more aggravation. Each trip to Theresa’s house to pick up my son for visitation had been fraught with danger. There was never a guarantee that my wife would get the boy there on time; and when she didn’t, which was a frequent problem, I’d get so upset that I’d create a scene. Inevitably her older brothers would come out, and I would get into a fistfight with them on the lawn.
Although my mother was aware of my grief, she had mixed emotions about testifying against Maria. For one thing, she liked her daughter-in-law. Maria had been, in her mind, a good mother to Bobby. She had even given my mother special visitation with Bobby when I wasn’t around. Because she was anxious about being placed in a position that would require her to testify against a woman she sympathized with, my attorney advised me to call her as a witness only after we’d exhausted all other favorable testimony. “Anyway,” he said, “the judge will assume that she’ll testify in your behalf. It might be better to let him go on thinking that way. Gomez might use her more for his purposes than ours.”
Judge Hickey then entered. He was a stout little man with the face of a bulldog. He had a bored look about him as if to say he had heard it all before. This was my first look at him, and I didn’t like what I saw. There was a certain lack of compassion that the man exuded.
After the initial opening formalities were over, John began with a statement of my position:
“Your honor, twenty-one months ago my client’s wife removed herself from the marital residence, taking the child with her. In January of this year, both parties came to the courthouse to terminate the marriage after a property settlement agreement had been reached. Mrs. Roffman, however, refused to go through with the divorce on that day and she also rejected taking any action which might save the marriage, be it moving back in with my client, dating him or attending any counseling sessions for which he was willing to pay. When the property settlement was signed, my client was willing to yield custody of the minor child of his marriage to Mrs. Roffman. Since that time there has been a substantial change of circumstances, to wit: Mrs. Roffman has since taken a job as a flight attendant with Northwest Orient Airlines. She is frequently out of town, often overnighting in Chicago or Seattle. The minor child is thus left without a caring parent for up to three or four days per week.
“In contrast, Mr. Roffman is a professional educator who is home each afternoon. If my client is granted custody, he intends to place the child in a nursery school during the day while he works, and then pick up the boy, Bobby, each afternoon after work. Further, as you requested in an earlier pretrial hearing, all parties involved have been tested by Dr. Elenewski, and interviewed by Mrs. Anderson, an H.R.S. social worker. Both of these expert witnesses will testify that Mr. Roffman is the primary psychological parent and both will state that it is their belief the father, Mr. Roffman, should be granted sole custody of the child.”
Gomez was on next. Speaking with a strong Cuban accent, he began:
“Your honor, Mrs. Roffman has taken a job as a flight attendant because it best allows her to support herself and the child. Her job is a respectful one that pays far more than most jobs do for high school graduates. Further, although she is occasionally out of town overnight, the child is left in the loving care of his grandmother. Mrs. Roffman not only lives now with her mother, but with a large family that includes several children for Bobby to play with. By contrast, Mr. Roffman is quite alone and without any assistance at all when it comes to raising this child. We will show that the home Bobby is now living in is a happy family situation. The child is well cared for there. As for the reports of the so-called expert witnesses, we will show that Mr. Roffman’s psychology degree gave him an unfair advantage over my client. He knew about many of the tests in advance. Further, it appears that he brainwashed the child into misbehaving when Mrs. Anderson came to visit his mother. More than these things, we will show your honor that Roffman is a religious fanatic who is bent on the destruction of the Christian religion, a man who must be denied access to the child so that the boy will be spared from possible psychological damage that his father may cause. Already the father has alienated the affections of the child towards his mother. We will ask your honor to put a stop to this.”
At this time John called Elenewski, who was first asked about his credentials which included a Bachelors and a Masters degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from Columbia, all in clinical psychology. The doctor had practiced in Miami for ten years and was often called in by the Court for custody cases.
John interrogated him about when he had seen the parties and then began the serious questioning:
“Can you tell us about some of the tests you performed?”
“With Mr. Roffman, I administered a battery of tests which included Human-figure drawings, the Bender Gestalt, the Elenewski Projective Sentence Completion Test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and the Thematic Apperception Test. Mrs. Roffman took the same battery. She has also provided me with several letters that her husband has written since the divorce proceedings were initiated. My file also includes a social investigation completed by Martha Anderson of H.R.S. In the case of the little boy, Robert, I had him make several free drawings, and I gave him the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, the Rorshach, the Elenewski Children’s Incomplete Sentence Test and the Thematic Apperception Test. I also had access to all of the child’s health records including a neurological evaluation by Dr. Robert Rosenberg dated July 11, 1980. My opinions are based on evaluation of all data just cited.”
John then asked him what he had been able to learn of my background. Elenewski replied:
“Mr. Roffman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has resided in Dade County for the past seven years. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Temple University and a commission in the naval reserve earned at the University of Pennsylvania. He now possesses twice as many general science credits as he does in his degree field. The man is employed as a science teacher and track coach by the Dade County School Board with a placement at Arvida Junior High. In addition, Mr. Roffman teaches at a Hebrew school, Beth David. He also has authored and recently published a book entitled The Great Christ Debate.”
John asked him whether or not I had told him why I was seeking custody. Elenewski replied:
“He said that he thinks he can better provide for Robert’s physical and emotional needs. Mr. Roffman also feels that he can provide his son with a better academic and religious education, a stable and consistent living situation and a strong parent-child relationship.”
“Did Mr. Roffman relate any fears about leaving Bobby in his mother’s care?” John asked.
“Very definitely. Mr. Roffman gave a lengthy and consistent account of his troubled relationship with his wife. He alleged that his wife did not want to have the child and that she suffered from postpartum depression after Robert was born. He also felt that she became more self-conscious of her physical appearance after Bobby was born via a Caesarian section.
With that, my mind flashed back to just how lovely Maria had been before the operation. I could see her dancing before me in a Navy Lodge in Norfolk. She wore a see-through, orange nightgown. I loved her abdomen in those days. In fact, it was one of the most exquisitely perfect forms that I’d ever seen, and I later cursed the doctor who butchered her work of art.
“Mr. Roffman,” Elenewski continued, “expressed concern that his wife frequently left Bobby in the care of her mother. He described this woman as a careless person who occasionally left poisons laying around the house. In discussing the relationship with his mother-in-law, it was obvious that the differences between these two are extreme and at times quite bitter.”
John pressed him more by asking if there were any other serious concerns that I had.
“Yes,” Elenewski answered, “It was clear that religious issues weigh heavily in the present legal battle. Mr. Roffman is Jewish and his wife was raised as a Christian. He described himself as a traditional and Conservative Jew. He said that he wanted his wife to convert to his faith, but that her mother strongly opposed this. Apparently there have been many extended family debates and disputes about religious teaching and dogma. He showed me a certificate to prove that his son was circumcised and provided with a Jewish mohel after birth. He claims that his mother-in-law made demands that the child be baptized Catholic.”
“Is this the circumcision certificate that Mr. Roffman showed you?” John asked.
“It is,” Elenewski replied.
“Let the record so reflect. Your honor, we would like to admit a copy of the certificate as our Exhibit A,” John said.
Hickey asked Gomez if he had any objections. None were expressed. John continued with his questioning by asking Elenewski to describe the nature of my relationship with Bobby.
“There’s obviously a great deal of affection between these two. Mr. Roffman told me that Bobby was his whole life. Bobby likewise sees his father as almost a godlike figure. Throughout the course of the interview, Mr. Roffman impressed me as a conscientious and concerned parent whose motivation for seeking custody at this time is based on a concern for his son’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.”
John asked if Elenewski saw me as being a vengeful person. The doctor said that I had often bent over backwards to try to reach an accommodation with my wife. He pointed out that during mediation I had offered to yield custody in exchange for liberal visitation. Hickey remarked that he saw that in Mr. Knoll’s report.
John next asked Dr. Elenewski if he saw me as a religious fanatic.
“Not at all,” the doctor answered, “At one point the man even considered converting to Christianity in an effort to save his marriage, but he later decided that such an action would not be appropriate. The only thing extreme about this man is his devotion to his son.”
Oskowitz then inquired about my intellectual ability and my present mental state.
“Formal psychological evaluation,” Elenewski replied, reveals Mr. Roffman to be of superior intellectual ability. There was no evidence of major mental disturbance or serious psychopathology elicited during either the testing phase or the interview phase of my study concerning the man. All indications are that Mr. Roffman approached the test situation with a normal degree of defensiveness. He’s an outgoing person who’s basically optimistic in terms of his approach to life. He is likely to display good-humored euphoria for the most part, but on occasion he can become irritable with outbursts of anger and over activity with emotional excitement. Mr. Roffman is a very social person who can be quite extroverted, poised, and confident in social and group situations. His social adjustment is quite adequate, and he’s able to tolerate demanding and challenging work situations.”
John asked him how he had arrived at that conclusion, and Elenewski proceeded to cite a number of sentence completion answers that I had given. The last question I had been given was one about what three wishes I would ask for if I knew that they could be magically granted. I listed, in order, Peace on Earth, custody of my son, and better knowledge of God along with more strength in trying to keep His laws. My answers had convinced him that I was a principled and caring parent who would dedicate substantial time and effort toward child rearing. Elenewski stated that I had the stamina it took to be an effective single parent.
John next questioned the doctor about Maria.
“Mrs. Roffman,” Elenewski began, “was mildly anxious and superficially cooperative. She stated at the onset that she simply wanted a divorce but she thought that her husband was trying to get even by going for custody. Her chief complaints about Mr. Roffman were related to financial difficulties that the couple were having and personality problems.”
When asked if Dr. Elenewski thought Maria would encourage visitation between father and son, the doctor stated “hardly,” and then went on to document her bitter attitude toward me. He also spoke of the fist fights that I had to endure to get access to Bobby.
“What exactly did your testing reveal about Maria?” John asked.
"Mrs. Roffman possesses average intelligence. There were no major psychopathological problems or mental disturbances,” he said much as he had with me, yet then went on to add, “but there were some personality problems. Mrs. Roffman is an active and sociable woman, however she is highly self-centered and narcissistic.” You could see a look of hatred come over Maria’s face as Elenewski continued:
“Others may perceive her as being impulsive, immature, and acting without sufficient forethought. Her competitiveness, persuasiveness, and social aggressiveness may cause others to see her as opportunistic and manipulative. There’s also a strong tendency to deny psychological difficulties where they may exist.”
Perhaps because I still cared for her, I felt sorry for Maria. I actually disagreed with most of the psychologist’s attack on her, especially the part about her being immature. But I was hardly in a position to protest. Anyway, I reckoned, that was what she was paying an attorney for.
Some of Maria’s sentence completion answers looked like carbon copies of mine. She had, in fact, read Elenewski’s report on me before walking into the psychologist’s office and had probably decided that she could minimize the differences between us by mimicking my responses. But when we were asked about our greatest weakness, I had known the testing procedure well enough to be honest, while she had not. I listed my big mouth as my greatest weakness while my wife answered in terms of “Bobby’s big brown eyes.” Her answer was cute, Elenewski said, but didn’t reveal a willingness to confront the fact that we all have real personality weaknesses of some sort. I admitted that I hated Theresa, but Maria would only admit to hating “plastic people.”
When asked what she did when Bobby misbehaved, she told Elenewski that Bobby was never bad. The boy was indeed very well-behaved, but all kids do things wrong at some time, Elenewski told the Court, so she had to be covering up something. A talk with Bobby revealed the truth, that she hit him frequently.
John then began to ask Elenewski about Bobby himself.
“Before the evaluation,” Elenewski said, I observed Robert and his mother in the waiting room. He was sitting next to her and giving her affectionate hugs and kisses. He did, however, separate easily from her, and he appeared to enjoy the individual attention afforded by the psychological evaluation. I found him to be a pleasant, active and spontaneous child who knew my name and did understand as best a three-and-a-half-year-old can that the purpose of our visit had to do with the Mommy-and-Daddy problem. I did not question Robert directly concerning this and all information was derived by means of the psychological tests and techniques that I described before.”
John then asked, “Mrs. Roffman expressed concern about Bobby’s mental stability. Did you find any evidence of a problem in this area?”
Elenewski stated: “Robert is functioning within the normal limits for a child of his age. He is in some ways socially precocious and overly concerned with the conflict between his parents. The boy is verbally articulate for his age yet his word recognition is mildly deficient. There is, to answer your question, no indication that either parent has harmed his mental stability in any way.”
The attorney wanted to know what the sentence completion test had revealed, and Elenewski answered by quoting Bobby:
“I like my father but . . . I like my Mother, too.
“My secret is . . . My Mommy takes me to the zoo and beach but my Daddy takes me to Monkey Jungle and other good places, too.
“When I get mad . . . I cry and my Mommy hits me.
“When I get sad . . I cry and Mommy hits me.
“My three wishes are . . . (1) Have a birdie. (2) That I can go to sleep and there are no ghosts. (3) Be with my Daddy.”
Elenewski said that he asked Bobby about the last wish and Bobby said, “My Mommy don’t take care of me but my Daddy does. So Daddy is better.” Again Elenewski pointed out that he asked the boy to explain what he meant. Bobby told him, “Mommy is never home when she’s supposed to be. Daddy do more things with me.”
“What about the other tests?" John asked.
Elenewski said, “On the apperception test I showed a picture of two parents fighting. Bobby told the story as follows: A Daddy and a Mommy are fighting. Daddy wins. He is bigger and stronger. I love him very much. Another picture showed a man and a woman pulling on a child. Bobby gave this description: Daddy was going to get Bobby - Daddy won - Mommy didn’t won Bobby. In a later scene which depicts a woman crying and a man walking out the door with a suitcase, Bobby says: Mommy is crying and Daddy won. Daddy is going back because he is the best. It’s going to be over - the problem. I want Daddy to win. As my report indicates, there were a large number of such responses.”
John inquired what it all meant, and Elenewski stated, “My overall impression is that we’re dealing with a child who is extremely perceptive of the present parental conflict. He appears to be most strongly identified with his father as the primary psychological parent. Bobby does express positive feelings towards both parental figures, and both parental figures are seen as significant sources of nurturance and affection.”
John then pushed for the clincher by asking Elenewski if he could make a recommendation for custody. The psychologist didn’t hesitate:
“The information I have compiled leads without doubt to the conclusion that Bobby’s best interest would lie in a placement with his father as the custodial parent. I base my opinion on the fact that Mr. Roffman is the primary psychological parent as far as Bobby is concerned. His needs could most closely be attended by his father. I also feel that Mr. Roffman would encourage and support Bobby’s visitation with his mother, whereas I feel that Mrs. Roffman would strive to keep contact with the non-custodial parent at a minimum. I would like to add that the poor communication that exists between Mr. and Mrs. Roffman is likely to be a potential source of stress and trauma for Bobby. Unless this conflict can be shielded from the boy, he’ll surely develop severe psychological conflicts and ambivalent feelings regarding his affection for both parents." Did this guy have A Gift of Prophecy? He continued, "Should this occur, he will require professional psychotherapeutic intervention from time to time. The potential for continued conflict appears to be great. It is thus also my belief that all parties should be referred for appropriate conciliation.”
With that, John rested and turned the questioning over to Frank Gomez. The man had a mountain to climb, but he was anxious to get going.
“Dr. Elenewski,” he began, “About how many hours did you spend talking with Mr. Roffman?”
Elenewski told him that he had spent about two hours with each of the parents.
Frank said, “And in so short a time you were able to come to know the parties so well. It even appears that you know Mr. Roffman better than his wife does although she lived with him for three years!”
Elenewski responded that his tests had a high degree of reliability, but on further cross-examination he was forced to admit that they weren’t foolproof.
Gomez continued, “You stated that Mr. Roffman has a degree in psychology. Would he then have taken a course in psychological testing?”
“I suppose so,” responded the doctor.
“What kind of advantage would such knowledge give him over Mrs. Roffman, who has not had a single psychology course and who is unfamiliar with such tests?” Frank asked.
“A test like the MMPI has a lie scale built in. Mrs. Roffman was caught lying several times. Mr. Roffman would have been more careful, on the lookout for such test items,” Elenewski said.
Again Frank asked, “Do you have any reason to believe that Mr. Roffman lied, too?"
“Not really,” the doctor responded.
Gomez pressed on. “You said that Mr. Roffman described himself as being a traditional and Conservative Jew.”
“That’s right,” Elenewski said.
“Did you know that Mr. Roffman has, for the past two years of his marriage, fasted during the Moslem month of Ramadan, for 30 days each year from sunrise to sunset on each of those days?” Frank asked.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Elenewski admitted.
“Is that what you’d call traditional Conservative Judaism?” Frank sneered.
“No, I wouldn’t. However, I have read Mr. Roffman’s book; and I believe that if he so fasted, it would probably have been done to gain credibility with the Moslems that he was attempting to reconcile with his own people. From what Mr. Roffman has also told me, it should be noted that he has had second thoughts about his book. I am sure that this man is now in the process of a return to more traditional Jewish beliefs,” the doctor said with confidence.
Frank asked the doctor for his opinion of The Great Christ Debate. He wanted to know if Dr. Elenewski didn’t find the book a bit strange.
“ I didn’t find the book strange at all,” Elenewski said. Then he added, “It was a bit hard to read at times, but Mr. Roffman did a very scholarly job. Personally, I admire the man quite a lot for what he’s trying to accomplish. I only hope that he doesn’t give it all up.”
“Is there any reason,” Frank wanted to know, “for you to believe that he will give it up? After all, the book cost this man his home and his wife, not to mention possession of his son up until this time.”
After a sigh, Elenewski responded, “Mr. Roffman feels as if the more he came to accept Jesus, the more his wife and Christian in-laws came to reject him. I’m afraid that to a certain extent, when Maria left him he projected onto Jesus the blame for the failure of the marriage. According to my notes, he quoted a verse . . . Luke 14:26, that had Jesus say that you couldn’t be his disciple unless you hated your family members.”
Frank decided to take another tact. “Did you know,” he asserted, “that when Mr. Roffman ran off to Israel he left no provision for the financial care of his son . . . that he made no provision for payment of the mortgage, or of the car . . . that he left all debts to Mrs. Roffman while he frolicked all over the Middle East and Europe? Do you think that such behavior is what should be expected of a mature and responsible individual?”
Elenewski stated that it was easy to pass judgment when you’re not in the other guy’s shoes. He also pointed out that the trip was necessary in that it gave me a chance to sound out the ideas presented in my book. Anyway, he said, I had only been gone for six weeks.
I turned to my lawyer and whispered, “We’ve got to set the record straight about not having sent support. I did send it and Maria knows it! And as for the house, she could have rented it out. She didn’t even try. She was the one who wanted the whole thing. She was the one who had the car, too. The truth was that she didn’t even try to solve any financial problems.”
“Keep your cool,” John urged. “It’s not our turn now. We’ll try to bring all that out later if we can.”
Frank continued his harangue. It was, he knew, best to attack an opponent when the person was not free to answer for himself.
“So what we have here, Your Honor, is a man who deserts his family, runs off to Israel leaving them with all the bills, and all for a book that he now doesn’t even believe in anymore! Moving on, you stated, Doctor Elenewski, that there were a number of responses by the child about being hit by his mother. Yet, when the boy was in the waiting room, you said not that his mother was kissing him, but that he was kissing her.”
“That’s right,” Elenewski replied.
“Did you ever see any marks on the boy?" Frank asked. Elenewski told him that none were visible. Gomez went on:
“And you stated, that Bobby knew you by your name?”
“Yes,” the doctor answered.
“When Mrs. Anderson came to Maria’s mother’s house, according to the H.R.S. report, Bobby ran up to her with a statement about wanting to live with his father. Isn’t it possible that Mr. Roffman, a trained psychologist, succeeded in conditioning his son to turn against his mother in front of Mrs. Anderson and in front of you? And isn’t it possible that Bobby’s real feelings were expressed not in your testing room, but out in your waiting room instead?”
There was an expression of self-content as Gomez finished the above query. Elenewski’s answer, however, was immediate.
“No,” the doctor said. “It might be possible for Mr. Roffman to fool me. He does have an intimate knowledge of psychological testing. But it would not be possible for a three-year-old to hide his true feelings on a battery of tests. This child wants very much to live with his father.”
Frank next wanted to know if Dr. Elenewski had been able to determine anything about the child’s views on religion.
Dr. Elenewski told the Court that the boy did, on a very primitive level, identify with the Jewish faith. This was quite surprising, he stated, because the lad was inundated with the Christian faith throughout the day, most days, due to Theresa’s constant viewing of the Christian Broadcast Network. In fact, his grandmother seldom talked about anything but Jesus.
When Gomez heard that Bobby was not thrilled with Christianity, he tried to blame the child’s lack of enthusiasm on my conditioning. He suggested that I had told the boy that Mommy and Daddy weren’t together any more due to Jesus.
By the time Dr. Elenewski was finished testifying, his expert-witness fees had grown to $1,700. In those days a teacher in Dade County with my experience was only paid about $17,000 per year (with taxes and Social Security taken out of that). It had been necessary to have Elenewski in court that day not merely to further enhance my case, but because the reports he had written for the Court were not admissible unless he himself had come in to answer questions about them. The same was true of Martha Anderson’s report, but there wasn’t time enough to call her that morning. In fact, by the time Dr. Elenewski had finished testifying, there was time left for only one more witness for my side, Dr. Garner. I could have put Anderson on the stand but had kept my boss waiting outside now for three hours so I called him in instead.
The principal was a good old country boy who was proud of the large collection of track and cross country trophies that my teams had won. He testified that I was an excellent, well-loved teacher and coach, detailed all my accomplishments, and was finished giving his presentation in five minutes.
Judge Hickey agreed to let Gomez call a witness before lunch, so Theresa was next on the stand. The woman described how the marriage had gone bad after I had become obsessed with my book, how I broke into her house to “kidnap” Bobby after Maria had pulled out, and how I had embarrassed her frequently with profanity on her lawn or by fighting her elder sons when I came to pick up Bobby and found that “Maria was five minutes late with the baby.” She summed up her opinion of me by stating that she thought I was a dangerous man.
John then began his cross-examination.
“Isn’t it a fact,” he asserted, “that Maria fails to have Bobby ready for his father’s visitation once or twice every month?”
“I haven’t been counting,” Theresa replied.
“And isn’t it a fact that Maria is often not five minutes late, but four or five hours late instead?” he asked.
“I don’t actually put a stopwatch on my daughter,” she retorted. Then she added, “Sometimes there may have been problems like that, but not often. Her car breaks down a lot” (Note: It was a new Ford Mustang).
John then asked whether or not Maria had been very late on the days that I had done battle with the brothers. Theresa alleged that her daughter’s car had suffered a flat tire on each of those days.
“On the day of the last fist fight did anyone at your house call Barry a Kike?” John asked.
“I don’t remember,” Theresa answered.
“Isn’t it a fact,” John continued, “that it was not until Mr. Roffman was called a Kike that the fight started?”
“There was a lot of name calling that day. I don’t remember who called who what,” she said.
“You have two children still in school don’t you?” John inquired.
“Yes. And they both get good grades,” she added.
“Do they?” John asked sarcastically. “And what do you call good grades?”
“They both get B’s and C’s,” Theresa answered.
“I impeach this witness, Your Honor!” John exclaimed. He then asked for permission to call in Dr. Garner, who was still in the waiting room talking to my mother. John had subpoenaed the grades of both of Theresa’s young children, and Dr. Garner was carrying them with him.
Over the protests of Gomez who argued that Garner was finished testifying, Hickey allowed the grades of both to be read to the Court. What they showed was that the two were average students with no grade higher than “C” in any area. With that, Theresa was dismissed and the Court adjourned for lunch.
In the afternoon Maria’s brothers testified, as did a number of her friends including the girl who had fixed her up with me for our first date. It soon became apparent that there were many who would not get to testify, including Martha Anderson. Gomez told the judge that he wanted to exercise his right to challenge her report, and he stated that Maria’s step-father, Raul, a DC-10 pilot for Sabena Airlines of Belgium, was out of the country. Raul had something critical to say in testimony. Gomez wanted a continuance.
I began to feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my gut as I realized that the strain would not end that day. Judge Hickey called for his calendar and scheduled another full day of testimony for January 20th, 1981, four months away.
“Your Honor,” said John, “This man has endured terrible visitation rights and all expert testimony given today has indicated that he is the primary psychological parent. The visitation guidelines that he has been forced to live by are hard not only on him, but on the child as well. We beg the Honorable Court to improve those rights during the interim period before the next court date.”
“Done,” said the judge. “From now until the January hearing, the father will have visitation rights every Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 P.M. until the following Thursday morning at 8:00 A.M. and on alternating weekends from Friday afternoon at 3:30 P.M. until the following Monday morning at 8:00 A.M.”
My face lit up like a Roman candle. This was a vast improvement over the eight hours per week that I had previously been allowed.
Gomez in turn moved that the marriage be dissolved then rather than in January. Hickey agreed and the five magic words were uttered by Maria. Court was then adjourned.
I reckoned that I would see Bobby some time during the day for eight out of nine days and then not again for five days. This was an arrangement I could live with.