Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mother hopes to be reunited with daughter : Feud among parents tugs at custody question


June 27, 2009 8:01 AM

A Burbank mother hopes to see her Santa Barbara-born daughter after having no contact with her for two and a half years.

Dawn Willson, 38, has been in a legal battle with her ex-husband for five years over custody and jurisdiction rights over their now 7-year-old, Raquel, who goes by Rocky.

Alex Willson, 39, resides in Vera, Spain, and has had physical custody of Rocky since September, 2006.

On July 3, a hearing will be held in Vera to determine the child's future living arrangements.

Ms. Willson filed eight police reports against Mr. Willson over alleged visitation violations, and he was found guilty of one. He was told that if he were found guilty of another, he would be sent to prison.

"I would like compensatory time with my daughter," she said. "If you add up only the times that he violated visitation, I would still have a solid year and a half with her."

Ms. Willson does not want to keep Rocky away from her father, however, and said that if she is granted custody, she would allow Mr. Willson to have summers, Christmas and Easter with the girl.

The Willsons decided to divorce while vacationing in Spain in 2004 after about three years of marriage. Rocky was 2 at the time.

The trouble began when Ms. Willson returned to California ahead of her then-husband and daughter. When she arrived, Mr. Willson informed her that he would not be returning to the United States and was keeping Rocky with him in Spain.

Ms. Willson returned to Spain, where she stayed for the summer. According to her, she stayed because Mr. Willson confiscated her passport, along with Rocky's.

Since that time, the two have struggled through numerous legal battles in courts in Santa Barbara, Wisconsin and Spain.

Requests for comments from Mr. Willson and his attorney went unanswered.

Both he and Ms. Willson have accused the other of kidnapping. Ms. Willson first, in June, 2004, when Mr. Willson told her he was not returning from Spain with Rocky.

Mr. Willson filed kidnapping allegations in November 2004, in a Spanish court, two months after Ms. Willson returned with Rocky to the United States.

According to Ms. Willson, she was only able to return to the states because she and Rocky received humanitarian aide from the U.S. Embassy, who sent the two home.

Ms. Willson has also reported numerous instances of neglect on the part of her ex-husband.

In December, 2005, when she went to Spain to visit Rocky for Christmas, she found her daughter covered in bites and with a mouth full of cavities that she says were ignored for eight months.

In March 2006, Ms. Willson says that when she arrived in Spain to visit Rocky, her daughter had head lice that Mr. Willson had not noticed.

In July, 2006, Rocky fell from a treehouse and broke her arm, which Ms. Willson said Mr. Willson ignored until she took Rocky to the emergency room, where the arm was treated.

Mr. Willson was also arrested on Sept. 6, 2006, for arriving at Los Angeles International Airport with Rocky, who was naked from the waist down. Mr. Willson was still allowed to leave the country with Rocky. That was the last time that Ms. Willson had contact with Rocky. LAX is still investigating the matter .

In December 2008, the Department of Social Services made a DVD of an interview with Rocky, revealing that the child sleeps and showers naked with her father, although no allegations of sexual abuse were made.

Ms. Willson hopes that she will finally be able to bring her daughter home after the July 3 hearing.

"I just don't think I should have to live in Spain to raise my child," she said.

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