Access Denied

In the he-said, she-said world of child visitation disputes, dads like Doug Watkins say fathers have no rights

It certainly doesn't help that Doug did sign an earlier "side agreement" when he wanted to get his kids over Christmas (though Kandee disregarded it, Doug says) or that his stepson Justin was willing to testify that he witnessed Doug signing this agreement. "I just don't put it past Justin to lie for the benefit of his mother," Borman says. "But if an agreement existed, why didn't Ms. Watkins mention it to Detective Melanac? That certainly would have shut down any police investigation."

Prior to the May hearing, Kandee's attorney Larry Catlin would comment by saying only, "We completely deny their allegations. We have a very solid defense."

Judge Langley heard that defense on May 7 but seemed uncertain about the authenticity of the side agreement, so he fashioned his own remedy: He ordered that each party share in transportation duties by changing the site of the visitation exchange to Waco; he insisted that Kandee get an answering machine to avoid any further miscommunication between the parties; "He refused to hold Kandee in contempt," Catlin now says. "But he forbid the parties from entering into any side agreements for 18 months."

Doug Watkins claims that his ex-wife has interfered with his visitation rights and alienated him from his children.
Doug Watkins claims that his ex-wife has interfered with his visitation rights and alienated him from his children.
During much of their 13-year-marriage, Doug Watkins (seated right) claims that his wife, Kandee (seated left), tried to put their kids in the middle of their arguments.
During much of their 13-year-marriage, Doug Watkins (seated right) claims that his wife, Kandee (seated left), tried to put their kids in the middle of their arguments.

"That eliminates the only defense she has," Doug contends. "The judge said that any deviation from the visitation schedule other than the kids going to the hospital would result in him taking action."

Although Kandee will spend no time behind bars, Doug feels he has accomplished a great deal. Between hearings, Judge Langley ordered that Doug receive two visitation weekends "in order to get the train back on track," he said.

On April 20, Doug drove to a Waco parking lot where the court arranged for him to pick up his children for his first visit. It had been nearly three months since he had seen them, and they seemed giddy as they left their mother's side. Jeffrey hugged him immediately, and Jana held his hand after she got inside his car. He says he could sense the distance that time and their mother had put between them. But he spent much of their visit doing the small things that might bring them closer: Doug would brush his daughter's hair, wrestle playfully with his son. He tried to avoid speaking about their mother or bringing up the past. And every so often, he would give them the kind of reassuring glance that let them know that somehow everything was going to be all right.

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