Halle Berry announced Tuesday that she was pulling out of the film “New Year’s Eve,” which was slated to start filming in New York this week, to focus her efforts in fighting her ex, Gabriel Aubry, for custody of their two-year-old daughter, Nahla.
"Halle has serious concerns for her daughter's well-being while in the care of her father for any extended period of time and is prepared to take all necessary steps to protect her," the actress's rep told People Magazine in a statement. "She has attempted to resolve these custody issues amicably with her daughter's father, Gabriel Aubry, directly, but given his lack of cooperation, Halle has no choice but to seek swift judicial intervention.”
Similarly, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi also seems set for a bitter custody battle against the father of her 11-month-old daughter. Last week Adam Dell, brother of the computer mogul, filed papers in a Manhattan court in an attempt to take custody away from Lakshmi. According to TMZ, the estranged parents had an out-of-court agreement that granted Dell visitation rights up until daughter Krishna’s 1st birthday on February 20, but negotiations to work out a long-term plan reportedly fell apart.
In the case of Berry and Aubrey, both are claiming the other is an irresponsible and/or a dangerous parent, but assuming neither Aubrey nor Dell put their respective daughters in harm’s way – what right do they have in taking custody away from the mother?
“Mothers and fathers have the right to see their kids, and absent a showing of danger or abuse to the kid, judges will always give both parents significant access to their kids,” explained Los Angeles attorney, Steve Cron. “In order for Berry or Lakshmi to keep the dads away from their kids, they will have to convince a judge that it would be highly detrimental to the welfare of the kids for them to see their dads. Their unsupported allegations, without solid proof, will not be successful.”
What are the benefits for the young ones to having equal relationships with their fathers, who obviously long to spend time with them?
“Studies have shown that kids function best when they are able to spend time with both parents, and judges will encourage both parents to participate in raising their children,” Cron added.
And according to another Hollywood family law expert, Debra Opri, a possible reason the moms are so intent on keeping the dads at a distance– if it turns out not to be an endangerment concern – could come down to “control issues.”
“A relationship is over, the custodial parent usually wants to cut the cord of involvement these ex relationships have to avoid messy future dealings and an ongoing presence in the child’s life,” Opri said. “Parents need to understand that once the child is brought into this world; both parents have equal rights to the care and raising of their child. This is a control issue that must unfortunately be dealt with by the courts until societal norms evolve to include both parents as a matter of right, whether they are married to each other or not.”