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Halle Berry's Custody Battle

Photo by Michel Boutefeu via wikipedia.org (CC Licensed)

Halle Berry and her boyfriend Gabriel Aubry split up last April, but remained civil since they’d be co-parenting their daughter Nahla who turns 3 in March. That plan must have went out the window, because People is reporting that Nahla’s famous parents are gearing up for a heated custody battle. More on this story and commentary from a California Family Law Attorney after the jump.

According to Aubry's former friend and business partner Stephane Bibeau, the model has made racial slurs against Berry and is a very vindictive person. Bibeau tells People: “Once they broke up he became verbally threatening to Halle.”

But Aubry’s friends are singing a different tune, saying, “I never saw someone more dedicated to their child.” Aubry filed court papers in December to officially declare himself as Nahla’s father. He is seeking joint legal and physical custody. Berry has pulled out of a film production to deal with pending litigation over the custody of her daughter. Click here to learn about custody.

According to Berry’s rep, “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.” Berry doesn’t want Aubry around Nahla without supervision, but he continues to see his daughter because the court has not made an official ruling yet.

What does this all mean? I interviewed Celeste Liversidge, Family Law Attorney and author of Last One Down Aisle Wins to help us all better understand custody.

CC: Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry are not married. Does that matter in custody cases in California?

CL: No. Marital status has no bearing on custody/visitation orders in CA.

CC: Aubry has been in Nahla's life since Halle was pregnant. Why did he rush to court to establish he is the father?

CL: Because without a formal parentage order, he has not established that he is the legal father and doesn't have the right to ask for custody of or visitation with Nahla.

CC: What does joint legal and physical custody mean? (That is what Aubry wants.)

CL: Basically that each parent will have the same amount of time with her on a weekly basis. Also, they will make joint decisions regarding education, medical care, etc. for Nahla.

CC: Halle is requesting that Aubry gets supervised visitation. Why does a mom request this?

CL: If Halle feels that Aubry is a physical or emotional threat to Nahla's well-being, she would request that his visitation be monitored by a neutral third party. 

CC: Halle is the mom. Does the court care? Does Dad have equal rights?

CL: In CA, unless we're talking about a very tiny baby, the parties usually begin on a level playing field when it comes to custody, regardless of gender.  

CC: Halle travels a lot for work. Can she take take Nahla out of the state and country?

CL: If the parties end up sharing joint legal custody, Halle would likely need Aubry's permission to travel with Nahla.  However, he cannot withhold his consent unreasonably.

Do you think the couple should share custody since Aubry was around from the beginning? After the couple split they were seen co-parenting on a trip to Paris—doesn’t seem like Aubry should all of a sudden have no custody of Nahla, right? I know it’s hard to comment, because we don’t know all the details, but please share your thoughts. What are your custody arrangements like?

Have a great weekend! XO

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