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Top 10 Nastiest Celebrity Custody Battles

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp

Well that escalated quickly. From Britney Spears and Kevin Federline to Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry, celebrity custody disputes can get ugly. WatchMojo is counting down the most notorious famous exes who fought for custody.


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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Nastiest Celebrity Custody Battles

Well that escalated quickly. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrity Custody Battles.

For this list, we’ll be looking at ten of the nastiest and most notorious celebrity custody battles to have been covered in the mainstream media.

#10: Kelly Rutherford & Daniel Giersch

Kelly Rutherford and German businessman Daniel Giersch married in August 2006 and welcomed their first child just two months later. Rutherford filed for divorce two years later, leading to a nasty custody battle. In 2012, their children began living with Giersch in Monaco and France. After a summer of visiting Rutherford, she refused to return the children to Europe, which Giersch argued was an instance of kidnapping. It was this debacle that led to Giersch winning sole custody of the children, and Rutherford was prevented from bringing her kids to the United States in the future. New York lawyer Susan Moss declared that Rutherford “only had herself to blame.”

#9: Mel Gibson & Oksana Grigorieva

Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva went through a terribly messy break-up and subsequent custody battle over their daughter, Lucia. While Mel originally agreed on $15 million in child support and legal payments, this was dropped to just $750,000 after Grigorieva released confidential recordings of Gibson using racial slurs and violent language; recordings that sparked a massive media backlash against the actor. Grigorieva again broke the clause by speaking about the case on The Howard Stern Show, further reducing the payment to just $250,000. Grigorieva is now claiming that she has PTSD and a tumor resulting from the alleged assaults and stress associated with the protracted legal battles.

#8: Britney Spears & Kevin Federline

Britney Spears went through a very tough time in the mid-2000s. While Spears and Federline announced a divorce settlement in March 2007, Federline refused to sign divorce papers because he was afraid of his children being in the hands of an increasingly unstable Spears, whose behavioral problems were well-documented. While he finally agreed to joint custody and $15,000 a month in child support, Federline was eventually gifted full custody in September. Spears initially refused to hand her children over to Federline, but she was forced to relinquish custody after she was placed on involuntary psychiatric hold in January 2008.

#7: Usher & Tameka Foster

Usher and Tameka Foster, his personal wardrobe stylist, started dating in November 2005. They had two children together, Usher Raymond V and Naviyd, and Usher became stepfather of Foster’s three boys. Once Usher filed for divorce in June 2009, the two entered a heated custody battle that spanned three long years. Foster accused Usher of being an absentee father and of using drugs in front of his children, and Usher in turn spitefully cancelled Foster’s credit card. While Usher was granted full custody, Tameka later challenged the arrangement in court after Usher V nearly drowned in his father’s pool. However, the case was dismissed, and Usher retained full custody.

#6: Kate & Jon Gosselin

When “Jon & Kate Plus 8” premiered, it was an enjoyable look into the daily lives of a massive family. However, Jon and Kate’s relationship became increasingly strained until they finally announced their separation in 2009. The proceeding year was a mess of legal troubles, which included police being called to the house to resolve a domestic dispute. While Kate was given primary custody, the couple continued to make headlines with their feud, particularly in August 2017 when they got into a massive fight in an orthodontist’s office over their custody arrangement. A source has also told that the children prefer to be with Jon, which tends to upset Kate.

#5: Mel B & Stephen Belafonte

In March 2017, Mel B filed for divorce from her husband of nearly ten years, Stephen Belafonte. The two then entered a messy legal battle that saw Mel accusing Stephen of emotional and physical abuse. Mel then ordered Stephen away from her daughter Angel, as she had reportedly gained a solid relationship with the girl’s biological father, Eddie Murphy. A letter supposedly written by Angel also claimed that she never wanted to see Stephen again. Stephen later asked a judge to send their daughter Madison into therapy, as he believes that Mel has brainwashed Madison against him.

#4: Halle Berry & Gabriel Aubry

Despite their relatively friendly split in 2010, Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry quickly entered a vicious custody battle that escalated into physical assault and threats of murder. Despite agreeing to joint custody of their daughter, Berry wanted to move with her to France to be with her new boyfriend, Olivier Martinez. A judge denied Berry’s request, leading Martinez to allegedly tell Aubry that he would murder him if he did not allow them to go. This in turn led to brutal physical altercation. Only a few days later, a mutual custody agreement was finally made, and Berry was ordered to pay her ex $16,000 a month in child support.

#3: Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie

Even the most popular couple in Hollywood can have problems. Jolie shocked the world in September 2016 when she announced that she was divorcing Brad Pitt and seeking physical custody of the children. Throughout the subsequent years, Pitt has battled child abuse allegations and the children have split their time between each parent, often moving with the actors to various filming locations like Los Angeles and London. Jolie then revealed that Pitt had not paid child support, a claim that Pitt called untrue. The court granted Pitt more visitation time in August 2018 while the actors continue to sort out a long-term solution.

#2: Woody Allen & Mia Farrow

Woody Allen’s personal life has long been the subject of intense media scrutiny. In January 1992, Allen’s partner Mia Farrow found nude photographs of her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, in Allen’s possession. This quickly led to their separation, and Allen in turn married Previn. Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow then accused Allen of molesting her when she was seven years old. In 1993, Allen was denied custody of his three children. The ruling stated that Allen was self-absorbed, that he lacked judgment, and that his “behavior towards Dylan was grossly inappropriate,” leading to the rejected bid for custody and a “careful monitoring of his future contact with the children.”

#1: Alec Baldwin & Kim Basinger

In 2001, Kim Basinger filed for divorce from Alec Baldwin, leading to an incredibly nasty custody dispute over their only child, Ireland. While the two agreed to joint custody, Baldwin alleged that Basinger totally controlled Ireland and her relationship with him by denying visitation and preventing Ireland’s access to a telephone. Baldwin’s frustrations eventually led to an infamous voicemail that tarnished his reputation and led him to consider suicide. However, he reconsidered, knowing that Basinger’s team would consider it a win. He also called the family court system “corrupt, inefficient, lazy [and] stupid” and said that it was full of “the most God-awful people.” So, yeah, not a very good time.


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