5 Celebrity Custody Battles

By: Maria Trimarchi

Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Till death do you part. Or maybe not. If you're a married American, you have about a 50-50 chance that your marriage will end in a divorce [source: U.S. Census Bureau]. For better or for worse, celebrities are no different from the rest of us when it comes to matters of the heart -- except there's actually one big difference: Celebrity divorces are often played out in the public eye. Protecting yourself, your family and your kids from the tumult of divorce is difficult for any couple, but when you add the media spotlight, a nasty divorce and custody battle can seem even uglier.

We've pulled five celebrity custody battles that have played out in a media circus, including everything from accusations of mental illness, substance abuse and sexually transmitted disease exposure.


5: Pamela Anderson & Tommy Lee

Baywatch babe Pam Anderson and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee married in 1995 after spending just three days together in Mexico, and went on to have two sons, Brandon and Dylan, during their three-year marriage.

The pair divorced in 1998, after Tommy served 180 days in jail for assaulting Pam (although they nearly divorced twice before). At that time, the boys went to live with their mother.


In late 2001, though, Pam petitioned for full custody of the boys, then ages 5 and 3. Among the charges filed against Tommy were claims that he became abusive when drinking and presented a danger to those around him. She also alleged that he knowingly exposed her to hepatitis C, a liver disease she claims to have contracted after sharing a tattoo needle with him -- a disease Tommy denies having. Pam requested Tommy have only monitored visits with the boys. She was turned down. In 2002, after several rounds in court, Tommy and Pam agreed to share custody.

In the end, the two continue to share custody of their sons, and even briefly reconciled (again) in 2008.

4: Dwyane Wade & Siohvaughn Wade

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade's divorce proceedings from his wife Siohvaughn were ugly, and that's before you factor in custody of their two sons.

They were high school sweethearts who married in 2002. They separated in 2007, and soon after, Siohvaughn began making claims against Dwyane, alleging that he subjected her and their children to emotional and physical abuse and abandonment. She also accused Dwayne of infidelity and of giving her an STD, which she later retracted. Dwayne, who was named "Father of the Year" in 2007 by the National Father's Day Committee, countered that Siohvaughn was not fit to parent, had carried on extramarital affairs and kept the children from seeing him.


While their divorce was finalized in June of 2010, the custody battle raged on until March 2011 when Dwyane was awarded sole custody of his boys, with Siohvaughn allowed to spend time with them on an every-other-weekend schedule.

3: Britney Spears & Kevin Federline

Some people predicted their relationship was doomed from the start, and these two stars have certainly been in and out of the media spotlight and the courtroom.
Some people predicted their relationship was doomed from the start, and these two stars have certainly been in and out of the media spotlight and the courtroom.
John Sciulli/WireImage/Getty Images

When Britney Spears and Kevin Federline married in 2004, many predicted it wouldn't last, but no one could predict what would happen after the divorce papers were filed.

Both parents petitioned for physical custody of their two sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, a request that was granted to Britney. But soon after the divorce was finalized in 2007, Britney began to act bizarrely in public -- who can forget the photos of her shaving her head? In response, Kevin accused his ex-wife of alcohol and drug abuse, and claimed she put their sons in danger. In 2007, Britney partied hard, went to rehab and was whisked away from her home and committed to a psychiatric ward. In 2007, she also lost custody of Sean and Jayden.


By the end of 2007, Britney was granted monitored visits with her sons, but by 2008, her visitation rights were suspended and Kevin was granted full legal and physical custody of the boys.

Since then, Britney and Kevin have been able to move closer to joint custody, with close monitoring of Britney's progress.

2: Alec Baldwin & Kim Basinger

Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger were married in 1993 and welcomed a daughter, Ireland, in 1995. By 2002, though, their marriage was over and Kim was awarded physical custody of Ireland (with Alec awarded joint legal custody and visitation rights).

Then began Alec's allegations that Kim brainwashed their daughter and restricted his visits. He accused her of being mentally unstable. She accused him of unstable, aggressive behavior.


The battle raged on, in and out of the courts and the media for years. In 2007, an angry voicemail Alec left for his daughter went public and landed the couple back in court. As a result of his outburst, Alec temporarily lost his visitation rights. Today Alec continues to advocate for parental rights and against what he calls "parental alienation syndrome."

1: Mel Gibson & Oksana Grigorieva

In April 2009, actor Mel Gibson scandalously showed off his new love Oksana Grigorieva on the red carpet. What's so scandalous about it? Mel and his wife of 28 years, Robyn, had just filed for divorce two weeks prior, and Oksana was pregnant with Mel's child.

In November 2009, their daughter Lucia was born.


Scandal dogged the couple, and the flames fanned higher after Lucia was born. In January 2010, Oksana accused Mel of physical abuse. She also went on to allege that Mel had physically abused his ex-wife (a claim denied by both Mel and Robyn). In the following months, Oksana, now Mel's ex-girlfriend, accused Mel of both hitting her in the face and threatening to kill her -- and had audio tapes to prove the abuse. During this time, the two settled on an out-of-court child support agreement. Over? Not even close. Oksana sought a new settlement. Mel accused Oksana of extortion. A judge handed out restraining orders to both and confiscated the audio tapes for examination. At this time, no custody settlement has been reached.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • AOL News. "Dwyane Wade's Divorce Takes Ugly Turn." Jan. 18, 2009. (April 8, 2011)http://www.aolnews.com/2009/01/18/dwyane-wades-divorce-takes-ugly-turn/
  • CBS News. "Britney's Meltdown." 2008. (April 8, 2011)http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/20/entertainment/main2495238.shtml
  • CBS News. "Judge Orders Britney To Turn Over Kids." Oct. 1, 2007. (April 8, 2011)http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/01/entertainment/main3316291.shtml
  • CNN. "After two years, Britney has had enough." Nov. 7, 2006. (April 8, 2011)http://articles.cnn.com/2006-11-07/entertainment/spears.divorce.reut_1_kevin-federline-jayden-james-sean-preston?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ
  • CNN. "Pamela Anderson says she has hepatitis C." March 20, 2002. (April 8, 2011)http://articles.cnn.com/2002-03-20/entertainment/pamela.anderson.hepatitis_1_liver-disease-hepatitis-viral-infection?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ
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