An ongoing child custody dispute between actress Halle Berry and her ex, Gabriel Autry, took an unconventional turn in late June, when a judge ordered Berry to pay child support to Autry for their daughter, 4 year-old Nahla Aubrey. Berry must pay $20,000 a month to Aubrey under the judge's order. Berry has said she wants to move to Paris, France with Nahla. The specific custody arrangement remains to be determined.
The 45 year-old Berry began dating Aubrey, a 36 year-old model from Canada, in 2005. Their daughter, Nahla Ariela Aubry, was born in March 2008. The couple reportedly separated in April 2010. Berry started dating French actor Olivier Martinez later in 2010, to whom she is now engaged. She has stated that she wants to move to Paris not only because of her fiance, but also to escape from the intense media scrutiny that comes from being a celebrity in Los Angeles. Her wish to raise Nahla in Paris appears to be the major point of contention between her and Aubrey.
Aubrey filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court on December 30, 2010, asking the court to formally recognize him as Nahla's father. He and Berry, according to his court filing, had already signed paternity documents. Since they were not married at the time of the child's birth, Aubrey has no legal presumption of paternity. Aubrey also asked the court to award joint custody of Nahla to both parents.
Berry responded to Aubrey’s petition in January 2011, reportedly asking the court to award custody to her. Her spokesperson told People that Berry had “serious concerns” for the child’s “well-being” while in Aubrey’s care. The spokesperson also claimed that Berry had tried to resolve the matter, but that Aubrey was not cooperative. This is, unfortunately, a common situation in child custody disputes that end up in court, with parents unable to agree. In deciding a disputed child custody matter, a court must consider, first and foremost, the “best interest of the child,” which is a highly subjective and undefined standard.
The two parents reportedly worked on a settlement through 2011 and into 2012. A psychologist performed a “custody evaluation” for the court, with the goal of determining which parent could better care for the child. The psychologist’s report to the court reportedly favored Berry, and media reports in early June 2012 suggested that she would soon be able to move to Paris with Nahla. As of late June, Berry must make child support payments to Aubrey, but she may still be able to move with Nahla.
The court cannot prevent Berry from moving to Paris, but it can order that the child reside in California, or that each parent have particular rights of access. A court could, in theory, award custody of a child to one parent but restrict the child’s residence to a specified area. The parent could still move away, but the child would have to remain with the other parent. The court could also order the parent moving away with the child to make accommodations for the other parent to have visitation and access to the child.
Thomas Huguenor, a certified family law specialist, certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization, has 35 years of experience guiding the people of San Diego through the family law process, including divorce and child support. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us online or at (858) 458-9500.
More Blog Posts:
Child Custody Move Away Cases Increase, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, September 28, 2011
Child Custody News: Mom Loses Custody Move Away Case, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, May 16, 2011
Child Custody, Support, Mansions, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, March 21, 2011