Hayden Panettiere discussed the custody situation regarding her daughter during a very frank interview on Red Table Talk this week, and now lawyers have weighed in on her circumstances.
The Nashville star, 33, has been open about her experience with alcohol and opioid addiction and how they affected her personal life and career and yesterday she detailed the misconceptions about her journey as a mother to her daughter Kaya, who lives in Ukraine with her ex, Wladimir Klitschko.
Panettiere, who shot to international fame as a teenager when she landed a role in the series Heroes and was acting from the age of 11 in soap operas and films such as Remember the Titans, previously revealed that she was offered various substances from adults from a young age.
What ensued was years of substance abuse followed by an experience with postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter.
“The comments that people made, or things that they assumed about my situation with my daughter were just so off and heartbreaking,” Panettiere told co-hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield Norris and guest host Kelly Osbourne on the Red Table Talk episode.
The actress’ daughter currently lives in Ukraine with her father but Panettiere said that the decision to give Klitschko custody of Kaya was not a “discussion.”
“If [Klitschko] had come to me and said I think because of where you’re at right now and your struggles that you’re having, it would be good for her to be over here with me for a while—which if I had probably had enough of a conversation I would’ve said okay that makes sense, I get it, I’ll come there to visit and stuff like that.”
“Because of the way that it was done, it was very upsetting,” she continued. “I mean, it was the worst signing those papers, the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever, ever had to do in my life.”
Following the interview, two lawyers talked to Newsweek about the legality surrounding custody when a parent has substance abuse issues.
“While courts take substance abuse very seriously when making custody determinations, courts also strongly support the concept that a child needs both parents in his/her life,” Jacqueline Newman, managing partner at NY-based Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP told Newsweek.
“Courts applaud and support parents who are taking the necessary steps to treat a substance abuse problem.”
Newman added that precautions are often taken to ensure the safety of a child (such as drug testing and supervised visits, if necessary, etc.), but parenting access can still take place even while a parent is in the process of recovery.
“Maintaining (safe) parenting access between the parent and child is very important while a person moves through his/her recovery,” she added.
Evan D. Schein, a New York-based divorce and family law attorney from the same practice, agreed that “demonstrating responsibility and good parental judgment are key factors in child custody determinations.”
“When substance abuse is an issue, fortunately there is no shortage of available resources to help a parent on the road to recovery. Judges strongly favor both parents being fully involved in a child’s life but to ensure the involvement is appropriate, safe, and healthy, Judges are going to err on the side of caution,” he told Newsweek.
Newsweek has reached out to Panettiere for comment.
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