There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, and many moms and dads make mistakes while trying to raise their children — and celebrity parents are no different. They are trying to do the best they can to raise little people to become well-mannered, well-rounded, and genuinely nice individuals. But things don’t always go according to plan, and there have been many celebrities who have ended up losing custody of their children.
Some were not granted primary custody not because they weren’t dedicated parents but rather because a messy divorce meant a judge had to choose which parent was able to provide a more stable environment. Others, like Kelly Rutherford, have had an international custody clash because her children’s father lives in a completely different country.
And then there are those celebrity parents who have made big mistakes, and their lifestyle choices have resulted in their children being removed from their home and placed elsewhere temporarily. Some, like Britney Spears, have cleaned up their act and are now dedicated to being the best possible parents, while others have had less favorable outcomes.
Below are 20 celebrities who’ve lost custody of their children, and in some cases, A-lister children who have chosen to essentially divorce their parents and were granted emancipation.
20 Ariel Winter Said Bye To Her Mom When She Was Legally Emancipated At 17
Ariel Winter rose to fame thanks to her role on Modern Family, but her acting skills are not the only things that have made headlines. She also happens to have a very complicated relationship with her mother, Chrisoula Workman, and there have been many allegations made against her — which she denies.
According to E! News, when Winter was aged 14, her older sister, Shanelle Gray, filed a permanent guardianship petition to get Winter away from Workman. At the time of the petition, Winter was living with her sister. Fast forward a few years, when Winter was 17, she was legally emancipated from her mother, Seventeen reports.
19 Kelly Rutherford Had A Transatlantic Custody Issue With Her Children’s Father
Living in different countries created a long (more than a decade) and emotional custody issue for Kelly Rutherford and her ex-husband, Daniel Giersch, who were battling it out over their two children, Helena and Hermes. According to New York Post, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge “temporarily ordered” the children to live in France with their father after his visa was revoked and he was unable to enter the country — not because Rutherford was a bad parent.
Despite what her children had been through, Rutherford said would not stop trying for custody because she exclaimed, "These are my kids!"
18 Brooke Mueller’s Troubles Resulted In Her Losing Custody For A Full Year
Brooke Mueller and Charlie Sheen have twin boys, Max and Bob, and both parents have battled with personal issues. Their lifestyles caused a number of issues regarding the parenting of their children, and at one point, in 2013, People magazine notes that Mueller lost custody of her children, who were removed from her home.
Sheen’s ex, Denise Richards, offered to help out in the situation and was “granted temporary custody” of the boys. The publication also reports that Mueller was “not happy about the decision.” Mueller made headlines again in 2014, when it was reported that she had regained full custody, The Independent reports.
17 Courtney Love Temporarily Lost Custody Of Her Daughter, Frances Bean Cobain
Courtney Love has had to raise her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, on her own after the untimely passing of Kurt Cobain. The two have had a complicated relationship, filled with ups and downs, and there was a point when Love would not have been in the running for any mother of the year award.
Love made headlines in 2009, for losing custody of her 17-year-old daughter, for the second time, although the reasons were not immediately clear why she had lost custody. According to Daily Mail, Frances Bean went to live with her paternal grandmother and aunt, who were named her temporary guardians.
16 Kim Delaney’s Teenage Son Testified Against Her, In A Bid To Get Her The Help She Needed
Kim Delaney is best-known for her role as Detective Diane Russell on NYPD Blue, yet she ended up having a brush with the law. In 2005, she made headlines, not for her acting, but because she lost custody of her son. At the time, Delaney’s son Jack Cortese was 15, and he actually testified against his mother in court, People reports.
Delaney’s personal issues had resulted in her embarrassing her son and endangering him with her driving. Jack told the courts that he did not want to see his mother until she got the help she needed, and he was living with his father, Joe Cortese.
15 Britney Spears Is A Great Mom Now, But Her Meltdown Left Kevin Federline Caring For Their Sons
Britney Spears is a great mom to her two sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, and although she and ex-husband, Kevin Federline didn’t end their relationship on the best of terms, they are now dedicated to co-parenting.
Spears often speaks about how motherhood has changed her life in the best way, and she’s so proud of her sons, but there was a time when Spears didn’t have custody of her children at all. According to a 2007 report from Today, “she was ordered to relinquish custody of her children by a judge,” who had cited her lifestyle as the problem. Federline gained custody of their children at the time.
14 Sharon Stone And Her Ex-Husband Phil Bronstein Lived In Different Cities, And So, Their Battle Began
Sharon Stone and Phil Bronstein are yet another former couple who had a custody clash, made more complicated by the fact that they lived in different cities. In 2008, Stone made headlines for losing custody of her son, Roan Joseph. According to Daily Mail, a judge granted Bronstein “permanent sole physical custody of [the] child,” unless Stone relocated closer to San Francisco, where their child attended school — she is reported to have wanted to move her son to Los Angeles, to attend school there.
It was also reported that Bronstein was able to provide a more stable environment for Roan, with the ruling stating that living with his father would be “a more structured continuity, stable, secure, and consistent home.”
13 Tyrese Gibson And His Ex-Wife Had A Custody Clash That Didn’t End Favorably
Tyrese Gibson and his ex-wife, Norma Mitchell Gibson, have a daughter, Shayla, and the pair have been involved in a lengthy (and particularly emotional) battle for custody since their divorce in 2009.
In 2017, the couple was granted joint custody (50/50), after a judge denied Norma’s request for a permanent restraining order, People reports. Tyrese celebrated this, saying, “It is a win because she gets to spend equal time with both of her parents in joint legal custody while she continues to grow in a happy and healthy environment.”
But the custody battle is still not over! According to People, Gibson now wants primary custody. He has requested this so that his daughter can move cities and live with him.
12 Jennifer Hudson’s Former Partner Had Full Control Of Their Son
Jennifer Hudson didn’t lose custody of her son David Jr. because she was an unfit parent, but rather because her work commitments meant she had to temporarily relocate to film The Voice UK. According to TMZ, in 2017, Hudson and her former partner David Otunga “reached a temporary custody agreement which gives him custody” of their son. The publication also notes that Otunga has claimed he had been his son’s primary caregiver from a young age because of Hudson’s schedule and travel.
Fast forward a few years, and in 2019, the pair are still in disagreement regarding custody, but they intend to keep it private. The Blst. reports that Hudson has asked the court to seal the details of the proceedings.
11 Drew Barrymore’s Famous Parents Lost Custody Of Her When She Was Just 14
Ariel Winter is not the only celebrity who has wanted to be emancipated from their parents, and long before Winter's struggles with her mom, Drew Barrymore had filed to be emancipated from her famous parents. Seventeen notes that emancipation is a legal process which allows an individual to take control over their own life, including their living situations and financial decisions.
Barrymore’s parents were actors Jaid and John Barrymore, and they allowed their daughter to work in the entertainment industry as a child actress. Drew told The Guardian that she had to be emancipated from her mother “because we had driven our relationship into the ground.” She also noted that instead of being taken to school, her mom took her to parties. So, perhaps it was only a matter of time before she went to the courts. Drew was emancipated at 14.
10 Tameka Foster And Usher’s Marriage Didn’t Exactly End On The Best Of Terms
Usher Raymond and Tameka Foster’s marriage didn’t last, but their union did produce two sons, Naviyd Ely and Usher Raymond V. When their relationship ended in 2009, both parents wanted custody, and this resulted in a battle over primary custody, which unfortunately for Foster, she lost.
According to HollywoodLife, the judge ruled in Usher’s favor, and the decision left the mom in tears. The publication also notes that Usher’s lawyer claimed the children were “thriving” living with the musician.
Usher was particularly gracious after the court made their decision, and according to People, he hugged Foster and “whispered ‘I’m sorry’ several times in her ear.”
9 Lisa Bonet And Lenny Kravitz Are Total Goals When It Comes To Amicable Exes, But Zoë Chose To Live With Her Dad
Lisa Bonet And Lenny Kravitz’s marriage didn’t end well, but unlike many other couples who split, these two remained on good terms. They are close friends now and have co-parented their daughter, Zoë, like absolute pros.
Zoë made the decision to live with her dad when she was 11, Daily Mail notes. Speaking of her decision, she told Rolling Stone (via Daily Mail) that her dad’s rockstar life was a bit extravagant. “Like, ‘Dude, can you just be low-key a little bit?’” she said, adding that she would have liked him to at least wear a shirt that wasn’t see-through.
8 Despite Tamra Judge’s Ex-Husband Not Being Awarded Full Custody, Her Daughter Still Opted To Live With Him
Tamra Judge gained fame as a Real Housewives star, but her relationship with her daughter, Sidney, has also made headlines because Judge has stated that they are not speaking terms. According to People, things soured between Judge and her daughter after her divorce from Simon Barney, in 2011.
The former couple was actually granted joint custody of their three children, but Sidney had other plans. She wanted to live with her father full-time, and Judge allowed her to do so, granting him full-custody. So yes, she lost custody of her child, but a judge didn’t make that decision.
7 Chris Rock And His Wife Split After Almost 20 Years, And She Did Not Get Primary Custody Of Their Children
Chris Rock’s decision to split from Malaak Compton-Rock in 2014 was unexpected. It was not something fans saw coming, considering the couple had been together for almost two decades and shared two children, daughters, Zahara and Lola.
When it came time determine custody, Compton-Rock wanted sole custody, The Mirror reports, but this is not something she got. She didn’t lose out completely either, because according to Rolling Stone the former couple has shared custody — something Chris Rock is still trying to get used to. The publication notes that he has expressed how much his ex-wife dislikes him by referencing how if someone wants 52 percent of custody, they want you gone.
6 Ludacris' Baby Mama, Tamika Fuller, Lost Custody Of Their Daughter
Some celebrities part ways amicably, and they are dedicated to raising their children, others, like Ludacris and his baby mama Tamika Fuller, end their relationship on bad terms. The former couple shares a daughter and they have been in and out of the courts trying to gain custody of her.
According to The Jasmine Brand, in 2015, Ludacris was granted primary custody of their daughter. The publication states that it was determined by the court that Ludacris was the more fit parent, and although Fuller appealed the custody decision, she was once again denied.
LoveBScott notes that Fuller has spoken publicly out about losing custody of her daughter, a decision which she is understandably upset about.
5 Alec Baldwin And Kim Basinger's Lengthy Conflict Over Custody For Their Daughter Finally Concluded, Years Later
Alec Baldwin has a good relationship with his daughter, Ireland, now, but he and his ex-wife Kim Basinger went through years of court battles over custody. According to C. Sheet, in his 2008 book, A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce, Baldwin stated that Basinger tried to restrict his access to their daughter, and it was hard for him to be in her life during this time.
The pair spent millions in legal costs trying to reach an agreement, but they did, finally, in 2002, agreeing to joint custody, E! News reports. But before they got to that point, there were a lot of bad feelings.
Basinger told The Edit that her divorce from Baldwin was bitter and public, which ultimately had an effect on the way she would raise her daughter. She wanted her to be “free.”
4 Janine Lindemulder Wasn’t Granted Custody Of Her Children With Jesse James
Jesse James and Janine Lindemulder had a brief marriage, and when they split it did not end well. Things were made even more complicated by the fact that they shared a daughter, Sunny, and the couple was involved in a custody battle.
In 2009, James and his then-wife, Sandra Bullock, made headlines after they won custody of his daughter, and Lindemulder was restricted to daytime visits, Daily Mail reports. The following year, in 2010, James addressed how his disagreements withLindemulder had had an effect on their daughter. He told a court that Sunny's contact with her mother was giving her sleep problems, People reports.
3 Denise Richards Was Awarded Full Custody Of Her Children With Charlie Sheen
Denise Richards has two daughters, Sam and Lola, with ex-husband, Charlie Sheen, and she has full legal custody of them. And according to TMZ, the former couple previously had joint custody, but the troubles in Sheen’s life made him agree to Richards terms and willingly give up custody of his daughters. The publication notes that with full legal custody, Richards is able to make important decisions, including matters involving her daughters' health and schooling.
Sheen’s daughters do still see him though, and in 2017, Richards shared a rare photo of the four of them enjoying a family dinner. She captioned the post with, "We've had a colorful year… at the end of the day, we're still a family.”
2 Davinia Taylor’s Personal Problems Led To Her Losing Custody Of Her Daughter
Actress Davinia Taylor previously lost custody of her son, Grey, and she has been willing to speak out about the hurt this caused her — although there was a silver lining in the end.
During an appearance on Lorraine (via The Mirror), Taylor addressed how her personal troubles had led her down a path which resulted in her ex-husband Dave Gardner (who is now in a relationship with Liv Tyler, FYI) gaining full custody of their son. But this incident also served as a wake-up call for Taylor and helped spur her recovery.
Now, she shares responsibility for her daughter with her ex, and says “everything’s fine.”
1 A Video (Amid A Clash For Custody) Caused David Hasselhoff To Temporarily Lose His Parental Rights
David Hasselhoff is loved by many, but he has had his ups and downs over the years and has had to deal with some personal problems. These problems made headlines in 2007 (the year after he and his wife, Pamela Bach split), when a video surfaced of him, looking quite out of it.
The evidence resulted in a temporary loss of his parental rights and was unable to visit his daughters, Hayley and Taylor, TMZ reports. However, when he went to court, the judge granted him full custody — People reported that onlookers saw Bach crying about the decision.
Sources: E! News, New York Post, People, The Independent, Today, Daily Mail, TMZ, The Guardian, Hollywood Life, The Mirror, Rolling Stone, The Jasmine Brand, Love B Scott, CheatSheet.