When it comes to the celebrity world, people often imagine them having everything and anything they could ever desire. With all the money in the world at their disposal and every luxury at their fingertips, it seems that they live on a cloud of pleasure wherever they go. Yet, anyone that has ever endured a tragedy in their life understands that not everything comes with a price tag and oftentimes, the best things in life are free. From the joy of holding your baby for the first time to the magic seen through your children’s eyes on Christmas morning, some things in life are universal. Regardless of whether or not you’re a single parent living on food stamps or a celebrity mom with drawers filled with children’s couture, certain aspects about parenting are the same for the poor and famous alike.
It would be foolish to think that celebrities never have to deal with the same issues regarding parenting just because they have a famous name or a seemingly bottomless pit of a checking account. After all, not everyone is destined to become the perfect parent and money can’t buy a set of values or the unconditional love that is expected of a mother. In fact, sometimes fame and money are just the thing to tempt some of these unfit mothers to behave in a way that causes them to lose their children. Check out our list of the 15 celebrity mothers that lost custody of their kids and see how even fame and money can’t buy a happy home.
15 Jaid Barrymore
Drew Barrymore was first introduced to audiences at a very young age as a child actress and the world fell in love with her when she portrayed Gertie in the iconic film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, in 1982. She starred in a string of films during her younger years but the most jaw-dropping moments happened off-camera. Her mother, Jaid, was famous for taking Drew to nightclubs (probably to help her get in) and Drew later gave an interview with People magazine stating that she had her “first drink at 9, began smoking marijuana at 10 and at 12 took up cocaine.” At the age of 13-years-old, her mother had her committed to a mental institution. As it became blatantly obvious that it wasn’t in Drew’s best interests to be under the “care” of her mother, Jaid, she began the process of being emancipated. She was successfully emancipated at the age of 14 and was thus granted to no longer be considered a minor and legally became an adult, no longer under the legal custody of her mother.
14 Patricia Bentrup
Macaulay Culkin was one of the world’s favorite child actors when he first started his career in Hollywood, with huge hits like the Home Alone film series and My Girl. Yet, at the age of 14, he decided to retire from acting. Shortly afterward, there was a bitter custody battle between his mother and father and the biggest dispute was over who would be in charge of his trust. After making millions throughout his acting career, there was a substantial amount of money to fight over. At the age of 16-years-old, Culkin began the process of being emancipated from both of his parents. There was a dispute over how his parents were spending his income. During his younger years, the dispute between his parents resulted in Culkin’s trust being taken out of the charge of his family and put in charge of an outside accountant until Culkin reached adulthood. Yet, the emancipation allowed him to take full charge of his trust. After a very lengthy legal process, Culkin’s parents were ordered to pay him a whopping $17 million.
13 Chrisoula Workman
Ariel Winter started her career as a voice actor for the Disney animated series, Sofia the First, and has gone on to become an acclaimed sitcom actor for the hit series, Modern Family. At the age of 14-years-old, there was a bitter custody battle over Ariel and the courts ultimately granted temporary legal custody to her older sister, Shanelle Gray. When Ariel turned 17-years-old, her older sister was granted permanent custody. Finally, Ariel became emancipated and was able to be considered a legal adult on her own so she could handle her own affairs. Ariel claimed that her childhood was filled with emotional and physical abuse by the hands of her mother, Chrisoula Workman, who has adamantly denied these claims. Workman infamously appeared on an episode of Dr. Phil, where she refuted the allegations. She also eluded that the reason was due to Ariel’s much older boyfriend at the time and her sister’s motivation to seek financial gain.
12 Courtney Love
Frances Bean Cobain is the daughter of Courtney Love and the late Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain. After her father’s suicide in 1994, she lived solely with her mother and reportedly the two had a rocky relationship for years. In fact, when Frances was only a few weeks old, she was taken away from Courtney after allegations surfaced that she was using drugs during her pregnancy. This wasn’t the last time that Courtney lost custody since there was another issue when Love was arrested after breaking into her ex-boyfriend’s house. Kurt’s mother, Wendy, was awarded custody until Love went through a bout of rehab two years later. When Frances was 17-years-old, a Los Angeles court again awarded temporary custody of Frances over to Kurt’s mother, Wendy. Since the world has seen the ever-ongoing downward spiral of Courtney Love with each new red carpet appearance and TV interview, it shouldn’t be surprising that she would lose custody of her daughter numerous times throughout the years.
11 Kelly Rutherford
Kelly Rutherford is an actress that has starred on both the big screen and TV but had far more success on the small screen. She had a substantial following as a soap opera actor, starred in the hit series, Melrose Place, and portrayed the character, Lily van der Woodsen, on Gossip Girl. Yet, the biggest drama was undoubtedly in her personal life. Like a horrible plotline in a movie like Not Without My Daughter, Rutherford went through a custody battle with her ex-husband, Daniel Giersch. The couple reached a temporary settlement of joint custody over their children but Giersch could no longer travel due to his visa being revoked. There was speculation over Giersch having some shady dealings including drugs and weapons exchanges in South America, so the judge ruled that Rutherford would have to travel to France in order to see her children. In 2015, Rutherford was awarded temporary sole custody but then it was revoked due to jurisdictional issues surrounding the case. After repeated flights to see her children, legal fees battling with her ex-husband and additional fees to obtain custody of her children, Rutherford ultimately had to file for bankruptcy due to an abundance of debt.
10 Tameka Foster
Tameka Foster married the R&B singer, Usher Raymond, in 2007 but the marriage was short-lived and only lasted two years. When the couple divorced, they embarked on a bitter custody battle of their two sons, Usher Raymond V and Naviyd Eli. The custody battle brought out extreme allegations against both parties, with Foster claiming that Usher’s traveling schedule as an R&B singer would prohibit him from taking adequate care of their children. Usher’s lawyer fought back by stating she was “incapable of being a proper parent” and continued by saying that she “does not have the emotional stability to or capacity to bond with them, and therefore she is handicapped.” Things became even worse when words uttered by Foster became known to the court; the judge ultimately awarded Usher with primary custody of their children. To this day, there seems to be continued bad blood between the two, with Foster claiming that many of their issues surrounded the fact that Usher was unfaithful during their marriage, with one of her bridesmaids no less.
9 Britney Spears
Britney Spears started off as a child celebrity when she was a Mouseketeer but didn’t gain true fame until she rose as a pop star after her first studio album debut in 1999. After a tumultuous relationship with Justin Timberlake and then the subsequent relationship with Kevin Federline, the Pop Princess became a mother and people wondered how she would fare all grown up and settled down. Yet, she didn’t seem to cope well with her celebrity status and constantly being in the spotlight. Paparazzi caught photos of Spears with some questionable parenting choices, including driving with her baby on her lap and almost dropping her baby on the street. In 2007, a judge ordered that Spears relinquish custody of her children, Sean Preston, and Jayden James, to Kevin Federline. This came after reports that Spears was engaging in “habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substance and alcohol” while she was supposedly taking care of their two children.
8 Janine Lindemulder
Janine Lindemulder had a career as an adult star appearing in a number of adult films and married the founder of West Coast Choppers, Jesse James, in 2002. The couple was even featured on the Discovery Channel special, Motorcycle Mania 3. While the special showed them during happy times, it also showed some volatile times that made Lindemulder look less than the perfect wife and mother. The couple wound up divorcing in 2004 and the courts awarded custody to Jesse James in 2011. There were a number of different factors that weighed in when awarding custody to the father in the case, with some wondering whether or not it was the fact that Jesse James was married to Sandra Bullock at the time. Bullock undoubtedly helped lead the courts to believe that they would be offering a much happier home. However, Lindemulder’s history of drug use and violence was probably the true reason behind swaying the courts. Lindemulder was even arrested for domestic abuse against James during their marriage.
7 Brooke Mueller
When Charlie Sheen married Brooke Mueller in 2008, the world didn’t know much about her besides the fact that she was another beautiful blonde and another woman on the long list of lovers of Charlie Sheen. Yet, the public quickly learned more about Mueller once reports began to surface about her partying ways and her questionable parenting practices. There was a nasty custody battle that ensued after the demise of Mueller and Sheen’s marriage. Both Mueller and Sheen were dealing with issues of substance abuse for years and on a number of occasions, their twin boys were taken from Mueller. The Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services determined that the home was unsafe due to her drug use and she lost custody. For a time, the twins were being raised by Sheen’s other ex-wife, Denise Richards. The public started commending Richards for being such a “saint” by taking care of Sheen’s children from another woman.
6 Siohvaughn Wade
There aren’t many celebrities that can boast still being married to the women they fell in love with prior to gaining their fame and fortune. Unfortunately, it’s actually quite common for a celebrity to ditch their former sweethearts or spouses in exchange of an equally famous celebrity partner. In the case of Dwyane Wade, he began his road to becoming a sports celebrity while he was already attached to his high school sweetheart, Siohvaughn. The couple married in 2002 but divorced in 2007. After a series of harsh allegations, Siohvaughn was only allowed minimal visitations of their children by 2010. While people wondered whether or not Dwyane was using his celebrity status to steal his children away from their poor mother, they got their answer when she showed up outside of the Chicago’s Daley Center with a sign that read, “NBA Miami Heat star, mother of his children on the streets.” Obviously, her erratic behavior and choice to try and flaunt her decreased mental state wasn’t exactly what the courts would deem as fit behavior. Currently, the boys are being raised by Dwyane and his new wife, Gabrielle Union.
5 Lisa Bonet
Lisa Bonet is best known for her role as Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show, even though she’s portrayed a myriad of other characters since her time on the iconic series. Bonet married rocker, Lenny Kravitz, in 1987 and the world thought they were the perfect couple until they ultimately divorced in 1993. Their daughter, Zoe, reportedly asked her mother if she could live with her father at the age of 11-years-old. Throughout the years, Kravitz and Bonet have had a very close relationship, despite their divorce. They have made a conscious decision to continue to love and respect each other and not just for the sake of Zoe. Ultimately, Bonet relinquished sole custody of Zoe to remain with her father, Lenny Kravitz. Zoe is now thought of as a beautiful budding actress that has been in a number of blockbuster films. She has starred in the Divergent film series, X-Men: First Class and M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth.
4 Tamika Fuller
It isn’t a new scenario for a man to have a child out of wedlock nowadays but it does seem to make a few headlines when the child in question is conceived while they’re already dating someone else. Rapper, Ludacris, was dating his then-girlfriend, Eudoxie Mbouguiengue, when he fathered a child with Tamika Fuller. Fuller and Ludacris had a close relationship that many would categorize as a strong friendship but the baby surprise definitely redefined their relationship. In 2013, Ludacris sought to obtain full custody of their daughter, Cai Bella Bridges, and was surprisingly awarded custody by the courts. Ludacris is now married to Eudoxie Mbouguiengue, so they apparently got over the ordeal of him cheating on her and fathering a child with the other woman while they were dating. During the custody battle, Fuller accused Ludacris of trying to force her to get an abortion but that wasn’t enough to sway the courts.
3 Pilar Sanders
Pilar Sanders is the ex-wife of the Hall of Fame professional athlete, Deion Sanders. The couple was married in 1999 and ultimately divorced in 2013. The custody battle between the two became ugly and Pilar became pretty good at spewing out allegations and insults for all to hear at every opportunity. Deion ultimately sued Pilar for allegations of abuse and defamation. He ultimately won his lawsuit and gained sole custody of their two sons, Shilo Sanders and Shedeur Sanders. The courts gave the couple joint custody of their daughter, Shelomi. In December of 2014, Deion’s lawyers sought to bring Pilar in for several motions regarding the defamation suit. Pilar was sentenced to seven days in jail due to a contempt-of-court charge and lost all visitation rights to their three children. In 2016, Pilar again tried to appeal to the courts when she claimed that she was in need of financial help. She claimed that she could not afford to pay any fees owed to Deion from the defamation lawsuit and she has been unemployed for over 15 years.
2 Tamra Judge
Tamra Judge was first introduced to audiences as a housewife on the Bravo series, The Real Housewives of Orange County. When she first appeared on the series, she was married to her then-husband, Simon Barney. The couple had a tumultuous relationship that was shown with each new season and ultimately divorced. The demise of their marriage was depicted on the series and there was even a domestic abuse charge against Simon that had a major storyline on the series. Another huge part of her storyline was the fact that she had an estranged relationship with their daughter, Sidney. During the divorce, Simon attempted to get sole custody of all three of their children but it wasn’t granted by the judge. However, Sidney decided to live with her father in 2014 and cut off communication with her mother. Since then, things have become more civil between mother and daughter but it is still a heartbreaking story that Tamra is often reluctant to speak about on the series.
1 Jody Lynne Claman
Jody Lynne Claman was introduced to audiences through the TV series, The Real Housewives of Vancouver. The series was first aired in 2012 but hasn’t had a new episode since its second season. In the meantime, the world has had their fill of housewife drama off the screen since Claman had a very public custody battle that played itself out in the tabloids. Claman ultimately lost sole custody of her 8-year-old daughter to the girl’s father, Eran Friedlander. Claman was ordered by a judge to pay nearly $600,000 to Friedlander after joint custody was awarded. However, Claman was ordered to go back to court because she had breached the joint custody arrangement. The courts ultimately granted Friedlander with sole custody after Claman was found in contempt for breaching the previous order. Since Claman was unable to prove that there would be irreparable harm to the daughter if she were to be in sole custody of her father, the custody arrangement remained.