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Child Custody Battles of the Rich and Famous

Clarkston Legal Oct. 7, 2023

musk and grimesWhen couples cohabitate and have children, they risk having a family court judge make important decisions in the event of a break-up. When the couple is wealthy or famous or both, they have the added feature of the entire world scrutinizing their private business.

One example of this dynamic is the recently-filed child custody case involving Elon Musk's three minor children. Musk's co-parent is Claire Boucher, a muscian known as "Grimes"; last week, she filed a petition for custody and parenting time in the Unified Family Court of the Superior Court of California in the County of San Francisco.

In such a filing, paternity is established or acknowledged; a parenting schedule is established; and child support is calculated. Can you imagine the support obligation for the world's richest man with a net worth in the neighborhood of $250 billion.

In Musk's case, the family court ordered that the children initially remain in California; a standard restraining order for Cali's family courts. Apparently, the children's residence is one of the initial matters in dispute.

During the couple's "on-again-off-again" relationship, they managed to have three children, by traditional means and via surrogacy. Some news agencies have reported that Musk beat Grimes to court by quietly filing a custody suit in Texas in early September alleging that Grimes lived with him and the children in Texas and only fled to San Francisco after being served with Musk's custody papers.

Grimes' lawyer, Samantha Bley DeJean, will be facing the best lawyers money can hire. With three divorces under his belt, Musk is a veteran of the California family courts; he now has eleven children. In the custody filing, Grimes alleges that Musk was preventing the Mother from seeing one of the children.

Depending on the state of "residency" of the children and depending on who filed first, this case could invoke the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act [UCCJEA]. This is a uniform law adopted by all states except Massachusetts; so the law controls in both California and Texas.

The UCCJEA is a comprehensive law that governs the jurisdiction of state family courts and regulates their powers to issue initial custody orders and to otherwise modify and resolve disputes between parents across state lines. The law applies to cases of divorce, parental termination, minor guardianships, and cases seeking protection from domestic violence.

We here at Clarkston Legal will be monitoring these cases to see which state's family court takes jurisdiction. With such high-profile co-parents and lawyers, there will likely be aggressive procedural maneuvering.

If you have a child custody matter involving the child's presence here in Michigan or another state, our lawyers are well-versed in the provisions of the UCCJEA. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation.