In the past five months, separated and divorced parents have had to navigate a whole new set of rules for how to share custody of their children in a pandemic. How do kids travel back and forth between households safely? Who gets to decide what is safe? Now, unfortunately, Heidi Klum and Seal are among those disagreeing about how to co-parent their four children, and Klum has taken her ex-husband to court over it.
The problem is that Klum wants to take her children — Leni (16), Henry (14), Johan (13), and Lou (10) — to Germany with her to film season 16 of Germany’s Next Top Model for three and a half months in October, according to court documents obtained by The Blast. Though she states in the documents that Seal (real name: Henry Samuel) initially agreed to that arrangement back in April, he has apparently changed his mind.
“[T]he children spend the vast majority of their time living exclusively with me,” she reportedly stated. “Henry’s time is sporadic at best. In 2020 so far, he has spent about six weeks total with Leni, six weeks total with Henry, ten days total with Johan, and ten days total with Lou.”
The singer’s supposed objection to Klum taking the children with her is concern for their safety as they travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But rather than have the children in his house full time while she’s away, he wants them to stay with her staff and continue to visit him “sporadically” The Blast reports.
What’s confusing is that COVID-19 cases are much higher in Los Angeles than they are in Germany, so it’s hard to argue that they’re any safer at home. The only possible issue is in getting there and back. But Klum asserts that she will be taking all necessary precautions.
Though we’re talking about a supermodel TV host and a multi-platinum recording artist, this dispute mirrors what so many divorced parents are going through in 2020. Back in April, SheKnows discussed this complicated issue with Penelope Hefner, a family law attorney for Sodoma Law in Charlotte, N.C.
“There’s a lot of fear on both sides of the issue,” she told us. “It’s fear of not seeing your kid, but then it’s also fear of the health risks.”
From the outside, it’s difficult to tell whether there is a real concern over the virus, or it’s just being used as an excuse. For the sake of everyone’s peace of mind, it is, of course, better to hash out safety concerns outside of the court.
“Ask them what they’re doing in terms of taking precautions,” Hefner advised. “Start there because they’re making a lot of assumptions that the other person is or is not doing something. Ask them their position on social distancing; ask them about changing of clothes, about hand washing, about disinfecting. Have the conversation. If it’s clear that they’re not on the same page with you, and if you really do have concerns, that’s when you go to your attorney.”
If you’re going through a divorce or separation from a partner, read this guide to custody and child support agreements.
In happier celebrity news, we love how these famous parents talk about their nannies.