This story was first published in the New York Post.
“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi is facing a custody battle from the father of her young daughter.
Adam Dell, the brother of Dell computer founder Michael Dell, filed suit on Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court for custody of 11-month old Krishna Thea Lakshmi.
TMZ.com reported Wednesday that under an out-of-court agreement, Dell currently has visitation rights to see his daughter nine days a month. Sources say that agreement is in effect until Feb. 20, when Krishna turns 1.
Both Dell, 41, and Lakshmi, 40, were discussing a custody arrangement to take effect after their daughter’s birthday, but the negotiations recently fell apart, according to the report.
Dell’s lawyer, Bill Zabel, confirmed the filing to the New York Post and said in a statement: “Adam Dell, above all else, wants to have an active and substantial role in the upbringing of his daughter with Padma Lakshmi. Unfortunately, Ms. Lakshmi has severely limited his time with their daughter and has refused to negotiate a reasonable co-parenting agreement. Mr. Dell has tried his best to avoid going to court, but Ms. Lakshmi has given him no other choice at this time.”
Sources told the paper that Lakshmi and Dell’s agreement allows him to see his daughter for seven hours a week, but that it’s complicated by her filming and travel commitments.
Sources close to Dell also told the paper that he has to deal with his ex’s lawyers and assistant to arrange times to see his daughter. One source said, “Adam does not want to take the baby away from her. He hopes this will result in a reasonable co-parenting agreement.”
Dell is also said to be seeking to be named on Krishna’s birth certificate and have her take his surname along with Lakshmi’s, according to the report.
A rep for Lakshmi told the Post, “It appears to us that Mr. Dell remains more interested in garnering media attention than working out details to see Krishna or in her welfare.”
My Commentary: This is a typical story for co-parents who have separated with very young children. Mama is super protective over her young and makes an exaggerated claim that 2 days a year is a completely reasonable visitation arrangement and I understand why. As a mother to a 9 month old, I’m not so sure I would want to give liberal visitation to anyone, including his father and he’s my husband. Children who are that young heavily and primarily depend on mommy, especially if she is a loving, attentive mother who has bonded with her child. I’m not saying that dad isn’t important at all, but for all of you women who have given birth, I’m sure you understand what I am talking about. My husband is a very loving, attentive, detail-oriented father, BUT, for the first 5 months, our son blatantly preferred me. Dad didn’t hold him right, didn’t feed him right, didn’t sing his favorite lullably like mommy and just didn’t care for him like mommy did. My husband would get frustrated and say, “why doesn’t he like me?” He’s just now getting to the point when he’ll stay with him while I’m completely out of sight. This speaks nothing of my husband’s parenting skills; it’s just that kids are really dependent upon mommy for the first few years of their lives. So I totally get Padma’s perspective. However, dad’s relationship with baby Krishna is still vital at this time as this is the time when they should be forming their own bond. It’s a tough situation and I hope that Dell and Lakshmi can come to some sort of flexible agreement for Krishna’s sake. Children that young really need both of their parents and it usually means that both parents will play a vital role in each other’s lives as well. This example is the very reason that I recommend that couples refrain from starting new relationships with significant others until the child is a little older. It just makes it a lot less complicated.