The divorcing couple square off over arrangements for their daughter and unborn child

By People Staff
Updated April 07, 2005 12:00 PM

In the six weeks since Denise Richards filed for divorce from husband Charlie Sheen, the two have walked a fine line between civility and standoff – but with a custody battle looming and allegations that Sheen has fallen back into his old vices (he denies it), that line may soon be crossed.

In her recent divorce filing, Richards, 34, took the unusual step of requesting sole legal custody of Sam and the couple’s unborn child (Sheen requested joint custody). The move, if successful, would mean that Sheen, 39, can no longer make decisions about the health and welfare of his children – though he could have visitation.

“She’d have to prove it’s in the best interest of the children,” lawyer Lynn Soodik tells PEOPLE, “and that either he refuses to communicate with her regarding decisions about the children or that his judgment is impaired.”

A rep for Richards has no comment, but Soodik says she may have an advantage in the short run. If Richards breast-feeds when she delivers in June, it will be difficult for Sheen to spend extended periods of time with the baby – or with Sam, since a judge may be reluctant to separate the siblings.

But despite the legalities, a friend of Richards’s says that “Denise expects Charlie to be a part of their children’s lives. She’s not looking to cut ties with him as a father.”

As for how the pair are each dealing with the end of their marriage, a source tells PEOPLE that Richards is “getting a lot of support from her family.”

Meanwhile, Sheen “loves his wife and daughter more than anything,” says a friend. “He’s devastated.”