One day after an L.A. judge rejected Paula Patton‘s request to limit ex-husband Robin Thicke‘s joint custody of their 6-year-old son, Julian, the dispute between the former couple is becoming increasingly fraught.
A representative for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Lost Hills station confirms to PEOPLE that law enforcement officials were dispatched to Patton’s Calabasas home Friday morning after Julian didn’t arrive at school. He had missed his visitation with Thicke the evening before. The representative referred to the incident as “a non-event” but said “it involved a child not wanting to go with someone.”
Court documents obtained by PEOPLE show that Patton texted Thicke to tell him she was picking up their son on Thursday, Jan. 5, despite it being Thicke’s custodial time. “Paula sent someone to school to intercept Julian, in violation of the custody orders,” Thicke’s lawyer, Angela Pierce di Donato, tells PEOPLE, adding that “she did not return him to school today.”
Thicke’s lawyer says the singer is concerned about Julian’s well-being. “Julian only shows any evidence of emotional harm when questioned by Paula or in her presence,” says Pierce di Donato.
Counters a source familiar with the situation, “Julian has made it clear he does not feel safe in his father’s presence, a fact confirmed today by the Malibu Sheriff’s Department determination — with Mr. Thicke present — that the child needed to remain with his mother.”
The pair’s divorce was officially granted last March after a yearlong separation. In legal documents filed Thursday, the actress accuses Thicke of physically abusing Julian — which the “Blurred Lines” singer adamantly denies.
According to the documents — which include declarations from each parent, Julian’s nanny, school principal and counselor — Patton says she’s “become concerned about [Robin]’s drinking and drug use, as well as the forms of punishment he is using to discipline Julian” over the past year — specifically, spankings that Patton believes were too hard and made Julian “scared” of his dad.
A school counselor also states in court papers that Julian told her in November that his father “punches him so hard, but never where someone can see.” She and the school principal decided to meet with Patton and then to call L.A.’s Department of Children and Family Services on Jan. 4. Pierce di Donato maintains the meeting between Patton, Julian and school officials was poorly handled. “The school improperly allowed Paula to sit in the room while Julian was questioned,” she tells PEOPLE. “He was described as crying, hyperventilating and clinging to his mother.”
The source close to the situation responds: “It is well-documented in court declarations, not only by the mother, but by two school officials as well as the child’s nanny, that there are allegations of abusive behavior by Mr. Thicke. To be clear, it was concern by school officials, not Ms. Patton, that led DCFS to initiate their ongoing investigation into allegations of abuse by the father. Despite Mr. Thicke’s intent to smear her as a mother, Ms. Patton must do everything in her power to protect her son.”
In his declaration, Thicke said he had “never exceeded age-appropriate discipline” with Julian and only spanked him “lightly” as a “last resort,” and he says he and Patton had agreed to that type of discipline. He says he has not had physical contact with Julian since Dec. 31, and that after Julian’s first day back at school on Jan. 3, Patton refused to let father and son FaceTime in private.
Pierce di Donato categorically denies the abuse allegations, claiming that Patton’s accusations stem from resentment over being barred from her former father-in-law Alan Thicke’s memorial in December.
“We believe that Paula was angry that she was excluded from Alan’s funeral last month,” Pierce di Donato says. “A week later she refused to allow Julian to open presents with Robin on Christmas morning. Days later, a referral was called into the child abuse hotline.”
According to Pierce di Donato, Patton had repeatedly asked Julian about any inappropriate forms of physical punishment inflicted by his father.
“Paula’s own declaration submitted to court yesterday shows that she has been routinely questioning Julian for nearly three months about his dad ‘abusing’ him,” says Pierce di Donato. “She even questioned him the day before Julian told his school.”
Thicke was interviewed by the Department of Children and Family Services on Thursday afternoon.
“The Department of Children and Family Services has extensively interviewed the family, including Julian. They put no restrictions on Robin’s custody and advised Paula to follow the court orders,” Pierce di Donato says. “Julian was interviewed by a forensic interviewer at the request of the Sheriff Department. When interviewed by both agencies outside of Paula’s presence Julian was not tearful, emotional and expressed love for his father.” (DCFS declined to comment on the case, citing privacy rules.)
Pierce di Donato alleges that Patton requested the emergency hearing on Thursday because she was “unhappy.” Patton asked for Thicke’s time with Julian to be supervised, and not to include overnight visits. A judge denied the requests.
- With reporting by MELODY CHIU, MARY GREEN and SARAH MICHAUD