"There's a lot that the kids don't know about their dad, and I want to keep it that way," Denise Richards says about ex-husband Charlie Sheen

Although Denise Richards and ex-husband Charlie Sheen are in the middle of an ongoing child support battle, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star doesn’t want their disagreements to negatively impact the relationship he has with their daughters.

On Wednesday night’s episode of the Bravo reality series, Denise opened up about her problems with Charlie, with whom she shares daughters Sami, 16, and Lola, 14. (She is also mom to daughter Eloise, 8, whom she adopted in 2011.)

Denise, 49, returned from New York City, where she attended and walked in Kyle Richards’ New York Fashion Week show along with her fellow Housewives. Back home, she updated husband Aaron Phypers about her trip, during which she learned that Charlie, 54, had responded publicly to her allegations that he owed $450,000 in child support.

“So, in New York, Charlie said something publicly about the document that I was court-ordered to file,” Denise told Aaron.

Referencing Charlie’s statement, in which he called his ex a “coward,” Denise asked Aaron, “A coward for what?”

“I had to file something for his filing,” she told Aaron, who added, “He filed and you had to like file an answer because he filed.”

In August 2018, the actor filed requests to modify his child support payments to Denise and third ex-wife Brooke Mueller, claiming he couldn’t afford to make his monthly payments because he’s “been unable to find steady work, and [has] been blacklisted from many aspects of the entertainment industry.” A little over a year later, Denise filed an income and expense declaration regarding his request, alleging that Charlie owed her $450,000 in child support. She claimed that Charlie “squandered over $24,000,000 from the sale in his interest in Two and a Half Men to pay his personal debts and to support his extravagant lifestyle at the expense of support payments for his children. During the time frame since our last stipulation/order in 2016 he has failed to pay $450,000 in support while diverting over $600,000 in assets to adult family members and converting thousands of dollars into cash for his own personal use.”

Denise Richards Charlie Sheen daughters
Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen with daughters Lola (left) and Sami (right)

At the time, Charlie and Denise’s reps did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment, though Charlie issued a statement to The Blast saying his “day in court is painfully overdue” and “the truth will prevail.”

In a confessional on RHOBH, Denise said, “I’m not going after child support. I did not file saying he hasn’t paid me. I wasn’t going to say a word. He’s the one that filed saying he didn’t want to pay me at all, even though he hasn’t paid me for quite some time now.”

Despite her hope to avoid court, Denise told Aaron, “So now I have a hearing set for November. But, I do not want to go through all of that. I just don’t. ‘Cause it’s not just a one-time thing where you just show up to court. It’s like an ongoing thing where you can have depositions, declarations from different people. And that’s something, you know, the girls are going to be able to hear.”

“I know you want to protect them,” said Aaron, 47.

“If he doesn’t want to pay child support, that’s on him. But it would be nice to not say anything negative about me with the kids that hear about it,” she told her husband.

Denise and Charlie first met while shooting the movie Good Advice in 2000, but it wasn’t until the actress guest-starred on Charlie’s former sitcom Spin City in the fall of 2001 that a romance began to blossom. They married in June 2002. But by March 2005, it was over, with Denise filing for divorce while Charlie was in the midst of a drug and alcohol relapse.

When Denise left Charlie, she was six months pregnant with daughter Lola.

Denise Richards Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen with daughter Lola
| Credit: Charlie Sheen/Instagram

Last season on RHOBH, Denise said that she did not take half of Charlie’s money during the divorce, despite not having a prenuptial agreement. “Charlie and I didn’t have a prenup when we got married and when we got divorced, I could have asked for half of what he made,” Denise said in a confessional during the season. “And I did not, because I ain’t a greedy f—— whore.”

In a confessional on Wednesday’s episode, Denise admitted, “There’s a lot that the kids don’t know about their dad and I want to keep it that way.”

But in spite of the ongoing drama that Denise has experienced with Charlie, she’s chosen to not engage in negative commentary about the father of her two eldest daughters.

Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen
Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen
| Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

“Even though he’s Charlie Sheen, that is still to them their dad,” she continued. “I never talk badly about him and I want him to be part of their lives because I met a lot of the women that Charlie entertained and a lot of them had father-daughter issues. And I do not want that to be our girls.”

Also during the episode, Denise underwent surgery to have hernias removed after experiencing pain for at least a year.

Ahead of her procedure, while driving with Aaron to the operation, Denise expressed her fears about going under the knife.

“I don’t know why I’m so nervous going under. Obviously I was put under having my implants put in years ago, but being put under after having kids, I feel weird about it,” she told her husband. “God forbid something happens. I don’t want to leave them. I’m not ready.”

“S— does happen. I mean, there are f—ing mistakes,” she said. “I just don’t want to be a mistake today.”

“I think at this point where they are in their life, they still need their mom. And, you know, these are very tender ages and they’re influenced by so many different things,” Denise said in a confessional. “I want to make sure my kids are safe and that they’ll make good choices.”

Denise Richards
Denise Richards with her father and youngest daughter, Eloise
| Credit: Denise Richards/Instagram

Following the surgery, Denise and Aaron stayed in a hotel, where she talked to daughter Sami on the phone.

“Everything went really good,” Denise told Sami. “They had to do a double hernia.”

“Why?” asked Sami.

“Because it was on the other side too,” the RHOBH star explained. “The surgery was longer and they had to give me more stuff.”

“Probably the best sleep of your life you’re ever going to get,” Sami told her mom.

“Thank you,” Denise said with a laugh. “And you’re going to Dad’s?”

“I’m already at Dad’s,” Sami said about staying with Charlie. “We watched Lola’s volleyball game.”

Wrapping their call, Sami said, “I’m glad the surgery went well.”

“Thanks honey. I love you,” said Denise.

“I love you too. Goodnight,” said Sami.

Later, while reflecting on the procedure, Denise admitted that “my surgery was much more invasive than I thought. It was six hours — not an hour to an hour-and-a-half.”

“I had four hernias, not one,” she explained.

Denise Richards
Aaron Phypers and Denise Richards
| Credit: Denise Richards/Instagram

Aaron cared for her throughout her recovery, and Denise admitted that learning to receive and accept her husband’s acts of service has “been an adjustment.”

“My mom raised my sister and I: never depend on a man. It’s been an adjustment having my husband want to take care of me because I’m so used to taking care of everyone else,” Denise said in a confessional.

“Thank God I have a man that truly loves me, loves my kids and has my back,” she said about Aaron, who she wed in September 2018. “And, he still has that big d—.”

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.