August 9, 2013


Usher's Emergency Child Custody Battle Gets Ugly in Court

Getty Images, 2
Getty Images, 2

It's been a traumatic week for Usher and his family. On Monday, Usher's 5-year-old son Usher Raymond V almost drowned after getting his arm stuck in the family pool's drain. Thankfully, the boy was freed and is recovering in an Atlanta ICU.

But the family drama didn't end there. Less than 24 hours after the accident, the singer's ex-wife Tameka Foster filed for emergency custody of her two sons with Usher. And today in court, the two squared off amid a flurry of ugly accusations and tears.

During the defense's opening statement, Usher's lawyer argued the near-drowning was "an accident that could happen to anyone with parental supervision." He characterized the lawsuit as yet another attempt in an ongoing "effort to gain publicity and seek custody" of their sons, Usher Raymond V and Navid.

But Foster was livid, insistent that her son almost died in part because Usher's aunt Rena—who was watching her sons during the incident—is an unfit caregiver with no control over her children.

"My son was… sucked into a drain that did not have a drain cover. He was with a caregiver who does not swim, who clearly did not have CPR training," Foster said about Rena. Both claims were immediately disputed. During Rena's testimony, she claimed to know CPR but admitted she'd never received official certification. And while Rena did acknowledge that the government considers her disabled due to a back injury, she said she's capable of swimming and frequently does as part of her physical therapy.

After the court played the 911 call, Foster called the scene "pure chaos" and broke down into tears. "Navid—who barely swims—jumped into the pool to save his brother," Foster said, sobbing. "That is chaos. That could have been a double drowning."

Arguing against the characterization of Rena as an unfit caregiver, Usher's defense pointed out that Rena has actually watched over the boys while they were under Foster's care as well. "If she's an unfit caregiver for Mr. Raymond, how is it she's a fit caregiver for [Tameka Foster]?" the lawyer asked.

When Usher took the stand, Foster's lawyer targeted him for placing them under the care of someone who doesn't have formal CPR training. She also grilled Usher for frequently failing to respond to his ex-wife's phone calls and emails with regard to their children. 

After nearly 20 minutes of leading questions and carefully worded answers, the judge impatiently interrupted the prosecution's questioning. "This in an emergency hearing," he said. "The fact that your client [Foster] does not get regular updates on [Usher's] schedule… certainly has no bearing on this emergency."

At the conclusion of the two-and-a-half hour hearing, the judge sided with Usher and dismissed the lawsuit. Although he advised Usher to "keep your former spouse informed about your whereabouts and who is taking care of the kids," he explained that it seemed unlikely a different caregiver could have handled the emergency any better than Rena had. He also said it was unreasonable to expect every caregiver of a child to have Red Cross CPR certification. 

On a more positive note, Usher said his son is expected to be released from the hospital this Sunday.