Family Law Corner: Ludacris' Ludicrous Custody Battle

For the past year Christopher Bridges, better known as Ludacris, has been in a bitter custody battle with “baby mama” Tamika Fuller. Ludacris filed to establish his paternity and limit child support for the pair’s now fifteen month old daughter last February, and it finally ended after a trial in January 2015.

According to TMZ, the trial turned ugly with Fuller accusing Ludacris of trying to bribe her into having an abortion by offering $10,000 and a house. She also accused Ludacris of seeking more custodial time just to get out of paying the $7,000 per month in child support he currently pays.  Following his quickie marriage in December 2014 (he reportedly proposed and got married in one day), Fuller alleged his marriage was to ensure he appeared more stable to the parties’ Georgia judge during the trial.

At the conclusion of the trial, the judge ordered joint legal and physical custody but said Ludacris will be “the primary physical custodian” and that Ludacris has decision-making authority. Other sites have stated that Fuller will only have the parties’ child eleven days each month. ( & Bossip)

Ludacris and Fuller’s case was decided in Georgia where the definition of joint legal custody is substantially similar to California’s definition. In California, Family Code §3003 defines “joint legal custody” as “shar[ing] the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child.” If the judge stated that Ludacris would have decision-making authority, this would be contrary to the order of joint legal custody.

The Georgia judge also appeared to order primary physical custody to Ludacris. In California, “primary physical custody” is a term without legal meaning. (See In re Marriage of LaMusga (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1072, In re Marriage of Biallas (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 755, 759-760; In re Marriage of Rose & Richardson (2002) 102 Cal.App.4th 941, 945, fn. 2). However, it is helpful in understanding what the parties’ custodial timeshare may look like since “joint physical custody” can mean many different custodial arrangements. Under Family Code §3004, “joint physical custody” means “each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody” which is vague. In contrast, “primary” implies one parent has more time with the child.

According to Bossip, who claim to have had a source in the courtroom, Fuller’s instability versus Ludacris’ stability was the deciding factor for the judge, so it looks like his quickie nuptials may have helped after all.