Heard Sandra Bullock is going to court to get partial custody of stepdaughter Sunny. What are her chances?
—Marignygirl, via Twitter
Reports are all over the place on what exactly is going on at Casa de Bullock. Camp Sandy is insisting the Oscar winner isn't seeking a divorce—yet. But as for the kids, Bullock has said she has a very tight bond with Sunny, the 6-year-old daughter of Jesse James and his porn-star ex, Janine Lindemulder.
Attorneys tell me that if Bullock wanted to divorce James after all and seek more formal custody of Sunny, or just court-approved visitations, it would be...
Let's talk visitation first.
"Bullock would have an uphill climb if she were to seek visitation," Santa Monica-based family lawyer David Pisarra, of the company Pisarra and Grist, says.
Bullock would need to prove "that if she isn't allowed visitation, it would be a detriment to Sunny's well-being. The problem is that judges make their decisions on cases like these by using very exacting standards, which can be difficult to prove."
As for custody, that would involve quite a bit of mudslinging, particularly at Lindemulder or James. Bullock would have to prove that Sunny's biological parents are unfit, and that she would be a better option for the little girl.
"Bullock has earned the reputation of being an all-around 'nice' person, and she may not have it in her to go after someone in the kind of ways that might be necessary to gain custody," Pisarra says.
Another factor: Lindemulder.
Since the news broke about James and alleged mistress Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, Lindemulder has reportedly decided to seek more time with Sunny, and possibly more custodial rights.
"A new wrinkle has been added, as the courts tend to side with the biological mother," Pisarra says. "Of course, judges take a myriad of factors in to consideration, such as drug abuse, poor mothering or if, by giving the biological mother custody, the child would be endangered. If this does go to the courts, we can anticipate a lot of dirty laundry being aired."
One last, very distant, possibility: Adoption.
It isn't likely that Lindemulder would take that lying down, but if Bullock managed to pull it off, her chances of custody would obviously be much higher.
"If that is a possibility, she should do that first, and then consider a divorce," attorney Maya Shulman of the firm Adelman & Seide tells me. "An adoptive parent assumes all rights and responsibilities for an adopted child as does the biological parent—custody, child support, etc."
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