Given Charlie Sheen's arrest and reports about child protective services stepping in, could he lose his kids? Or is he getting the shaft from child services because he is famous like Britney Spears?
—Shelley, Haverford, Pa., via the Answer B!tch inbox
Well, here's what we know: Sheen was arrested in Colorado on Christmas after allegedly attacking wife Brooke Mueller and threatening to kill her with a knife. Mueller has since said through her lawyer that she wants to reconcile with Sheen, though they're currently being kept apart by a restraining order.
So what might happen to their twin 9-month-old sons? Well...
According to reports, Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services has inserted itself into the case. If that's so, it's not clear whether Colorado authorities tipped off DCFS or if DCFS just happens to read E! Online, which, you know, it totally does.
Either way, it doesn't matter.
In fact, it doesn't even matter what happens next in Colorado, lawyers and judges tell me. Sheen's criminal charges (of second-degree assault, menacing and criminal mischief, to be precise) could be totally dropped by authorities in that state, but if DCFS doesn't like what it sees here in California, Sheen and Mueller may have months of investigation in front of them.
It's not likely, family law experts tell me, but it could happen. If for any reason DCFS thinks the kids are in danger staying with Sheen and Mueller, they could file a complaint with local family courts, requesting some sort of imposed change, like supervised visits or a new residence for the babies.
Or, more likely, the investigators would keep things private. They would simply recommend that the children be temporarily moved to a family member's home until things are investigated and resolved more thoroughly—without involving a judge or public papers.
"As long as the social workers are satisfied, they don't necessarily need to go to court," veteran family court judge Eugene Hyman tells me. "A large percentage of [DCFS] cases that are investigated are never filed with a court; they are resolved with informal, private agreements" to relocate children or to arrange for supervised visitation for a while. Such a scenario is particularly likely given the family's celebrity status, Hyman says.
And what about that celebrity status? Is Sheen's laugh-track-studded career coming back to haunt him? Probably, attorney Lauren Meinhardt from the firm Nachshin & Langlois tells me. Britney Spears was investigated for months by DCFS during her custody battle with ex Kevin Federline—something that, given the fact that Britney employs an army of nannies, was probably at least partially motivated by her fame, Meinhardt suggests.
"They are going to make an investigation out of this because Sheen is a celebrity," Meinhardt tells me. "But I don't think the kids are in danger here."
Most likely, I am told, this will simply die down in a few weeks and things will return to normal—assuming Sheen or Mueller doesn't get in trouble with the law again. Mueller herself also has a little bit of an arrest record.
As for Sheen, he is due to appear in court on Feb. 8.
Not caught up on all Charlie's drama? Get the latest here!