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Hayden Panettiere Was Unaware She'd Lose Custody Of Daughter -- Until She Was Already In Ukraine With Her Ex!

Hayden Panettiere Was Unaware Of Custody Agreement With Ex-Husband Until Daughter Was Already In Ukraine!

This is gut-wrenching…

Hayden Panettiere is opening up her decision to give her husband, Wladimir Klitschko, full custody of their daughter Kaya — and it turns out it wasn’t much of her decision at all!

The actress sat down for a very revealing chat with Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and guest host Kelly Osbourne on this week’s episode of Red Table Talk in which she dove into her past struggles with substance abuse and the impact it had on her child.

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As we’ve reported, before the Nashville star seriously sought help for her addictions, she made the heartbreaking decision to give full custody of her only child to her ex. But it turns out, it wasn’t her initial plan. The 33-year-old admitted:

“[Kaya] was almost 3 and it wasn’t fully my decision. In fact, I didn’t even know it was happening until she was already over there [in Ukraine].”

At this point, she and the professional boxer were used to trading time with Kaya, and so the Heroes alum didn’t think much of sending her to Ukraine in 2018 (Wladimir’s home country) for what she thought was a visit, she explained:

“I thought she was going over to visit him like she always did. [Kaya] would go back and forth from me in Nashville and Ukraine, and then once she was over there, it was immediately, ‘I want full custody of her,’ which was a shock to me.”

Adrienne then chimed in for clarification, asking:

“I thought this was an agreement that you came to that you felt it was best that your daughter be with her dad.”

We’ve definitely heard Hayden say something similar in the past, so we get the confusion! The actress explained that her plan was also to go work on herself, but she expected to have the same amount of contact with her daughter once she was healthier. Instead, something very different happened. She continued:

“I was gonna go work on myself and I was gonna get better, and when I got better that things could change and she could come to me and I could have my time with her. But that didn’t happen.”

She added:

“At first it was not [an agreement] because it wasn’t a discussion. If he had come to me and said, ‘I think because of where you’re at right now and the struggles that you’re having, it would be good for her to be over here with me for a while.’ If I had had enough of a conversation, [I] would’ve said, ‘OK, that makes sense, I get it, I’ll come there to visit and stuff like that.’ Because of the way that it was done, it was very upsetting.”

Whoa… While she ultimately did sign the custody papers, she says she didn’t feel like she had much of a choice given Wladimir’s power in the situation:

“It was very upsetting signing those papers to give him full custody. It was like the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever, ever had to do in my life. In a country where her uncle [Vitali Klitschko] is the mayor [of Kyiv] and they are icons over there, it’s a country where it’s very male-dominated. There wasn’t a heck of a lot I could do.”

Wow. So brutal.

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The shocking custody arrangement wasn’t just difficult for her to grasp — Hayden claims Kaya, now 7, also had a “trauma response” to the separation. Oh, no…

Elsewhere in the Facebook Watch chat, the Scream 4 lead revealed she once received a call from her ex sharing something Kaya had been saying, she recalled:

“[Kaya was] asking other women if she can call them Mommy.”


The singer said her “breath hitched” and “heart stopped” when the 46-year-old shared the detail with her. Worst of all, he didn’t seem to understand the severity of the request.

“He was laughing.”

Ugh. We’re sure he wouldn’t have found it funny if Kaya was asking about her father. Simply put, Hayden insisted he didn’t understand how the custody agreement was negatively impacting their daughter:

“He didn’t get it as … a trauma reaction. That’s a cry for help. I said immediately, ‘Can I talk to my daughter?’”

More concerning for the momma, when she did get on the phone with the little girl and questioned her about why she was asking to call other women her mother, the child “went into ‘goo goo gaga’ speak … talking gibberish,” she added:

“I never before, ever, heard her do that. It was a trauma that she was experiencing, me not being around.”

Aw, man. So tough — and all this was happening while Hayden was trying to work on herself too; it couldn’t have been easy. While Kaya has never returned to California, Hayden has traveled to Ukraine to visit with her and they maintain a close bond, though the actress hopes one day Wladimir will be open to reconsidering the custody agreement. We’re glad they are still connected despite these unfortunate circumstances. You can hear more from the vulnerable conversation (below).

Reactions, Perezcious readers?

[Image via Red Table Talk/Facebook & Wladimir Klitschko/Instagram]

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Sep 28, 2022 15:21pm PDT