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The Daily Dish The Real Housewives of New York City

Can You Have a "Zero Contact" Solution With Your Ex If You Share Kids?

A divorce lawyer tells us that's very, very hard when you share a child together. 

By Marianne Garvey

It’s clear the stress from her custody battle is hurting Bethenny Frankel. In this week’s episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, the Skinnygirl founder said during the trip to Colombia that the restraining order against her ex was up soon, and she was in a panic about what that would mean for her.

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“The restraining order’s up in a month,” she told Dorinda Medley. “I just got the custody papers to do the custody battle. I’m panicked about the restraining order being up. I’m just panicked…I’m trying to raise my daughter. I’m dealing with a despicable custody situation. There’s so much going on, I can’t even explain. I’m going to explode. I don’t have time for any bulls—t.”

She later had a panic attack due to all the stress (and the continuing tension with Carole Radziwill.)


“I don’t think I can go. I don’t think I can,” she said, crying. “I’m under so much stress. I’m having a panic attack…I’m just scared. I don’t want to go back to the life I had. I don’t want to be tortured.”

Anyone who’s followed RHONY knows the situation. During the Season 9 reunion last summer, Bethenny admitted that the “torment and torture” she’s gone through since their split has taken its toll.

The only thing that would ease some of her pain would be to have a “zero contact” solution, she said.

“Any resolution is legally mandated, and I’m fine with that,” she said. “I don’t care what happens, I have faith that somehow I will be able to live a normal free life. But it has to be with zero contact. Because with any contact, this will not end.”

When a restraining order is or could be lifted, what does that mean for someone in a situation like Bethenny's?

According to divorce attorney Peter Walzer, founding partner of family law firm Walzer Melcher, it’s very hard when you have a kid together to have absolute zero contact.

He explains:

“The context is basically it started with OJ [Simpson] and the California court where Nicole {Brown Simpson] comes in and says ‘my husband is threatening me’ and the judge refused to issue a domestic violence restraining order. That started a whole domestic cause for good reason nationwide. Every family court has a domestic violence calendar now, whether that means someone was seriously injured or not. At a certain level of practice you can see domestic violence includes stalking, threatening, invading their computers, taking their passwords, etc. And because we take domestic violence seriously, it is a factor in every custody case, a court must consider it in every custody order.”

The court issues restraining orders for certain periods of time.

“There are renewal orders on these too. She probably wants a renewal,” Walzer says. “It’s expiring, so she can’t argue she has this anymore. To her credit, any time someone is sending hundreds of emails and phone calls, that is harassment. Since then, maybe he’s changed his tactics, maybe his lawyer has advised him, ‘you can’t do this anymore.’ So the question becomes should this still be a renewal in the custody case?”

If the restraining order is/was lifted, there are no stay away orders, Walzer explains.

“If it’s lifted, there are no stay away orders. If it’s lifted, he could contact her, But if he re-does what he did, the penalties get even stiffer,” he says. “I advise my clients stay absolutely far away and have a witness with you when you are together. The stakes are high. It can be a factor in child support and custody decisions.”

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