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Old 05-13-07, 12:30 PM
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Bobby Brown Uses Prerogative to Sue for Custody

by Natalie Finn
Fri, 11 May 2007 04:21:48 PM PDT

If Alec Baldwin ever pens that book about the legal perils of being a divorced dad, he just acquired his first celebrity reader.

Bobby Brown filed a lawsuit against Whitney Houston last month asking a judge to set aside the custody arrangement handed down when the ex-couple's divorce was finalized. The duo have a 14-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

An Orange County judge granted sole legal and physical custody to Houston after she requested an expedited split and Brown failed to respond by the court-appointed deadline.

It turns out, according to court documents filed Apr. 26 in Orange County Superior Court and obtained by E! News, that the R&B singer was financially and emotionally unable to take action back in December when Houston moved to speed things up a little, and that he thought his estranged wife understood what he was going through.

"When we discussed my need to respond to the petition, Whitney specifically told me, 'Don't worry about it,'" and told him that he had at least six months to deal with it, Brown stated. The Bodyguard star told him the same thing on several other occasions between September 2006 and January 2007, at one point reassuring him that she would have her lawyers "back off."

"It was no secret that I (as well as Whitney) had financial commitments which we could not meet," the suit reads, referring to his widely publicized problem paying off thousands of dollars in late child support to a former girlfriend and Houston's inability to pay off the back taxes and mortgage on two separate pieces of property, including the Atlanta mansion featured in Being Bobby Brown, both of which were eventually auctioned off.

"Additionally, after Whitney and I had separated, I had no where to go and very little money to live on. I was, for all intents and purposes, homeless," Brown continued. "My marriage had fallen apart, I was without a home, I had no money, and I was experiencing legal problems associated with my child support obligations. It is no wonder that by the end of 2006 I had become distraught and depressed."

All in all, Brown says, his mental state and supposedly dire financial straits (he claims that he couldn't afford a plane ticket to Boston to appear at a contempt hearing on the delinquent child support, and he ended up sitting in jail for four days) left him incapable of fighting for custody of Bobbi Kristina, who is now living in the O.C. with her mom.

Brown wasn't in court when his marriage officially went kaput last month, but he says in his suit that he did show up for a Mar. 23 hearing, only to find out upon arrival that it had been postponed until Apr. 4.

When he could finally afford to hire an attorney, Brown states, his petition was rejected on Apr. 4 because the default judgment—favoring Houston—had already been entered.

Now Brown is seeking joint custody, as well as child support and spousal support from his Grammy-winning ex, stating that he doesn't believe Houston ever produced a copy of their prenuptial agreement (which precludes such payments), and that he doesn't have one, either.

"I believe that I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter Bobbi Kris—a relationship that I would like to see strengthen and grow…I love Bobbi Kris dearly and want to spend as much time with her as possible," Brown said.

After 14 years of marriage, Houston filed for a legal separation in September 2006 and divorce the following month, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. Said differences included a trial separation, drug addiction, alleged infidelity and an arrest on suspicion of domestic abuse.

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