Evan Rachel Wood's ex Jamie Bell reportedly gets primary custody of son: What we know so far
Evan Rachel Wood's ex Jamie Bell has reportedly been given primary custody of their son, according to court documents obtained by The Blast.
The Westworld actress, 35, has been involved in a custody dispute with the Billy Elliot actor, 37, over their 9-year-old son, Jack, for over two years. It began in December 2020 when Wood failed to transfer custody of the boy to his father for the holidays. Wood claimed it was because she feared for the child's safety.
Here's what we know...
The latest: On Thursday, The Blast reported that Wood and Bell, who were never officially married, agreed their son will reside in L.A. with the British actor. Both Wood and Bell were L.A.-based until 2020, when Wood relocated to her home in Nashville, Tenn., full-time. She told Bell, who was supposed to have the child for Christmas that year, that she felt unsafe returning to L.A. She said she was a witness in a high-profile criminal investigation and feared for the boy's safety as well as her own. In February 2021, Wood accused her ex-boyfriend, Marilyn Manson, of sexual assault and abuse during their past relationship, which spanned from mid-2006 to early 2011. (Manson denied Wood's abuse allegations.)
According to court docs obtained by the outlet, the former couple's son will "primarily live with [Bell] in Los Angeles," where he resides with his second wife and Fantastic Four co-star Kate Mara, whom he married in 2017, and their two young children (born in 2019 and 2022). "[Wood] shall have custody of Jack one (1) extended weekend per month from Friday, after school or 10:00 a.m." Wood will also have custody on some holidays and school breaks.
Reps for Wood and Bell have not yet responded to Yahoo's request for comment about the custody change.
Long-running dispute: Wood and Bell started dating in 2005 for about a year. They rekindled their romance in 2011, welcomed their son in 2013, but split in 2014. There are reports that they wed in 2012, but their court documents note they never married.
In 2016, Wood talked about co-parenting, saying it involved her and her ex putting aside their "issues."
The same year, Wood revealed she was the survivor of sexual assault, but did not initially reveal the identity of her abusers. In 2018, she testified in front of a House Judiciary Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., about surviving sexual assault. While it was three more years before she publicly accused Manson, she started getting threats immediately, which she claimed were from the singer's fans, and feared he might retaliate, according to an interview she gave the The Cut in 2022. Wood claimed she spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on security at her L.A. home, including installing bulletproof-glass windows, a steel door and a security fence, to keep her and her son safe. She owned a second home in Nashville and began spending more time there, thinking it would keep her child safer.
In December 2020, Wood apparently decided to permanently move to Nashville, but did so without Bell's permission. According to court documents, Bell said he was supposed to have Jack for Christmas that year, but Wood did not make the custody exchange nor did she return his calls or texts “for several days." The child remained out-of-state in Tennessee with Bell unaware of the child’s whereabouts. Bell said he finally found out where his son was via Wood’s assistant, claiming Wood “unilaterally decided to withhold Jack” from him.
When Bell did hear from Wood, he claimed in documents seen by Yahoo that she told him she was a material witness in a high-profile criminal investigation and feared for their safety. He claimed he was sent on a “wild goose chase” after being given a letter Wood said was from the FBI, which he questioned the authenticity of. He claimed when he finally spoke with law enforcement, he was told that whatever was happening with the criminal case wouldn’t change him having custody or access to their son.
Bell’s legal team wrote that Wood’s “story defies credibility. Either the criminal investigation truly is placing her in danger, in which case Jack should be in Jamie's care, not hers, or she has invented or exaggerated any potential danger and is withholding Jack from Jamie to satisfy her own whims. Both versions are alarming and suggest issues with Evan's judgment and ability to co-parent at this time.”
Wood admitted in her own filing that, "At one time I did conceal from Jamie our whereabouts." She said it was due to her accusations against Manson and agreement to testify against him. She claimed she was "very concerned about our child’s safety when in Los Angeles” after being informed by investigators that her family’s safety was at risk. She claimed Manson, who also lives in Los Angeles, threatened to abuse Jack. (Manson has denied ever threatening Wood or her family.)
In early 2021, Bell still hadn't seen his son. Wood suggested mediation, but he felt it was a “stalling” tactic and said she was “withholding our son from me for other reasons of her own invention." Bell accused his ex of causing "short- and long-term psychological harm" to the child by the "prolonged separation." The docs noted how the child child’s school, doctors and occupational therapist were all in L.A.
At the end of March 2021, Bell saw his son for the first time since December, in a neutral location. During the visit, Bell claimed, “Jack voiced his concern for his safety and reminded us repeatedly of the man who hurt his mom, and displayed emotional outbursts related to the case his mother is involved in. When I mentioned fun things to do in the future, Jack told me he could only do them ‘if Brian is in jail.’" (Brian Warner is Marilyn Manson’s real name.)
Bell said he was “absolutely appalled and terrified that Evan is feeding this information to our [son]... Evan previously made similar allegations of abuse against Marilyn Manson, which has been well documented in the press. Their relationship and alleged abuse took place many years ago. I fully support Evan and any victim of abuse. But any such abuse here is not new and does not involve me or our son.”
Bell said he "desperately" needed the court to "help to get Jack back home. For seven years I shared equal custody of Jack with his mother and now his mother has been keeping him from me... This is an absolute nightmare. It makes no sense to me. I am not trying to take Jack away from Evan. I just want to go back to the shared custody we had in Los Angeles."
In Wood's The Cut interview she said Bell had been one of "the least supportive" people in her life after she came forward against Manson. She also said "family court is one of the worst places to put a domestic-violence survivor."
Nonetheless, it was determined, apparently late last year, that Bell would get primary custody.
Wood v. Manson: Wood's battle with Manson goes on. In 2021, she officially accused the "Heart-Shaped Glasses" singer of grooming her as a teenager and abusing her for years. (They started dating when she was 19 and he was 39.) Wood detailed the allegations in the 2022 documentary Phoenix Rising. Manson has not been charged with any crime connected to her allegations.
Manson is suing Wood for defamation. In a ruling this month, the judge struck down his biggest claims. One of the claims stricken from Manson’s complaint is that Wood forged the FBI letter, referenced by Bell in the custody case, about a criminal investigation into Manson. Manson claimed the letter was forged "to create the false appearance that Warner’s alleged ‘victims’ and their families were in danger, and that there was a federal criminal investigation of Warner ongoing." His legal team said it was part of Wood's efforts to "pressure" other women to accuse Manson of abuse. Wood denied fabricating the letter. The judge did not rule on the letter's authenticity.
More than a dozen other women in total have come forward with abuse allegations against Manson. He denied all allegations of abuse. He was dropped by his record label and talent agency, but recently teased new music.
This story was originally published on Thursday, May 25.