Actress Uma Thurman and her baby daddy Arpad Busson have a truce - and probably a deal - on custody and financial issues to resolve their two year battle over how and where to raise their four year old daughter, a Manhattan judge announced late Monday.
“My understanding is that we made a huge amount of progress and 98% of everything has been resolved," Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper said after meeting privately for hours with the parents and their attorneys.
The marathon mediation came after five day trial where where Busson, a French financier, accused Thurman of being unreasonable and controlling while Thurman insisted Luna's father was inconsistent in his attentions to their daughter, Luna, who was born in 2012 during a multi year rocky relationship that included a brief engagement.
Luna has been living in New York with her mother and Thurman's two children from actor Ethan Hawke. Busson has homes in London and the Bahamas and his interest in having Luna spend time with him there has been a constant point of friction.
Thurman takes the stand in child custody fight
The judge had planned to have lawyers on each side -- and the child's court appointed legal guardian -- make closing arguments Monday but decided to try a mediation first, noting it would be better if the two who "know, care for and love" Luna most can craft a compromise.
"Mr. Busson, you made a lot of compromises and Ms. Thurman you made a lot of compromises," Cooper told them late in the day.
The judge said the lawyers would meet privately again tomorrow to nail down the details involving custody, access and financial issues. If they can agree on the language of a settlement, Cooper said, it will be "all done. You won't ever have to come back and see me. Everything will be taken care of."
The judge said he would probably have the parents return to court once more to "allocute" the arrangements and affirm that they agree to the deal.
If the lawyers get stuck on any details, he said, he would have to "come up with a game plan from there."
Asked to comment as she left Manhattan Supreme Court late Monday afternoon, Thurman smiled broadly and said: "I think I have to collect my thoughts but it's all good!"
Then she bent over to give a bear hug to one of her lawyers, Eleanor Alter, exclaiming "thank you, thank you, thank you!" as she kissed both of Alter's cheeks.
Busson also looked relieved on leaving, saying he would have something to say "when it's all over." His lawyer, Peter Bronstein, was beaming.
Cooper said earlier Monday that he was trying one last stab at mediation because he thought it best that the parents who "know, care for and love" Luna reach their own accord rather than have him impose one on them.
Busson testified last week that he asked the court for custody of Luna because he wanted to be more involved in her upbringing, participating in decisions about what schools she attends and any medical decisions. He also said he thought it important that she be raised a Catholic.
He took the stand briefly Monday to rebut some of Thurman's testimony and was asked by Luna's law guardian, Virginia Lopreto, if he was aware that Luna - if she were baptized a Catholic - would have to go to Mass every Sunday or she would be committing a sin.
Busson said he did not think that rule applied in France and England.
"My boys did not go to Mass each Sunday and they did have First Communion," he said, referring to his older sons by the model Elle Macpherson.
When Lopreto asked if he knew that children had to be free from sin to be confirmed in the Catholic Church, Busson noted "If you have so many sins, we also have this thing called confession.”
Thurman, whose father was the first American to be ordained a Buddist monk in the Tibeten tradition, said last week she wasn't sure what was involved in raising a Catholic child.
The judge asked Busson Monday if he would expect Thurman to take Luna to Mass every Sunday that Busson was abroad. Busson said he would not.
"I'm sure the Lord would understand there are different circumstances than if this were a perfect environment," Busson replied.
"Are you serious?" Lopreto muttered. "Is that the extent of what you believe a religious upbringing (to be)?"
"No," Busson replied. "It's a way of life."
"A way of life you don't follow," she said, referring to Busson's three children outside of marriage and his alleged comments to Thurman that he was "addicted" to prostitutes - a statement he denied.
"Yes, but I'm already baptized and had my first communion," he said with a laugh.Send a Letter to the Editor