It's the cover story in the new issue. From the mag's announcement: Halle Berry pulls out of her next movie – which she was set to start shooting in New York within the week – as a nasty custody battle heats up with ex Gabriel Aubry over their 2 ½ year-old daughter Nahla. In a bluntly worded statement to PEOPLE from Berry’s rep, the Oscar-winning actress, 44, took direct aim at Aubry, 35: “Halle has serious concerns for her daughter’s well-being while in the care of her father for any extended period of time and is prepared to take all necessary steps to protect her.” Berry, her rep stated, has attempted to resolve custody issues with Aubry “amicably…but given his lack of cooperation, Halle has no choice but to seek swift judicial intervention.”
Aubry’s agent and lawyers didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, but friends of the French-Canadian model expressed shock at Berry’s allegation that Nahla would need protection from her father. “He is honestly the best dad ever,” says one Aubry source. “I never saw someone more dedicated to their child.’
How could things between the impossibly good-looking couple get so ugly so fast? Friends cite their post-split romances as a source of tension. When Aubry briefly stepped out with reality star Kim Kardashian, 30, last fall, “Halle was very upset,” says a source close to Berry. “She did not want a reality star in Nahla’s life. She was very aggravated.” Meanwhile, Berry’s romance with French actor Olivier Martinez, 45, whom she began dating last summer, has also sparked friction. . . .
Continues after the jump.
Aubry, who was living in Berry’s Beverly Hills home as recently as eptember, “liked their arrangement before Olivier came into the picture,” says a source. “Nahla was their focus, and they worked together. All of a sudden, things became a lot more complicated.” Regarding Aubry, a Berry source tells PEOPLE, “Halle got tired of footing the bill and was sick of him having no ambition.” A source close to Aubry says when the pair split, “from the beginning, Halle kind of had the upper hand because she was essentially supporting all of them for the most part.”
The exes, who split last April after four years of dating, were for a while so friendly that Aubry traveled with Berry and Nahla to South Africa last summer while she filmed the thriller Dark Tide. But in recent weeks, a rift widened – and on Dec. 30th, Aubry filed court papers seeking to be formally recognized as Nahla’s father and to secure joint legal and physical custody of their daughter. According to a source, the move upset Berry, who had had an informal custody-sharing arrangement with Aubry. “The only reason Gabriel is seeing Nahla right now is because the court hasn’t made a decision yet,” says a source close to Berry. “If it were up to Halle, he wouldn’t be seeing her at all without some sort of supervision.”
Now the mud-slinging is getting intense. “Once they broke up, he became verbally threatening to Halle,” says Aubry’s former friend and business partner Stephane Bibeau, a New York restaurateur who remains close with Berry. Bibeau and other sources close to Berry claim that Aubry used a racial slur against her. “That’s just unacceptable,” a source close to the actress tells PEOPLE. “He doesn’t realize the strength of his words,” adds Bibeau. “He’s a vindictive guy.”
People close to Aubry say Berry is the one with anger problems. “She would call screaming on his phone,” says a source who spent time with Aubry recently. “Halle likes to be in control and wants to make all the big decisions regarding Nahla without having to ask Gabriel,” adds a Martinez pal. “She even went on preschool interviews without consulting Gabriel. They have no contact, and Halle complains and asks Olivier for advice every day.”
Now as the custody war rages, each side is claiming to have Nahla’s best interests at heart. “Anything he could do for that little girl he did and still does,” says an Aubry source. As for Berry, says a friend, “she’s a watchdog with Nahla. She sees motherhood as why she was put on this earth.”