Inside Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy’s Tumultuous Custody Battle

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It’s been nearly a decade since fans followed Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy’s journey to the altar on Bethenny Getting Married?, but their relationship has continued to make headlines.

The Real Housewives of New York City star met the businessman in late 2008. After 11 months of dating, viewers watched Hoppy propose to Frankel during season 3 of the Bravo series. A then-pregnant Frankel married Hoppy in front of reality TV cameras in March 2010.

Two months later, the pair welcomed daughter Bryn in May 2010. Their happiness was short-lived, however. While fans rooted for their relationship on Bethenny Ever After, which ran for three seasons from 2010 to 2012, Frankel and Hoppy called it quits after less than three years of marriage.

“This was an extremely difficult decision that, as a woman and a mother, I have to accept as the best choice for our family,” Frankel said in a statement to Us Weekly at the time. “We have love and respect for one another and will continue to amicably co-parent our daughter who is, and will always remain, our first priority. This is an immensely painful and heartbreaking time for us.”

It did not take long for things to turn nasty between Frankel and Hoppy, who did not finalize their divorce until 2016.

While the exes reached a custody agreement after a tense trial in 2014, they found themselves back in court regarding Bryn in 2019 after the Skinnygirl CEO sued Hoppy for full custody. An emotional Frankel told the judge in March that the drama has a “dramatic effect” on her relationship with her daughter.

“Until something stops, you don’t realize how traumatic and damaging it is,” Frankel said through tears. “When that person is arrested, you’re sleeping better, you’re not stressed. You’re physically, more psychological healthy. You’re not a wreck all the time. It’s like you can have a slightly normal life and you’re more connected with Bryn because you’re not in a panic about what will happen with the emails.”

As of March 2019, Hoppy, for his part, is arguing for the exes’ to continue their existing joint custody agreement.

Scroll through for everything you need to know about Frankel and Hoppy’s custody battle:

Fighting Over Bryn

In May 2014, Frankel broke down in court and alleged that Hoppy taunted her in front of their daughter on several occasions.


“Jason said to me, ‘Get ready, we are going to war. It’s over. We’re done,'” she claimed on the stand at the time. “He would hold Bryn, and he would say, ‘You’re finished, you’re done. I’m going to ruin you.’” 


Frankel also alleged that Hoppy would try to turn Bryn against her. “He would say, ‘Mommy should be Ursula the witch. She’s a great witch,” she claimed. “You be the princess, I’ll be the prince, Mommy will be the witch.’”

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A Temporary Fix

After arguing in court over who would be a better parent, Frankel and Hoppy settled the custody part of their divorce case in June 2014. “My client is delighted that this custody dispute has been resolved; that his co-parenting status has been acknowledged; that the parties’ child will have the benefit of being raised by both parents; and most importantly, that his daughter will no longer be at the mercy of a high-profile courtroom battle,” Hoppy’s lawyer said in a statement to Us at the time.

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Case Closed?

The twosome finalized their divorce in July 2016 after nearly four years of contentious negotiations. While the details of their divorce agreement were not made public, Frankel broke down during RHONY season 9 when she was finally able to sell the Tribeca apartment she purchased for the then-couple. (Hoppy continued to live there until June 2016, while Frankel hopped around between hotels and other temporary living situations.)

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More Drama

Hoppy was arrested in January 2017 after he allegedly threatened Frankel during an unplanned visit to Bryn’s school. An NYPD spokesperson told Us at the time that the businessman contacted his ex “numerous times via email and FaceTime, and approached the victim making verbal threats.” Hoppy was issued a six-month stay away order that October, instructing him not to contact Frankel in any capacity, whether it be by phone, email or through a third party.

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Back to Court

Nearly a year after Hoppy’s arrest, Frankel sued Hoppy for full custody of their then 7-year-old daughter.

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The Dennis Factor

Hoppy’s lawyer Robert Wallack told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Katz in August 2018 that his client had “serious concerns” about Frankel’s “parental judgement” after her on-off boyfriend Dennis Shields was found dead of an alleged drug overdose. “It was reported that he died of an Oxycodone overdose,” Wallack said in court. “Our concern is while his death is very sad, this raises serious concerns about Ms. Frankel’s parental judgment.”


“Dennis Shields spent a great deal of time with Bryn and even cared for Bryn at times when Ms. Frankel wasn’t around,” Wallack continued. “Considering Mr. Shields’ addiction, what does that say about Ms. Frankel’s parenting that she would allow this person to care for her daughter? This doesn’t just constitute a lapse in judgment, this was just downright dangerous parenting.”


While Shields’ official cause of death was never confirmed, Frankel revealed during a season 11 episode of RHONY that Bryn was very close to the late banker. 


“The Bryn element was another sucker punch,” Frankel said during the March 2019 episode. “She said, ‘Mommy, does Dennis still have a phone number?’ So I said, ‘Yeah.’ … So she goes, ‘I want to text him.’”

Raymond Hall/FilmMagic

Fighting for Full Custody

Frankel and Hoppy’s trial for full custody of Bryn began in March 2019. “Why are we doing this? To protect the child,” Frankel’s lawyer told the court on March 4. “The father’s behavior before and after their marriage is extremely harmful to Bryn. His abusive behavior towards her not only damages her relationship with her mother, but to everyone else in her life.”


Hoppy’s lawyer, however, argued that his client wants to move forward with the existing joint custody agreement and claimed Hoppy has been remorseful for his past actions. “While Bethenny seems intent on making this trial about her and Jason, and about the alleged issues between the two, this court must instead be guided by what is best for this child,” Hoppy’s lawyer said. “And the evidence will show that Bryn is happy, healthy, smart and well-adjusted.”

Charles Sykes/Bravo

Emotions Running High

Frankel compared living with Hoppy to being in a “torture chamber” in court in March 2019. “The conflict was day in and day out torture. Emotional, mental, phone, FaceTime, being followed, being harassed, being verbally attacked and all-out assault in every possible way — on my character, on my mental state, on my family, on my parenting, on my career, on my life,” she said in the Manhattan courthouse. 


The Bravo star, who got visibly emotional in court, also explained that she previously agreed to joint custody of Bryn because the exes “had been in war and I wanted to stop the bleeding.”


“I had a padlock on my door to protect myself,” she stated. “I pleaded and begged and emailed and said by phone and FaceTime to please stop harassing me and abusing me. And [he] didn’t — it got worse.” 


Hoppy previously denied Frankel’s harassment allegations, telling Us through his lawyer in 2017 that his “only concern is his daughter.”

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The Fight Continues

Frankel and Hoppy’s former co-parenting coordinator, Rami Mosseri, testified in court in March 2019 and revealed that he quit after a year of working with the duo. “I was able to get through the mother in some degree, I didn’t feel at the time as I was able to get through to the father,” Mosseri said, noting that he has only ever excused himself from a case one other time after 15 years in the business. 


“I tried to work with Mr. Hoppy to be more in touch with his anger towards her,” Mosseri told the judge. “And try to realize that life is complicated and that without each party making some compromises they will never be able to parent in an efficient way.”

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The Power of ‘RHONY’

According to Radar Online, Hoppy’s lawyer cited Frankel’s comments regarding Shields’ drug use on RHONY in court in May 2019. Frankel, for her part, maintained that she did not know Shields’ cause of death and argued that her words can be misconstrued on the Bravo hit. “You don’t understand reality television and how it works,” she said in court. “You’re talking about taking one hour from a 40-hour taping, and condensing it down. So many things are said, and things are edited out and taken out of context.”


The judge took Frankel’s side. “If you want to go down that road, you’d have to get a subpoena for us to watch the show and since it is edited you would have to get the uncut version, and that could delay the trial significantly,” the judge explained. “I don’t think that’s a route you want to go and I don’t think it is necessary.”

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