EXCLUSIVE: Tamra Judge Clears Up Child Custody Rumors, Addresses 'Sad' Relationship With Estranged Daughter
By Brice Sander
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EXCLUSIVE: Tamra Judge Clears Up Custody Battle Rumors
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Tamra Judge is setting the record straight when it comes to her children.
"I've never lost custody of any of my kids," The Real Housewives of Orange County star tells ET. "I hear that all the time … I'm not going through a custody battle."
The 48-year-old candidly revealed during a reunion episode last fall that she hasn't seen her 17-year-old daughter, Sidney Barney, in years.
"She came in the kitchen, and she sat down and she said, 'I don't want to live with you anymore,'" Tamra tearfully recalled. '"You've ruined my dad's life.' And I said, we need to work through these things. We can go to counseling."
"She basically left that day and, two years later, has not come back," she added. "It was all over the press that Simon was trying to take the kids away from me, and she never talked to me again."
Last year, Tamra said a therapist diagnosed Sidney as suffering from "parental alienation," where a child rejects the parent she doesn't live with.
"It's sad, and hard, and horrible, and it's happening all over the world," Tamra explains. "It's when a kid gets stuck in the middle … There was no huge thing that happened between us. It wasn't like we were fighting or screaming at each other. It was nothing like that."
"After the reunion, she was very upset that I mentioned it on the show," she shares. "For me, it was a good thing and a bad thing, because it got her to talk … She reconnected with my mom and with her brother, Ryan."
Tamra says her ex-husband, Simon Barney, has attempted to get sole custody of all three of their children in court, but the "judge laughed at him and said, 'No.'" Tamra, however, did relinquish custody of Sidney to Simon after their daughter opted to live with him full-time.
"As a result of [all this], her brother, Spencer, lives with me full time and he doesn't speak to his dad," Tamra says. "It's a mess. I have asked, like, 'Can the four of us sit down?’ … I truly believe kids need both their parents. They need both of them to be healthy, successful, happy adults. Now, the situation is just so messed up and [Simon] won't agree to it."
"I went to the court system," Tamra adds. "I tried to get us all group therapy, and the courts [say] basically, at 14, you're an adult in their eyes."
The experience motivated the star to join forces with Erasing Families, an organization which steps up for parents who have been "erased" by the court system.
"If there's anything that I can do from this experience, it's let other people know that this is happening all over the place, all over the world," she says. "Parents get divorced. Kids sometimes choose sides ... they just want to pick a side. They don't want to hear about it. They just want to pick a side, and they want to walk out, and that is like the worst thing they can do."
"When you allow a child to do that, you're teaching them to turn away from their problems and not deal with them," Tamra continues. "The long term effects are horrible … I've gotten so many emails from children that have gone through it, and the thing that they always say to me is, 'Never stop communicating with her. Even if she doesn't answer, send her a text message. Send her an email. Send her whatever you can,' and I do."
"Every single week, I send her something," Tamra adds. "'Thinking of you' ... it's all I can do."
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo. Check out the video below for more from our chat with Tamra.