Project Runway Star and Partner Fight for Kids’ Custody

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Wednesday February 12, 2014

Forget about sassy rejoinders from Tim Gunn; "Project Runway" Season 10 star Alicia Hardesty of Original X Tomboy is facing a real uphill battle. She and her fiancé, Ashley, are battling for custody of Ashley's two sons, Joshua, 7, and Nicholas, 8. And they are asking for the community's help via a campaign.

"Her two boys are grounded in Honolulu with their father [who is in the military]. When he found out about Ashley's involvement with me, he wasn't mentally prepared for the mother of his kids to be in a relationship with a woman. He proceeded to stalk my online social media accounts and threaten me through emails and voicemail," Hardesty writes on the website.

But instead of driving them apart, the crisis brought the women closer. They hired LGBT-friendly lawyer Christy L. Ho of Honolulu, who advised them to move either to Honolulu, where Ashley's ex-husband lives, or Texas, where the boys are originally from, and where they have other family members. So they packed up and moved to the Lone Star state. But Ashley has yet to see her kids.

"In Hawaii, they have weird laws about kids under a certain age; they can't leave the island without both parents approval," said Hardesty. "She doesn't have visitation, and hasn't talked to her kids in a month. She wants visitation to be equal at least. And he doesn't take responsibility as parent to connect them with her."

According to excerpts of his letters posted on the website, the ex-husband has no intention of making life easy for his wife and her new partner.

"As I have already told you, as long as you continue down this path I don't feel like you are fit to be around your children," he reportedly wrote. "I am not saying you have been a bad mother this whole time but you are right now. I will also fight you tooth and nail over involving Alicia in our kids lives. You had no right to bring her into their lives like that and she had no right to inject herself."

"You are setting a completely shit example for our children in what is appropriate adult behavior," he continued. "You should be ashamed of yourself, I know I am.... I really wish I didn't know you so I could laugh at the whole thing."

Don’t Get Mad; Get Custody

For a while, said Hardesty, she dealt with her partner’s ex-husband quietly, hoping he would stop his attacks and decide on what was best for the children without vicious anger. But from the very beginning, he was gunning for her, and using the children as leverage.

"They were separated at the time, but once I came into the picture and he realized it was serious between us, he became controlling, and did things to scare her and try to ’make her act right,’" said Hardesty. "She didn’t do what he wanted her to, so he flew off the handle. He made her think he would use this against her as long as he could, saying things like, ’What would you think a conservative judge would think of this’?"

That’s why the two moved to Texas, to put Ashley in a better position to get her kids back. The women saved up enough money to give their lawyer a retainer, but not enough to take care of the mounting legal bills, or to fund travel for Ashley to see her children.

"Unfortunately it’s not an uncommon story; there are lots of people who have been through this," Hardesty told EDGE. "This is really sad and I hope I can bring attention to it, so that maybe going forward, we won’t have as many issues."

Hardesty said that while they and their lawyer are focusing on what is best for the kids, Ashley’s ex-husband is making the custody battle all about Hardesty and the lesbian relationship she has with his ex-wife.

In an effort to take the high road, Hardesty and her partner started a gofundme campaign, to raise $10,000 for expenses. They have only raised about $1,600 so far, but they hope that as they continue to tell their story, the community will pitch in to help Ashley be reunited with her kids and Hardesty. As Ashley writes on the website, she didn’t know when she left Hawaii that she wouldn’t be able to take her kids. She didn’t choose Hardesty over her kids, wrote Ashley; she chose herself, for once.

"Our story deserves a happy ending," writes Ashley. "I can’t explain the emotional toll it is to be in the happiest, healthiest relationship you have ever known, but not be able to experience that love and happiness with what is my entire world -- my two boys. When all is said and done, whether we get full custody or just visitation, the time we do have the boys is when we get to live Happily Ever After."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Comments on Facebook