The custody dispute between HGTV‘s Christina Hall and her ex-husband, TV personality Ant Anstead, is heating up again. The former couple shares physical custody of their three-year-old son, Hudson, but Anstead has filed a new complaint in court that accuses Hall of exploiting their young child to make money. Here’s the scoop on the situation…
Inside Anstead & Hall’s Complicated History
Christina Hall rose to fame with her first husband, Tarek El Moussa, with whom she co-hosted HGTV’s hit show “Flip or Flop” for a decade. They separated in 2016 and finalized their divorce in 2018, but continued filming until it just got too difficult. The couple has two kids, 12-year-old daughter Taylor and 7-year-old son Brayden.
British-born Anstead, who rose to fame in the U.S. on shows like “Wheeler Dealers,” which he left in 2020, and “Celebrity IOU: Joyride” on Discovery+, was previously married for 22 years, until 2017. He shares two kids — 19-year-old Amelie and 16-year-old Archie — with his ex-wife, Louise, who remarried in early 2022. The teenagers live with their mom in England, but Anstead says he maintains a close relationship with them, including frequent visits.
Anstead and Hall started dating in October 2017, according to People, and married in December 2018. They welcomed baby Hudson in September 2019, but split in 2020 after less than two years of marriage.
Anstead told People that the breakup was “devastating” for him, but they’ve both since moved on to new relationships; Hall got married for a third time, to Texas real estate broker Josh Hall in early 2022, and Anstead has been dating Oscar-winning actress Renée Zellweger since mid-2021.
After their divorce, Anstead and Hall seemed to be in agreement about how to co-parent Hudson amicably. But things fell apart by April 2022, when Anstead filed for primary custody, claiming that Hall was only with Hudson nine days out of each month, and that the environment wasn’t always safe. He also hoped to prevent Hudson from being featured in any “commercial endeavor” without his permission.
Hall fought back in a media statement at the time, saying that she was saddened by Anstead’s filing and wished he’d addressed the issues privately with a mediator. She wrote, “I have had my share of ups and downs but I am a good mom and I love my children with all my heart and I will always protect them.”
The judge denied Anstead’s emergency custody request at the time, saying Hall needed time to argue her side of the story, and a custody hearing was scheduled for June 2022.
Anstead Says Hudson Continues to Be ‘Exploited’
After the April custody dispute, the former couple managed to work out many of their differences without having a hearing, and established a more consistent custody schedule. But on September 27, Anstead headed back to court, saying that Hall had continued to feature Hudson in paid promotions on social media and filming for her HGTV shows, “Christina on the Coast” and the upcoming “Christina in the Country.”
Both parents frequently share photos and videos of their young son on social media, but Anstead is opposed to Hudson being included in any social media promotions, ads, or TV shows that Hall is paid for. In court documents obtained by Us Weekly, Anstead told the court, “I do not believe it is in Hudson’s best interests to be exploited as a ‘spokesperson, ambassador’ or as a ‘model’ for any products or social media campaigns.”
“I hope the funds Christina has received in the past paid posts in which Hudson appears, will be diverted to Hudson’s savings account,” Ant added.
He also expressed concern that Hall may be filming Hudson for future episodes of her shows, saying, “I fear she also has footage of him, to be used in one of her reality TV shows, without my knowledge or consent, and continues to film him despite my objections.”
Anstead pointed to a child star from TLC’s “Toddlers & Tiaras” who died by suicide in May 2022, saying that he worried about Hudson dealing with the kind of pressure Kaila Posey did, after having footage of her early childhood available for social media scrutiny as she grew up. One clip of her grinning widely became a viral meme.
Page Six said Anstead, 43, also wrote, “Putting aside the obvious pressures of working within a TV production environment, children involved in television production often have lingering issues that affect their welfare, worldview, and self-image, leaving them diminished and dependent upon the perceived approval of others for their self-worth.”
Anstead proceeded to request legal custody of Hudson, but said he’d still be fine with Hall having physical custody of Hudson 50 percent of the time.
“l do not believe it is in Hudson’s best interests to be exploited by his mother for professional and financial gain,” he explained to the court, according to Entertainment Tonight. “As she insists that he should be, I ask the court to give me legal custody so I can make the decisions to protect Hudson and prevent this from happening. I want Hudson, as a normal three-year-old, to have an organic relationship with his mother and I will continue to fully support her in having physical custody of Hudson 50 percent of the time.”
Hall Calls Anstead’s Accusations ‘Offensive’ & Accuses Him of Craving Attention
Hall clapped back at Anstead’s claims, filing a response with the court on September 28. Entertainment Tonight reported that the 37-year-old star wrote, “The allegation that I am ‘exploiting’ our son is truly offensive and simply untrue.”
She continued, “I offered private mediation and private judging to resolve and address his issues privately before he filed his request for order and Ant declined. Ant instead chose to tarnish my good name with knowingly false allegations… His declaration makes it clear that he is only interested in smearing me publicly.”
Hall then accused her ex-husband of being fame-hungry and an absent parent to his older children.
“Ant gave full custody of his two older children to his ex-wife, who lives in England,” she wrote. “He moved to America to chase fame and after that ran out, it seems he is using these non-issues to continue to gain public attention to keep himself relevant and in the public eye.”
Hall did not deny including Hudson in her social media campaigns or TV shows, but said any filming is done casually and without their three-year-old realizing he’s on-camera. For her TV shows, she said, it’s for quick scenes at home or fun family outings, and not on a film set.
As for social media ads, she wrote, “He appeared in few of my own Instagram ads that each took less than minutes to film. I have all the footage and they were all fun activities that he enjoyed doing, such as playing with toys or making cookies. These were organic moments in Hudson’s eyes. Nothing was forced, and they were filmed with cell phone, not production team.”
In response to claims about exploiting Hudson and pocketing the profits, Hall said she’s set aside $100,000 for Hudson and keeps adding to his fund when she can, and that she hopes Anstead is setting aside money for their son, too.
She then claimed, “Hudson has not appeared in any of my Instagram endorsements since April 2022, when Ant asked me not to have him in them.” However, an ad for Mattress Firm that she posted to her Instagram feed on August 26 features two photos of Hudson in it.
Hall also told the court that she had suggested removing Hudson entirely from TV and social media, but that Anstead was the one who wanted to keep posting images of Hudson on his feeds.
Hall’s court filing ends with her writing, “I am hopeful that Ant will abandon this destructive course of action. I am a dedicated and protective mother and am diligent about the welfare of all my children. I am saddened that Ant continues to impugn my character and continues to portray me in false light.”
According to Orange County court documents obtained by Heavy, a new custody hearing is now scheduled for March 2023.
UPDATE: Hall Posts Public Response From Tennessee
On September 29, Hall may have escalated tensions by publicly expressing her frustrations via social media. She posted a photo of her sitting in husband Josh’s lap by a campfire with trees and blue sky in the background. The couple has a home near Nashville, where they vacation and live when filming “Christina in the Country.”
“Tennessee nights. This place has been so good for my soul,” she wrote. “When the world is spinning and people are a**holes, this is my safe place. The fall weather, the trees and animals, quiet nights by the fire. Life is short. Spend it with people who light up your life instead of try to dim it.”
Meanwhile, although Hall claimed in her court documents that Anstead had refused to handle matters through private mediation, Us Weekly reported on September 29 that, based on a review of Orange County court documents, the former couple spent 12 hours in private mediation earlier in the month but “were unable to reach an agreement” on custody issues. The magazine reported that a source said an end-of-September court appearance was postponed, which is why Hall was not in court when Anstead submitted his formal complaint.
In her Instagram Stories on the 29th, the designer shared photos from an HGTV shoot in which she and Josh were on horses, and she also reposted a “Letting Go” affirmation from C. Ara Campbell, creator of the “Goddess Circle” and author of “Dark Goddess Magick.” The affirmation says, in part, “I release what no longer serves my highest good. I clear away old patterns and beliefs. I am patient and gentle with myself as I am in the midst of transformation.”