Mel Gibson Makes a Crucial Court Appearance

VIDEO: Oksana Grigorieva turns down offer to pose nude for Playboy magazine.
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Mel Gibson has seven kids with his ex-wife Robyn Gibson. But right now it seems the sole weight of his paternity is on child number eight: Lucia, the daughter that he had with his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.

Today Gibson makes an appearance in the family law area of Los Angeles County Superior Court to address custodial rights involving Lucia, now a little over a year old.

"We're told the atmosphere was extremely tense and that Mel and Oksana have not interacted," reported TMZ in describing the in-court scene.

TMZ has also reported that Gibson will try "to wrestle custody from Oksana on grounds she is not acting in the best interests of Lucia. He's also asking the judge to deny Oksana overnight visits, and to grant her supervised visitation."

It's also reporting that the reason Gibson is appearing in court is "because he wants the judge to see how serious he is about getting full custody, on grounds Oksana is hurting Lucia by going on what he considers a public smear campaign rooted in lies. We're told Mel's team believes Oksana's conduct -- especially in the face of Judge Scott Gordon warning her to stay silent -- smacks of instability."

TMZ's sources also said: "Mel will ask the judge to make the order last for six months, after which the issues can be revisited."

Attorneys representing both parties did not return calls.

In advance of any official legal ruling, victims' rights attorney Gloria Allred weighed in.

"It appears that Gibson is seeking primary physical custody of Lucia, and is attempting to severely restrict Oksana's visitation rights, but I think it's unlikely he'll obtain this," she said.

"In family law, the general principle is to do what's in the best interest of the child," she said, adding there are many factors that are involved with this type of decision. "However, the court will always consider which primary parent the child has been living with, and will wish to continue this arrangement unless it's no longer in the best interest of the child to continue it.

"Because Gibson's infant daughter has been living with Grigorieva, it is she who has had primary physical custody, and it's Gibson who has been having overnight visitation. The court would probably be reluctant to change this arrangement."

Mel Gibson vs. Oksana Grigorieva in Court

Grigorieva has hardly been mum on the subject.

This month, she gave her first major television interview about her domestic violence accusations against Gibson on "Larry King Live."

Grigorieva has alleged, according to RadarOnline.com, that last January, at his mansion in Malibu, Gibson "punched out two of her front teeth, leaving her bloodied, bruised and with a concussion."

In a court document available on TMZ.com, Gibson attested that on that January evening he had asked Grigorieva to leave his house as an argument became increasingly heated. Gibson claims that Grigorieva "held Lucia between us, literally placing our two-month baby in the middle of our argument."

The argument escalated, says Gibson, who claimed that, because he was "increasingly afraid for Lucia's safety, I slapped Oksana one time with an open hand in an attempt to bring her back to reality."

In a legal document, Gibson says, "I did not slap her hard, I was just trying to shock her so that she would stop screaming, continuing shaking Lucia back and forth." Gibson has conceded in the document that he doesn't believe he handled the situation as well as he should have.

Despite both Gibson's and Grigorieva's different versions of what happened during this incident, Allred believes that Gibson's recorded telephone rants against Grigorieva may prove detrimental to his case. "There's no good way to view Gibson's recorded comments in a positive way," said Allred.

Oksana Grigorieva and Mel Gibson.

Grigorieva spoke about these recordings on "Larry King Live," saying, "I started taping it around 11 o'clock because I thought, 'I'm actually not going to live through the night. I wanted my mother to be able to prove that if I'm dead that this is who did it."

Grigorieva said last July that Gibson was "trivializing domestic violence." In a video interview with RadarOnline.com, she said, "It is unfair that by standing up to somebody -- and speaking out -- I am being victimized all over again."

Nevertheless, Allred said, "I would not have advised a client whose circumstances were similar to Ms. Grigorieva's to do an interview with Larry King – or any interviews – because of the timing."

Mel Gibson in Court Over Daughter

Allred said there are too many legal issues pending – a criminal investigation to find out whether she has been the victim of domestic violence and whether Grigorieva should be prosecuted for extortion.

If there's anything resembling an easy answer to this custody case, Allred suggested that it's the "he said, she said" quality of their interplay. "What you say in public can have an effect on the custody outcome," she said. "Ordinarily judges don't like it when one parent makes derogatory comments about the other."

According to TMZ.com, Oksana did the "Larry King Live" interview -- one of her lawyers, Martin Garbus, was also present -- even though Judge Scott Gordon had told her "that if she did media, she might pay when it comes to awarding custody ... this according to Oksana's team."

This may not be the type of custody case with a quick outcome. "Often a family court judge will hear the case and render a decision at a later time," said Allred.

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