More than two years after filing for divorce, the battle between Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen has only become more bitter.
Richards, 37, and Sheen, 42, have been fighting over the custody of their daughters, Lola, 2, and Sam, 3, since April 2006. Sometimes they praise each other's parenting to the press. Other times they accuse each other of sending vile e-mails and indulging in underage porn.
Much of their mud has been slung through the media, which is now playing an even bigger role in their saga. "It's Complicated," Richards' reality show about the trials and tribulations of parenting in Hollywood, premiered last night on E!.
"She is out there bringing the issues up again by appearing on TV; he should understand at this point that any communication with her has a risk of going public and that's true for her too," said Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred. "Obviously, it's the divorce from hell. This is divorce wars, and I hope the children are not the losers."
On the level of Paul McCartney versus Heather Mills and Mick Jagger versus Jerry Hall, the Sheen-Richards headlines have run the gamut from sad to malicious to just plain weird. Sheen accused Richards of asking for his sperm; Richards called said sperm "prostitute-tranny infested." Sheen claimed Richards calls him for no reason; Richards said Sheen sent her a text message telling her to "get cancer" and "rot in hell."
It's one of Hollywood's ugliest divorces, and regardless of the outcome, it's tough to see how either party will emerge the winner. According to Lynn Toler, the judge who presides over "Divorce Court," Richards and Sheen are equally in the wrong and there's only one thing for them to do.
"Clearly they both should shut up," she said. "If someone says something to you, no matter what it is, you don't win by responding. If one person keeps spouting off and the other person keeps being quiet -- as Kevin Federline did with Britney Spears -- then that other person can stay cool, calm and collected long enough for the situation to turn around."
"It's just kind of silly if you allow the other person to goad you into saying or doing something that doesn't do you or your kids any good," she continued. "It's like, 'He hit me first mommy.' It's just not relevant."
From an etiquette standpoint too, they both lost a long time ago.
"They both look pretty bad considering they've said the things they said out in public," said Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post and author of "How Do You Work This Life Thing?" The best thing the two of them can do is have the same united front to the public and say whatever they want to in private. They can be downright nasty and dirty but they need to keep that behind closed doors."
Even if Richards attacks Sheen via the press or vice-versa, in Post's book, it's wrong for the wounded party to retaliate by spreading more dirt.
"It's just like what you tell your kids if they're dealing with a bully on the playground," she said. "It's never acceptable to fight back."
But fight they do. Below, a blow-by-blow account of Sheen and Richards' more than two-year-long battle:
April 19, 2006: Richards files for divorce from Sheen, alleging he's unstable, violent, addicted to gambling and prostitutes, and visits pornographic Web sites featuring young men and girls who appear to be underage. She also claims Sheen assaulted her and threatened her life during a 2005 incident at her Los Angeles home.