Cher Seeking Settlement with Son in Conservatorship War

A Los Angeles judge refused to dismiss Cher’s bid for a conservatorship over her adult son Elijah Blue Allman’s finances on Wednesday, instead granting the singer a three-month delay to gather medical records and pursue a private settlement ahead of a new June 11 hearing.

Allman, 47, appeared in person for the hearing and said he opposed his mom’s petition, which seeks control of his finances with claims he suffers from “severe mental health and substance abuse issues.” His lawyer accused Cher’s side of stalling tactics and pushing for a private mediation without first agreeing there was a “middle ground” to discuss.

“We’ve talked about alternative and less-restrictive means. [They] indicated that a supportive decision-making agreement is not in [Allman’s] best interest because he still has the ability to fire that person,” Allman’s lawyer Steven Brumer told the court, saying he believes Cher’s position is “conservatorship or nothing.” “We are concerned that this is an effort to continue moving this case forward, further and further, to bleed Mr. Allman dry,” Brumer said.  

But Cher’s lawyer, Gabrielle Vidal, said her client was willing to pay for private mediation and that it was Allman who was unwilling to come to the table. “Cher would very much would like the opportunity to make sure she’s taken every possible step to try to resolve this informally,” Vidal said Wednesday.

Judge Jessica Uzcategui ultimately ruled that Cher was entitled to more time to build her case. “I’m certainly not in position to deny this petition today,” she said, setting the follow-up hearing for June. The judge also set a mandatory settlement conference for October. “I do think there is a lot of breadth between conservatorship or no conservatorship. You mentioned some options. So that’s where I would encourage the parties to meet and potentially mediate.”

At a hearing in the case five weeks ago, Cher’s lawyer told the court the singer fears for her son’s safety because beyond his battle with addiction, “there is a secondary issue in that he suffers from schizoaffective disorder that leads to periods of psychosis.” Vidal said Allman had been placed on involuntary hospital holds “multiple times over the past calendar year,” including last September. The lawyer said Allman was no longer in the care of the medical doctors who were treating him for his alleged psychiatric issues, and Cher was terrified that “his life is at risk.” She said Cher was worried he was too vulnerable to receive trust payments from the estate of his late father, the musician Gregg Allman.

“We feel an urgency persists because he’s surrounded by people who deny the mental illness component, and the concern is that if he gets this distribution into his hands, and during a period of stress, that that will lead to the drug use. This proceeding was filed because Cher was told unequivocally by the doctors treating him, that if she did not take this step as his mother, the concern was that he would once again end up on the street,” Vidal said.

Allman made only one comment on the record Wednesday, confirming to the court that he continued to object to his mom’s petition. He appeared at two prior hearings in the case where the same judge declined to grant Cher’s petition on either an emergency or temporary basis. At one of those hearings in late January, Judge Uzcategui said she believed Cher’s concerns were sincere, but that she had not yet seen enough evidence that Allman lacked the capacity to manage his own affairs. Cher first sought conservatorship control over Allman in a Dec. 27 petition that cited his alleged “ongoing mental health and substance abuse” issues.

“I don’t question the motivation behind Cher’s request as having been driven by concern for her son,” Judge Uzcategui said in January. “And I understand the perhaps overlapping issues with respect to substance abuse and mental health that have affected the proposed conservatee in the past. I don’t think he questions that either. I see a lot of acknowledgment of that in some of the paperwork.” But concerns are not “sufficient evidence,” she said.

In court filings, Allman has said he tested negative for drugs and alcohol in a series of voluntary tests in January and had rented a new residence in Westwood with his wife amid their reconciliation. He told the court he also was in the process of hiring a business manager. “In the two weeks since the initial hearing, I have been successfully managing my income and expenses and have refrained from the use of illicit substances that have historically caused the incidents that have given rise to my mother’s concern,” he wrote.

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“I am doing well and do not need the help that my mother is offering,” he said. “There was no emergency giving rise to a conservatorship at the last hearing, and there is certainly none now.”

In her original petition, Cher said she only wished to protect her son. “Petitioner loves Elijah immensely and has always acted with his best interests in mind,” her Dec. 27 filing said. According to the paperwork, Elijah receives regular distributions from the trust established by his father. Cher estimated he receives $120,000 a year. “Given his ongoing mental health and substance abuse issues, Petitioner is concerned that any funds distributed to Elijah will immediately be spent on drugs, leaving Elijah with no assets to provide for himself, and putting Elijah’s life at risk,” her filing said.

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