According to court documents obtained by NBC News, a petition filed Thursday 21 September in the southern district of New York claimed that the former couple’s daughters have been wrongfully retained in New York City from “their habitual residence” in the United Kingdom.
The documents state that the former couple had made England their permanent residence in April 2023 due to a desire to have their children attend school in England. According to the filing, the Jonas Brothers singer and the Game of Thrones star moved into a rental in May 2023 with a plan to move into a permanent home in December 2023.
But amid relationship tensions complicated by travel arrangements over the summer, they reportedly decided that their daughters would travel with Jonas on his band’s US Tour, which began in July, while Turner began filming a new drama series in the UK in May.
However, Jonas ultimately filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in Miami Dade County, Florida, on 1 September. Per the court documents, Turner allegedly learned about the divorce filing through the media, when it was reported on 5 September.
After Jonas filed for divorce, the pair reportedly met on 17 September to discuss their separation and Turner reiterated their agreement for their daughters to return to England. However, the petition claims that Jonas was in possession of their passports and “refused to hand them over” to Turner.
“On or about September 17, 2023, the parties met to discuss their separation,” the petition reads, according to the Daily Mail. “The Mother [Turner] reiterated the parties’ agreed plan for the children to return home to England that week. The Father [Jonas] has possession of the children’s passports. He refuses to return the passports to the Mother and refuses to send the children home to England with the Mother.”
The court documents claim that by Jonas allegedly refusing to allow their daughters to return to England with Turner, it is a “breach of the Mother’s rights of custody under English law, England being the children’s habitual residence”. The petition was also filed under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which establishes proceedings for the return of children who have been wrongfully removed or kept away from their home country.
The British actor disputed Jonas’ initial claim that their children had been living in Florida for six months before announcing their split. In the divorce filing, Jonas stated that their daughters had been residing with him in Miami, as he had been caring for their two young children “pretty much all of the time” while his band was touring. His petition asked for joint custody of their daughters, stating that it is “in the best interests of the minor children that the parties have shared parental responsibility”.
In a statement to The Independent, a representative for Jonas stated that - following the singer’s divorce filing in Florida - the Florida Court has already entered an order that restricts both parents from relocating their children. Turner was allegedly served with this order on 6 September.
“Joe and Sophie had a cordial meeting this past Sunday in New York, when Sophie came to New York to be with the kids. They have been with her since that meeting,” said Jonas’ rep via email. “Joe’s impression of the meeting was that they had reached an understanding that they would work together towards an amicable co-parenting setup. Less than 24 hours later, Sophie advised that she wanted to take the children permanently to the UK.
“She demanded via this filing that Joe hand over the children’s passports so that she could take them out of the country immediately. If he complies, Joe will be in violation of the Florida Court order,” they said.
While the singer is “okay” with their children being raised in both the US and the UK, his rep stated that their daughters “are American citizens” born in the states and have spent “the vast majority of their lives” in the US.
“This is an unfortunate legal disagreement about a marriage that is sadly ending,” they added. “When language like ‘abduction’ is used, it is misleading at best, and a serious abuse of the legal system at worst. The children were not abducted.”
His reps also claim that Turner’s recent petition was filed “only to move the divorce proceedings to the UK and to remove the children from the US permanently.”
“Joe has already disavowed any and all statements purportedly made on his behalf that were disparaging of Sophie. They were made without his approval and are not consistent with his views,” they said. “His wish is that Sophie reconsider her harsh legal position and move forward in a more constructive and private manner. His only concern is the well-being of his children.”
Following news of their divorce, a source told TMZ that a difference in lifestyles, including Turner’s apparent affinity for “partying”, had been a reason behind Jonas making the decision to end their marriage. “[Turner] likes to party, [Jonas] likes to stay at home. They have very different lifestyles,” they claimed.
However, another source told TMZ that Jonas was “less than supportive” of his then-wife when she was struggling after giving birth to their second child last year. The singer allegedly pressured the actor to attend events and get out of the house more, despite her not wanting to be photographed.
At one specific event, sources claimed that Turner had “made it clear she was uncomfortable” and “didn’t want to be there”. At another event Turner didn’t attend, Jonas allegedly “complained” that Turner “needed to get out more”.
The pair issued a joint statement on 6 September, telling fans that they have “mutually decided to amicably end” their marriage. “After four years of wonderful marriage we have mutually decided to amicably end our marriage,” read the statement, which was posted to their respective Instagram accounts. “There are many speculative narratives as to why but, truly this is a united decision and we sincerely hope that everyone can respect our wishes for privacy for us and our children.”
Turner and Jonas first started dating in 2016 and were married in 2019, when Turner was 23 and Jonas was 29. They welcomed their first daughter Willa, three, in July 2020 and a second daughter, whose name they have not revealed, in 2022.
The Independent has contacted representatives for Turner and Jonas for comment.