Selling Sunset's Amanza Smith awarded full custody of her 2 kids as ex-husband remains missing
Amanza Smith is looking forward.
The Selling Sunset star, 44, was awarded full custody of her two kids — daughter Noah, 11, and son Braker, 10 — in a Los Angeles courthouse on Wednesday, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. The decision came as the children's father and Smith's ex-husband, former NFL player Ralph Brown, remains missing.
Smith and Brown, who divorced in 2012, shared 50/50 custody of the kids until his disappearance in August 2019 — the last time the Oppenheim Group real estate agent or her kids heard from him. Smith has told PEOPLE in the past that the kids spent half of the week with Brown until his sudden disappearance from their lives.
The court documents indicate that Smith now has sole legal and physical custody of Noah and Braker, and that Brown will not have visitation rights.
"I'm relieved that this long process is over. It's been incredibly hard on me and especially the children," Smith tells PEOPLE in a statement. "We will never be 'over' the absence of their father, but hopefully we can move forward in a more positive way now that we are unhindered by the legal obstacles that prevented me from making the decisions that are best for us as a family of three."
A rep for the star adds, "This incredibly difficult process was sadly necessary to allow Amanza to make decisions for the welfare of the children that joint custody has prevented, such as getting them in therapy to help them deal with the loss of their father."
The court documents indicate that Brown "has not been involved in this case for 2 years," and in them, he is ordered to "provide his current contact information to the court." Additionally, if he wants visitation rights in the future, he will have to file a "Request for Order for Modification of Visitation."
Smith spoke to PEOPLE about the situation with Brown in February, explaining that she had decided to speak out to try to locate him.
"I made the choice to put my life on a television show, and when I made that choice this wasn't our reality, but it is now," Smith said at the time. "So I may as well use the platform to try to figure out how to get some answers."
While she said she was unsure what led to his disappearance, she speculated that it could be related to a medical condition, specifically CTE, a brain condition associated with repeated trauma to the head.
The interior designer-turned-real estate reality star spoke candidly about Brown on an episode of the Dear Media podcast Not Skinny But Not Fat in October 2020, telling host Amanda Hirsch, "I don't know where he is" but "I'm positive he's alive."
"He was a great father when he was around. He was a very loyal, hands-on, dedicated, interactive father," she added, admitting, "I know it sounds so crazy."
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She noted that the last time she saw him was Aug. 26, 2019 — but the last time she heard from him was a few days later, on Sept. 1. "He sent me an email, and he said, 'My situation isn't good right now. I can't financially take care of the children. It's not safe for them to be with me. You need to keep them until my situation changes,'" she told Hirsch at the time.
Smith has also shared that Brown's family has been unresponsive throughout the situation, despite her leaving them multiple calls, emails, text messages, and more. "Anytime I reach out to anyone I get blocked," she told Hirsch, adding that it's been traumatic for her kids, as they were "very close to their grandparents, aunts, and uncles."
The former model shared that she also grew up without her father, so she knows how hard this must be for the kids.
"If he does come back, it'll never go back to 50/50 [custody]," she said at the time. "They're amazing kids, but they're hurt.
"This is the kind of stuff that's going to come back up later [in their lives]," she added. "Braker is angry, and Noah is sad."
This story originally appeared on people.com