updated 01/26/2011 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/26/2011 AT 8:05 PM ET
Tensions between Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and Adam Dell, the father of her 11-month-old daughter Krishna Thea, are reaching a boiling point.
A friend of Lakshmi tells PEOPLE the reality host is “devastated” that Dell made their custody battle public by filing court papers in Manhattan requesting more time with Krishna.
“She said ‘I’m living in a nightmare,’ ” the friend says. “She’s a single working mother who is trying very hard to have a peaceful and calm environment for her daughter. The recent events are making it difficult.”
Another source says Lakshmi, 40, has “encouraged Mr. Dell to be in Krishna’s life. [Krishna] needs to know her father and have a consistent relationship with him.” However, the source points out that Lakshmi is still nursing her daughter and that “[Dell’s visitation] will increase as Krishna ages – as it’s appropriate.”
Dell’s attorney says his client isn’t interested in garnering attention, but simply getting more time with his daughter. “There was no desire for publicity and Adam regrets that there is some – but [he] can’t help it given that he was forced to go to court to assert his rights as a father,” his lawyer, Bill Zabel, of Manhattan law firm Schulte, Roth & Zabel, tells PEOPLE.
Lakshmi’s attorney, Jay D. Silverstein of Blank Rome LLP, disputes the facts laid out in Dell’s court papers, calling them “inaccurate and misleading.”
“Ms. Lakshmi looks forward to correcting the record in the courts, not the press,” said Silverstein in a statement. “She is saddened and gravely disappointed that Mr. Dell has chosen a very public means of filing his petition with the court rather than doing so in a confidential or sealed manner, which is customary in cases involving a very young child.”
A rep for Lakshmi says the TV host believes family matters should remain private and contends that Lakshmi and her lawyers only learned about the court filming through a statement Dell provided to the press.
“Ms. Lakshmi’s sole interest lies in preserving the privacy and welfare of her daughter and in working out and fair and amicable agreement out of the media’s glare,” adds the rep.