COLUMBO star Peter Falk's stepdaughter and his wife have started a bitter battle in court over conservatorship of the ailing actor.
Falk is battling dementia and his daughter Catherine has filed for conservatorship of her father, claiming her stepmother Shera has refused to let her see the actor.
During the opening day of the conservatorship hearing on Wednesday (27May09), Catherine told a court in Los Angeles her stepmother repeatedly slammed the door on her and her sister when they tried to visit their father at his home in Beverly Hills.
Falk's daughter also confessed she had become estranged from her father but chose to build a relationship with the star after he underwent hip replacement surgery last year (08).
She told the court she and her father fell out over a financial dispute.
Catherine Falk filed a petition for conservatorship in December (08), and, as a result, she was allowed a court-ordered visit with her father, who didn't recognise her.
Shera Falk’s attorney, Marshal Oldman, told reporters outside court that he feared the stepdaughter's primary motive was financial, explaining, "There is certainly concern about finances on the part of Catherine. Whether that’s the primary motive, we’ll let the court decide."
The legal spat will resume on Monday (01Jun09) when Shera Falk is expected to testify.