The Heroes star opened up about relinquishing custody of Kaya during Wednesday’s (28 September) episode of Red Table Talk hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, her mother Adrienne Banfield Norris, and guest host Kelly Osbourne.
In 2018, Kaya, who was born in 2014, went to live with her boxer father in Eastern Europe as Panettiere sought treatment for her addiction to alcohol and pills. Panettiere and Klitschko split that same year.
“[Kaya] was almost three and it wasn’t fully my decision,” the actor said. “In fact, I didn’t even know it was happening until she was already over there [Ukraine].”
The Independent has contacted representatives for Klitschko for comment.
Banfield Norris asked the actor: “I thought this was an agreement that you came to that you felt it was best that your daughter be with her dad?”
To which Panettiere replied: “I was gonna go work on myself and I was gonna get better, and when I got better that things could change and she could come to me and I could have my time with her.
“But that didn’t happen.”
She continued: “I thought she was going over to visit him like she always did.
“[Kaya] would go back and forth from me in Nashville and Ukraine, and then once she was over there, it was immediately ‘I want full custody of her,’ which was a shock to me.
“It was very upsetting signing those papers to give him full custody. It was like the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever, ever had to do in my life,” added Panettiere.
“In a country where her uncle [Vitali Klitschko] is the mayor and they are icons over there, it’s a country where it’s very male-dominated. There wasn’t a heck of a lot I could do.”
Red Table Talk airs on Facebook Watch on Wednesday at 12pm ET.