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Rutherford-Giersch Custody Battle Continues

Last week a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ordered actress Kelly Rutherford to return her two children to their father, Daniel Giersch, who lives in Monaco. In doing so, the custody battle between the two rages on.

Custody Battle


The judge’s decision came after the 46-year-old actress failed to send son Hermes, 8, and daughter Helena, 6, back to Giersch after spending the summer in New York with her.

“From the beginning I have said I will fight for my children,” she said in an interview.

It seems Giersch’s attorney are happy with the decision. “We are pleased that the American judicial system has prevailed,” said Giersch’s attorney Fahi Takesh Hallin. “Daniel’s request to exclude the press today from the courtroom was granted, to protect the children’s privacy. In addition, his stance of promoting Kelly’s time with the children has not changed.”

The custody battled has raged since 2012, when a California judge ruled that the children should live in France with their father after his U.S. visa was revoked. Since that ruling, Rutherford has fought to bring her children back to the U.S., but neither California nor New York have jurisdiction in the case.

“It puts me as a parent in an odd place if no one is taking jurisdiction,” she has said. “How do you put your kids on a plane not knowing what is going to happen?”

Giersch’s mother was in court to greet the children and return them to Monaco following the judge’s ruling.

Rutherford was supposed to have sent the children back earlier in the week, but released a statement announcing her decision to keep the children, writing, “I have decided that I cannot lawfully send my children away from the United States to live in a foreign country.”

Giersch’s legal team immediately fired back following the release of Rutherford’s statement, issuing a letter demanding that Rutherford send the children back to Monaco immediately. The letter was followed with a filing in New York County Supreme Court.

Child Custody and Co-Parenting

Given that the Rutherford-Giersch custody battle has been going on for years, it seems unlikely that the two will ever be able to learn how to co-parent successfully. It can be a difficult situation to work out, especially if parents live on different sides of the world. Still, people find a way to make it work.

Co-Parenting Advice

Here’s some advice from co-parenters that have been there before:

  •  “Remember this: Genetically, your kids are 50% your ex. Every negative thing you say about him or her, you’re saying about the kids, too.”
  • “Get a therapist for the kids during the divorce, not after. We did so and my kids really benefitted from having someone removed from the situation to talk to about their feelings. She encouraged them to open up and helped us sidestep a lot of serious issues.”
  • “Understand that some situations don’t lend themselves to co-parenting. Consider alternatives like parallel parenting. Just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean that your spouse has changed.”
  • “Be empathetic about the grief they are experiencing. Encourage them to talk and don’t judge their feelings.”
  • “Try your hardest to co-parent. Be there for your ex so you two can support your kids as a team. It’s no longer about the adults so put any animosity aside and do what is in the best interest of your children.”
  • “If you’re allowing the kids to choose who they live with, don’t make them feel guilty about their choice.”

The most important thing you can do is remember to put your child’s needs first. If you keep the focus on them you’ll be able to avoid getting into emotional ruts with your co-parent. Focusing on your child’s needs will ensure that they always get what’s best for them.

Here are some more ideas for making your co-parenting situation work:

Time for a  ‘Timeout’

If you are not able to give yourself a timeout, and find that you are still stewing about conversing with your ex, consult a “co-parenting coordinator,” attorney or counselor – with or without your ex-spouse. This objective third party can be a great sounding board for ironing out your co-parenting relationship.

According to Alison Willet, a Birmingham resident and psychologist who has worked with high-conflict divorce, it is crucial for ex-spouses to heal fully from the pain that stems from their divorce if they plan to find a way to co-parent effectively.

The mother of three daughters and two step-daughters goes on to say, “People going through divorce need to take the necessary time to grieve the end of this major relationship and remember that at one time, they loved or cared about the other parent. When parents are psychologically intact, it will be easier for them to put the needs of their children first.”

Play to Your Ex’s Strengths

By now you know what your ex is good and and what they’re not so good at. So play fair when it comes to your kids and your ex’s abilities.

“You probably know your ex-spouse better than anyone else,” says Chris Tucker, father of Finn, 9, and Simon, 7, and step-dad to Lucas, 6. “Play to those strengths – not in a manipulative way, but in a spirit of making the best use of one another’s talents.”

Tucker’s situation is: he has his boys two-thirds of the year; their mother visits monthly from Virginia. She also takes them over school breaks and summer. Tucker, his wife, his ex-wife, and her husband all work as a unit to parent the children.

“We like to think of ourselves – Colleen, her husband, my wife and I – as members of a family ecosystem,” says Tucker. “This means that everyone involved is invested in and accountable for raising our kids, and it goes a long way in building trust and mutual respect.”

Cooperation is Key

This can be the hardest part of a co-parenting relationship – cooperating.

According to mother Shaindle Braunstein-Cohen, “Effective co-parenting does not require friendship, but it does require cooperation.”

“My ex and I get along when we have contact, but we never have contact outside of our son,” she says. “When my son wanted to show his dad his new room in our new home, he did. Successful co-parenting involves only one thing: loving your child more than you hate your ex.”

When her ex moved out-of-state, Braunstein-Cohen gained full custody of her 14-year-old Seth.  When he wants to see his dad or vice versa, both her and Seth’s father to make it happen. “Sure, that meant I had many holidays without him, but it wasn’t about me,” she says.

You can’t keep living in the past either.

“The kids can become an obsession, a club to beat your ex over the head with,” says Braunstein-Cohen. “You can’t live in the past, and you also can’t live in the future. Just live in the now. The moment is here; it’s what you’ve got. Make the best of it.”

Children, Sports, and the Increasing Number of Brain Injuries

Experts Weigh In on Rutherford-Giersch

According to Dan Abrams, a chief legal analyst that works for ABC News, Rutherford’s decision to keep her children in the U.S. was a “risky move.” He believes the U.S. State department has “to get involved now.”

“I called for them to get involved a while ago when [the kids] were in Monaco, saying they should bring the kids back,” he said. “I think they are going to have to get involved, I think they are going to have to make an incredibly hard decision.”

Move Away Child Custody

Child custody cases involving move-aways can be very difficult. If two parents have shared joint custody prior to the move it can feel almost impossible to find a new workable arrangement. States offer different laws regarding relocation custody, but as with all child custody cases, the best interest of the child is always taken into consideration. California has permissive move-away laws and takes the following into consideration when determining a move-away relocation:

  • Will the child’s lifestyle remain stable?
  • How far is the move?
  • Is the reason behind the move necessary?
  • How old is the child?
  • Will the parents be able to maintain a co-parenting relationship?
  • What does the child want?
  • What are the child’s individual relationships with each parent like?

Additionally, a move away request is considered a modification of court orders. If you are looking to modify original orders you need to be mindful of the current custody and visitation rights you have.  Working with an attorney is the best way to handle child custody relocation. Often time these cases can be difficult, especially if you are the non-custodial parent fighting against relocation. An attorney will be able to look at your case and determine the best course of action.

Next Court Date for Rutherford

The Rutherford-Giersch case is an interesting one due to the fact that Giersch’s U.S. visa was revoked for unknown reasons. The next court date for the couple is Sept. 3 in Monaco. It’s expected that the two will work out custodial decision making in addition to other matters.


Divorce Law LA, Esq.

Divorce Law LA

33 S. Catalina Ave. Ste. 202

Pasadena, Ca. 91106

(626) 478-3550