An International Celebrity Child Custody Battle: Could it Have an Impact on Your New Jersey Child Custody Case?
Kelly Rutherford is an American actress who had starring roles in the hit TV shows “Melrose Place” and “Gossip Girl.” Unfortunately, it is not Rutherford’s acting prowess, but instead her high-profile and extremely contentious international child custody dispute with her ex-husband, German businessman Daniel Giersch, which has recently catapulted her name back into the headlines.
Rutherford and Giersch have two children who are now 8 and 6 years old. Both of the children are American citizens. After their divorce, Rutherford and Giersch shared joint custody of the children in California. However, when Giersch’s U.S. visa was revoked in 2012, a California judge gave Giersch permission to relocate to Monaco with the children temporarily until he could obtain another visa and legally return to the United States. In the interim, Rutherford was ordered to travel to Monaco to exercise parenting time with her children. Though it is now 3 years later, Giersch has allegedly refused to obtain another visa and still resides with the children in Monaco.
Rutherford has been trying for several years to get her children returned to the United States. She recently accused Giersch of refusing to allow her to see the children after she arrived in Europe for parenting time, an allegation which caught the attention of a California judge.
However, due to arguments from Giersch’s attorneys that Rutherford lives in New York, not L.A., and that Monaco is the proper venue for the hearing as it is where the children primarily reside, the judge ruled that California does not have jurisdiction over the case.
Rutherford recently filed a new case in New York, but it is possible that New York will decline to hear the case as well. In any event, Rutherford faces an uphill battle as she will have to prove that a significant change in circumstances warrants modification of the current child custody and parenting time plan.
This case is significant for several reasons. First, according to Rutherford’s attorneys, it is the first time a judge has ordered children who are American citizens to reside outside of this country, a decision which they argue sets a dangerous precedent. Second, the decision of whether the case will be heard in New York or Monaco could set an important precedent on the proper venue for future international child custody disputes. Finally, it will be interesting to see whether Giersch’s failure to obtain a visa and return to the United States will be found to constitute alienation of the children from Rutherford.
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