When Kelly Rutherford met Daniel Giersch she was a successful actress in her mid-thirties and ready to start a family. Daniel, who is six years her junior, was a seemingly successful and ambitious young businessman, charming and good looking. Within two months of dating her Kelly was pregnant with their first child.
They married in August 2006 and one wonders what the hurry might have been. Nowadays there’s no reason to get married to have children. The two had barely been together let alone known each other for a year. Whilst it was too early to have a child together, a wedding was certainly not necessary at this point.
Their son was born in November, but his parent’s relationship was not a happy one. In a lengthy piece in Vanity Fair Daniel is described as subtly manipulative, verbally abusive and controlling. Apparently he was perceived as such by Kelly’s friends and family and he seemed cold. It doesn’t sound as if he made friends with her family and he allegedly even tried to keep her away from everyone she knew.
But Kelly was happy with her son, who was her everything and despite the strange relationship she haad with Daniel, she became pregnant again in about September 2008.
Only three months later she filed for divorce from her husband, asking for sole custody with monitored visitation for him. Daniel on the other hand filed for legal separation and also asked for sole custody and visitation for Kelly.
What followed is a custody battle of epic proportions in which Kelly has made just about every tactical mistake that she could have made.
For most of their divorce proceedings the two fought over custody. Kelly gave birth to their daughter in June 2009. Whilst it is understandable that she didn’t want her estranged husband there with her, he alleged that he was not even notified of the birth and was not given a chance to see their daughter. What’s worse: Kelly decided to omit his name from the birth certificate.
Over the course of the next few years Kelly did everything to discredit Daniel’s standing as a father, to keep the children to herself and not let them anywhere close to their father or allow him the rights of a father.
Whilst their divorce was finalized in June 2010, the custody battle continued.
Ultimately Daniel’s visa was revoked, though the reasons remain confidential, he could no longer attend proceedings in person and had to be broadcasted into the courtroom in California via video feed.
The fact that he was forced to leave, a situation Kelly’s legal team may have had a hand in, made things only worse.
When the judge decided in 2012 to award full custody to Daniel Giersch it meant that the children would leave the US to live with their father in Monaco.
The decision was exceedingly controversial not just because the children were US citizens. Daniel was barred from entering the US, at least so he claimed, which made it impossible for him to visit the children in the US. Kelly, however, was free to see them in Monaco. The judge even made a provision that Daniel had to pay for some of the flights to enable her to come. He was the millionaire, after all.
But the ultimate reason for the judge to give custody to Daniel was the fact that he had always shown willingness to enable the children to have a healthy relationship with their mother. Kelly on the other hand had done everything in her power to prevent the children from having a relationship to their father.
Kelly has sabotaged herself at every turn leading up to the verdict, but has not helped herself since then either. Due to the money spent on lawyers and flights to Europe Kelly had to declare bankruptcy in 2013. She has since recovered somewhat and is a working actress once more, but she continued to make mistakes regarding the custody arrangements.
The children were allowed to fly to the US to spend part of their holidays with their mother. Whilst not an ideal arrangement, at least Daniel certainly didn’t seem to have a desire to keep the children from their mother. But the last time Kelly had the children, the California court decided to back off the case and declared that they no longer had jurisdiction. New York, where Kelly lived, was surprised by the move, but did not pick up the case either.
Thus Kelly decided to keep the children, fearing that she would never see them again, if she returned them to their father. Tragically, it was that move that resulted in her losing any chance of ever regaining custody of her children.
She was ordered to return them immediately, because her move constituted as child abduction. Any further visits of the children to the US were discontinued and Kelly now only gets supervised visitation with her kids in Europe.
She has seen them since that incident in the summer last year. But nobody will now pick up the case on her behalf. She can’t really afford a lawyer anyway, since she has not sufficiently recovered financially.
In all this we don’t truly know how the children feel. It seems they have been set up for a ruined childhood, being subject to a tug of war across the Atlantic.
Daniel Giersch is not a likable man. There are some odd stories regarding his business acumen out there and how he likes to make a fortune suing people. But one can’t really fault him in how he conducted himself in this case, legally speaking anyway, especially since he never intended to keep Kelly away from her children.