Will Hart/NBC(LOS ANGELES) — Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Juhas ruled Thursday that California doesn’t have jurisdiction in actress Kelly Rutherford’s lengthy custody battle, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.
The Gossip Girl star, 46, has been fighting to regain custody of her two children — son Hermes, 8, and daughter Helena, 6 — who have been living with their father in Monaco since 2013.
“Given the fact that the children have only spent approximately one week in California in over two years, if these children have any connection to California, it is tenuous at best,” he ruled. “The court does not believe that it is obligated to relinquish jurisdiction to Monaco, only that it acknowledge that it no longer has jurisdiction over the children.”
In 2012, Rutherford and Giersch had a joint custody arrangement when Giersch lost his U.S. visa and a California judge ruled that the two children should stay with him in Europe. About three years later, this past April, a judge in the U.S. Federal Court in New York denied Rutherford’s request to bring the children back to the U.S, a ruling she has appealed.
Rutherford’s California attorney, David Glass, who argued that his client has business and family ties to California, told ABC News he and his client “are extremely disappointed” by the ruling.
“This court set up the current situation whereby my client was forced to live bi-coastally, but now, the court appears to be holding it against her,” Glass said. “Likewise, the court created the situation whereby the children would lose their connections to California, and despite the judgment’s language precluding the passage of time from creating new jurisdiction, that is exactly what has happened.”
The actress began this custody battle after Giersch’s visa was revoked in 2012 and he was not able to re-enter the U.S. A California judge then sent her children to live abroad with their father so they would live in one location. Rutherford was never accused of any wrongdoing.
ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams said the new ruling puts Rutherford in a legal bind. Now, there is no court in the U.S. that has jurisdiction, Abrams said. He added that he doesn’t know what Rutherford will do next, but that she can potentially appeal the California ruling. He said there is no precedent for a case like this.
“There’s never been another case where one parent was refused access to the country and, as a result, the children in custody were sent to live with that parent,” he said.
Up until this summer, Rutherford had been traveling overseas to see her children.
“I can sit here and tell you how often I cry,” she told Good Morning America earlier this year. “I can tell you how it feels to leave my kids in a foreign country…to see them after not seeing them for weeks on end.”
Giersch’s attorney, Fahi Takesh Hallin, told ABC News in a statement, “Daniel will continue to promote Kelly’s relationship with the children. He believes that the children deserve to love both parents and has never nor does he intend to ever participate in any negative press directed at Kelly. As always, Daniel will continue to guard the privacy of the children, in their best interests and for their safety.”
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