Sometimes a child custody battle is bitterly fought, and nowhere is this more evident than in Hollywood.
An international child custody battle was fought between US actress Kelly Rutherford and her ex-husband, who lived in Monaco. Rutherford filed for divorce from Daniel Giersch in 2008 and the battle over the custody of the children, aged 8 and 6, began immediately.
When Giersch’s visa expired, he moved back to Monaco and the immediate question of whom the children would live with arose. Giersch wanted them to live in Monaco and Rutherford wanted them to live in the United States. In 2012, a California judge ordered the children live in Monaco and spend their summers in the United States. Rutherford has since been fighting to have the children moved back to the United States, but was denied by the court in both California and New York who say they no longer have jurisdiction over the case.
Rutherford directly disobeyed a Monaco court order when she announced she would not fly the children back to Monaco at the end of the northern hemisphere summer. Her ex-husband Giersch accused the actress of kidnapping the children and launched legal action. A New York Supreme Court judge ruled this week that Rutherford must comply with the Monaco court order and return the children to Monaco immediately.
The latest ruling in this six-year custody battle between the former “Gossip Girl” actress and ex-husband came in late November when a Monaco judge gave him full custody. The children had been living in Monaco with Giersch since 2012 and coming to the United States for visits with Rutherford.
International child custody disputes are complex and harrowing, often drawn-out affairs. Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention. The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multilateral treaty in force between Australia and a number of other countries. It provides a lawful procedure for seeking the return of abducted children to their home country. It also provides assistance to parents to obtain contact or access to children overseas.
Closer to home, in 2012 four children brought to Australia by their mother were forced to return to their father in Italy. The father applied under the conditions of the Hague Convention, alleging that his daughters had been taken from Italy to move to Australia against his wishes. He won the case, and the children were returned to Italy.
It is against the law to take children to another state or country without the consent of the other parent. If your former spouse has done this, we can assist in making an urgent application to the Court for a Location and Recovery Order. This is where the Court makes orders which enable you not only to locate your child or children but also to enable you to secure their return to you.
Tips When In A Custody Battle
In most cases, parents can sort out their parenting differences before attending court, however, this is not always the case. You may find yourself in a custody battle of custody and be unable to agree on a parenting arrangement. We have compiled a list to hopefully ensure you manage this potential minefield.
First, try your hardest not to involve the children in the battle. The disputes should be handled by the adults, and the details should not be revealed to the children. Of course, a child may know that you are attending court to discuss where they may live, but telling your child things to turn them against the other parent is highly inappropriate. It is thought that this is one reason Kelly Rutherford was not granted custody of her children. Rutherford, by all accounts, started losing her fight for custody the moment she started interfering with dad’s relationship and access. Secondly, manipulating the children will definitely not look good in court. The judge will want to decide living arrangements based on what is best for the child, not what you think is best.
Your ex may not respond well to the custody battle, but you can control how you behave. The ex may be manipulating your children and make false accusations, but you should never react emotionally. Discuss your moves with your lawyer and keep a cool head while in and out of court. Choose a lawyer who you trust – you should be able to communicate your needs and wants and allow your lawyer to do their job. Taking matters into your own hands is not recommended.
Last, create a parenting plan. You and your ex should both create plans and then discuss them together. There may be things about yours that your ex doesn’t like or you may not agree completely with theirs. Then, create one together with the help of lawyers and mediation. It is necessary to attend mediation before going to court, and it’s far less costly and draining to agree on parenting arrangements without having to attend court.
If there is a risk that your child or children may be snatched and taken overseas, we can help you lodge a child airport alert with the Australian Federal Police. If you are having any other issues with child custody, contact us today for your FREE 10-minute phone consultation for any matter relating to family law.