04 July 2013
A Hollywood battle for Child Custody
There are reports this week that Gossip Girl actress Kelly Rutherford is to file for bankruptcy after spending everything she has on the international custody battle with her German ex-partner over where their 2 children will live, and what contact each should have.
The case has been described in numerous sources as “Hollywood’s Ugliest Custody Case” which has been going on in one form or another since 2009.
After an initial decision granting shared residence of the Children, their father was granted permission to relocate with them to Monaco after his visa was revoked, meaning he could no longer remain in or travel to the US. This left Ms Rutherford forced to fly between the US and Monaco to see her children. She has publically expressed disappointment with the court’s decision and concern that the arrangements are not in the best interests of the children.
Leave to Remove cases – where one parent applies to take the child to live abroad – are often difficult, and always raise strong emotions. The law in relation to Leave to Remove cases in England is currently the subject of review, amid criticism that it is “too easy” to take a child away from their home environment and the other parent. Courts do however expect parents to have an extremely detailed plan for the relocation which above all focuses on how the relationship with the “left behind” parent can be maintained and how regular contact can be affected across international boundaries.
Maintaining contact thousands of miles apart often relies on trust, goodwill and co-operation between the parents, and contested litigation can be a very damaging experience – as is reportedly the case in the Rutherford matter. It is also important to remember that money spent on litigation could also be put to better use maintaining international travel once the move takes place. It is therefore important to consider all options for resolving the decision and looking at which will best serve the long-term interests of the family.
By Family Law Solicitor Cara Nuttall
Read more about Child Custody.