The Complications of International Custody Disputes

The media has recently focused on an international custody dispute involving actress Kelly Rutherford and her former husband Daniel Giersch after Rutherford was ordered by a New York judge to return her two children to Monaco, where Giersch resides.

Giersch and Rutherford filed for divorce in 2008, and have been involved in a custody dispute ever since a 2012  California court ordered the children shall primarily reside with Giersch in Monaco after Giersch’s United States’ Visa expired, and shall visit Rutherford in the summers in New York, with Rutherford having the ability to exercise timesharing with the children in Monaco.

Per that California court order, Rutherford was to return the children to Monaco in early August 2015 and failed to do so, at which time Giersch filed in the New York Court seeking a Writ of Habeas Corpus for the immediate return of the children to Monaco.  On August 11th a New York judge chastised Rutherford for disobeying the court order and ordered the children be immediately returned to Monaco, with Giersch’s mother accompanying the children on the flight from New York.

Further complicating matters for Rutherford and Giersch are the multiple jurisdictions involved in the case at the present time. Rutherford previously attempted in July 2015 to have the California court reconsider the 2012 order allowing the children to primarily reside in Monaco, but the California court responded it no longer has jurisdiction over the case to modify its own order since Giersch has instituted custody proceedings in his primary residence of Monaco and because the California court now considers Rutherford a New York resident, despite Rutherford’s argument to the contrary.  The proceedings will likely now continue with jurisdiction battles between the parties in both Monaco and in New York.

In Florida, when dissolution or paternity proceedings are commenced involving minor children, often times a Florida court will enter a temporary order restraining either party from relocating a child outside of the United States during the proceedings, and a party would usually need to seek the permission of the court to allow a temporary or permanent relocation of the minor children, even for short-term vacation purposes.  The Florida court will also make a determination as to whether it is considered the “home state” of the minor children and/or the parents for purposes of ensuring the Florida court has jurisdiction to make timesharing and parental responsibility decisions for the minor children.

If you have questions regarding the proper jurisdiction for your case, or questions related to timesharing and parental responsibility of minor children, contact our office for further information.

(Author’s note:  In Florida family court proceedings, “timesharing” has replaced terms like “custody” and “visitation” pursuant to legislation passed in Florida in 2011.   However, many other states as well as the media still use the terms custody and visitation.)

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *