Kelly Rutherford Files Emergency Order To Keep Her Children In US


Kelly with her two children

Kelly with her two children


Almost two years ago, just a month before my son was killed as the result of a Family Court disaster, I heard about what happened to Kelly Rutherford’s children.  Reading Kelly’s story terrified me.  Here was a woman who was so successful, someone who most would assume could wield tremendous political power, and someone whose financial success could far rival your average American.  Even with all these things, she still lost her children in what seemed to be one of the most blatant attacks against the civil rights of a child that I had ever seen.  While many people likely went about their day as usual after hearing her story, maybe chalking this up as just another celebrity divorce in the news, I was glued to the news and terrified.  At the time, I was still in Family Court.  I wondered what a decision like this meant for my son’s future, when it was clear that the civil rights of children did not matter at all.

For those who don’t know the story, what it boils down to is that Kelly’s children were forced to leave their country to live in France with their father.  The strange thing about this story is that the children are not French citizens, they are American.  A California judge believed that since their father could no longer return to the United States, due to some sort of attempted visa fraud, they would have to go live with him.  This judge made the decision that their father’s parental rights were more important to the rights of these children to remain in their home country.  What also seemed bizarre was that the judge believed the decision to send the children to France would allow for equal parenting.

There are two reasons I chose to write about this case this week.  One is because Kelly has filed an emergency petition with the US District Court asking the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security for a temporary restraining order to keep her children in the US.  The second is that I believe this case exposes many terrible realities that is exist in our broken Family Court system.

1)  Money Doesn’t Always Mean Power:  Lawyers will eat you alive financially in Family Court.  They will take every penny you have, and the battle will continue until you don’t have two pennies to rub together.  I spent my entire life savings, my entire 401k, and the majority of my salary for 15 months trying to save my son.  Nearly two years after my son has died, I am still paying off the debt I acquired trying to pay attorneys.  Kelly has been very public about how, even though she acquired huge financial success in her acting career, her Family Court battle forced her to file bankruptcy.  The bottom line here is that no matter how wealthy you are, Family Court will ruin you.

2)  Children Are Objects – Not People:  No matter what state you live in, Judges typically like to split children in half.  In many cases, it appears as though the easiest decision is just to tell people to “share” by awarding joint custody.  While this judgement might make perfect sense for parents who live in the same community, and in situations where both parents are healthy and have the best interest of their children at heart, this is not realistic for many families.  If children were viewed as people, vice objects, judges would more often try to make judgements that would be comfortable for the children and not just what is convenient for parents.  For example, in Kelly’s case, since the father couldn’t travel to the US, the judge decided it would be better for the father if the children relocated with him.  The children had been raised in the United States, however, this judge believed it make more sense for the family for the children to be uprooted and moved with their father.

3)  One Size Fits All:  This lesson is similar to the one above.  What I find extremely disappointing about Family Court is that despite the billions of dollars of taxes and family contributions, the court still seems to have an inability to cater decisions.  Sawing children in half never works, however, this is often what happens when you try to apply current laws to “outside the box” cases.  Most divorces and custody conflicts ends with some sort of amicable agreement between two parties.  It is only the most contentious cases that end up in court, and most of the time these cases include someone who intends to legally abuse the other party.  Kelly’s case highlights this “one size fits all” mentality in the court, as it appears here that the judge just tried to force a 50/50 custody situation on two people who weren’t even able to remain in the same country.


Just the other day, when I heard that Kelly had filed an emergency order to try and keep her children in the United States, all the anxiety that I remember from my own Family Court War came rushing back to me.  I remember the panic I felt every time I had to turn my son over for a visit.  I distinctly remember the last night my son was alive.  I was trying to think of a million and one ways to keep him with me the next day instead of sending him for the visit, fully knowing that if I did I would likely get criminally charged for disobeying a court order.

I know there are people who read about Kelly’s story, and think that what she is doing is extreme.  I, however, read her story and see a mother who is willing to fight tooth and nail with every fiber in her body to protect the rights of her children.  She is trying to be a mother, even though her own country has told her she has no right to keep her children safe.  I pray that Attorney General Holder will take notice, and I pray that he will take a stand.  I pray he will stop the injustice that is evident in this case.  I pray he will allow these American citizens to remain in their home country – that he will allow their mother to take care of them.





  1. Ostara on August 14, 2014 at 9:06 am

    I feel for Kelly, what an incredible heartbreak to not have your kids close. However she is not presenting the whole story which is going to make her case all the more difficult. My diagnosed psychopathic ex played the same game as she did. I was in immigration jail because my ex falsely accused me. I was to be deported and would have been ripped from my kids. It meant that for 10 years I would not be able to enter the US and see my girls. After 2 years you can apply for a visa for temporary entry. 99% of these visas are rejected and you have to wait the 10 year term. How did I get out of this? My uncle is the ambassador to the US. He personally used his diplomatic position to get me out and I’m on diplomatic status at the moment.

    As the victim of a strategy simar to what she used, I have some reservations about her. It was a horrid thing to go through. Sadly, I think you will delete my comment.

    • cappuccinoqueen on August 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Ostara, I am not aware of anything that kelly did to get this man deported. I am very sorry for your case though. It sounds like a terrible ordeal.

    • Eagle Eye on September 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Ms. Rutherford had nothing to do with the loss of her ex-husband’s Visa. He is German born and was here on an O-1 Visa for people with “exceptional skills and talents”. Those are notoriously the least stable of all Visas. In fact, Ms. Rutherford’s legal team has been advocating for her ex-husband to receive a new Visa to return to the US in order to clear up this whole debacle. The most confounding part of the case is that neither parent has any connection to France, nor do the children, but the court is ignoring that fact. The State Department, meanwhile, will not disclose the reason for the revocation of the Visa.

  2. Laurie Eagan on August 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Thank you for writing about this. Very well written and I agree. Family Court is the worst place for children. Lawyers will take ALL of your money until you have none left and then take more. No one ever wins. It is all just very sad. I admire your strength for what you have endured and how you have handled it. . Like you, I spent every penny I had and am still paying off debt related to my divorce (7 Years ago) And due to a lawyer who got away with lying to the Judge. My intent always was to do what was best for my then minor son. That was used against me in the end because I avoided having the details of my marriage and why it ended aired in court and what my son had endured through his father’s behavior toward him. My heart goes out to all the children and family’s caught in these situations. There should be an alternative to “Court” for settling domestic, custody, and divorce issues. The only people who come out unscathed are the lawyers.

  3. Jennifer Verraneault on August 19, 2014 at 7:26 am

    My heart aches for this family as it does for all broken families. As an outsider not privy to all details of this case, I don’t understand why having the luxury of living 50% in the states with mom and 50% with dad in France is a disadvantage to young children? I can only imagine how well rounded and worldly these two children will grow up to be with this new family structure. In my opinion, it’s more convenient for parents and family members for everyone to live in the same community and country but when we select a mate to have children with, we have to prepare for the high probability that a separation/divorce will happen. I feel that all these “what ifs” should be discussed and contracted before children are born. It doesn’t seem romantic but we know that we have a 50/50 chance of remaining an intact family so we need to prepare. I am sorry for mom and dad more so the kids because I bet if mom and dad embraced this arrangement, stop fighting and try really had to become amicable co-parents, then their children will be okay.

    • Eagle Eye on September 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      That isn’t the case. The father, who is German and was in the US on an O-1 Visa which was revoked by the State Department, was given full custody of the children in France. Neither the parents nor children have links to France. Ms. Rutherford is required to go to France for her twice-monthly visitation because she cannot remove them from the US and the father is not legally allowed to enter the US since his Visa was revoked. Ms. Rutherford has maintained that she has attempted to secure a local co-parenting relationship, and her attorneys have even advocated for her ex-husband to have his Visa reinstated so he can return to the US. This is the brokenness of the system.

  4. madgamma on September 10, 2014 at 8:18 am

    “If you just embrace the arrangement given by the court, stop fighting and try to coparent amicably the children will be okay.” This was the same sentiment we received from our family court encounter. Our baby wasn’t so lucky. He was killed on the 4th unsupervised visit after this grand determination by the courts in montgomery county , maryland. I have never had to deal with the courts in any capacity before our recent situation. I found the experience utterly disgusting and abusive. Couples who actually go to trial usually have a component of mental illness in one of the parents. If the courts actually cared about the children they would make sure both parents go thru a forensic psych exam with a psychologist chosen by the court . American children shouldn’t be forced to live with a parent outside of their country. The judge who made this determination is a moron.