A Timeline of Kelly Rutherford's Six-Year Custody Battle


Soon after actress Kelly Rutherford and and German businessman Daniel Giersch filed for divorce (and months before their second child was even born), a custody battle began. That was 2009, and it’s still going on.

The case, which frequently makes international headlines, is an unpleasant and oddly complicated web of personal allegations and jurisdiction disputes. And the children at its center, Hermes and Helena, can do nothing but obey the near-constant legal decisions forcing them to travel back and forth across the Atlantic.

On Tuesday, they were ordered to leave New York City, Rutherford’s home, and return to their father in Monaco. But why? Below is a timeline that should help you figure this whole mess out. If the past is any indication, we can expect this to last for years to come—so we’ll update it as news breaks.

EARLY 2006

  • Actress Kelly Rutherford becomes pregnant with Hermes. German businessman /entrepreneur Daniel Giersch is the father.

AUGUST, 2006

  • Rutherford and Giersch marry.


  • Hermes is born. He weighs 8.5 lbs.
  • Rutherford says motherhood is “just amazing.”


LATE 2008

  • Rutherford becomes pregnant with Helena. Giersch is the father.


  • Rutherford files for divorce from Giersch citing irreconcilable differences. She seeks “sole physical custody with monitored visitation.”
  • Giersch files for legal separation from Rutherford. He seeks “sole legal and physical custody with visitation for her.”


JANUARY 20, 2009

  • Both Rutherford and Giersch testify in an LA court for “almost two hours.”
  • Rutherford says she “is seeking to take Hermes to New York, where [Gossip Girl] is filmed, until the end of March.” Giersch strongly objects” to the move, and calls her job “detrimental to their son.” Additionally, Giersch “doesn’t feel comfortable” in New York City.
  • Giersch claims Rutherford never allowed him to have overnight visits with Hermes. Rutherford claims he’s lying.



  • Rutherford is interviewed by Life & Style:
We have kids together. We have a beautiful son together. I think we’re both decent people. But sometimes you go through tough times.It’s a challenge, you know? I think everyone goes through it on a certain level. When it’s public, it’s really hard. People say things they don’t mean because they’re upset. I’m hoping we can work it out.

[Perez Hilton]

MAY, 2009

  • Rutherford obtains a temporary restraining order against Giersch, and claims he “has begun to follow me, my mother and my nanny and he shows up unexpectedly to threaten and scare us.”
  • It is revealed that Rutherford’s nanny Michaela Kothanova quit her job because Giersch “unnerved her during custody exchanges.” She also claims “Giersch threatened to sue her after she refused to answer his repeated questions about Rutherford.”
  • Rutherford’s mother alleges similar hostility from Giersch.
  • Giersch denies all the above allegations.
  • Rutherford hires a private investigator “to conduct three days of video surveillance” on Giersch.


JUNE, 2009

  • Rutherford gives birth to Helena. Giersch releases a statement claiming he was not notified.
“Media reports claiming that I neglected to attend my daughter’s birth are total lies and fabrication…I was never informed by Kelly about the birth of our daughter, nor was I invited to attend. In fact, I found out about it through Internet reports like everyone else. Although this sickens me, I am of course overjoyed that our baby was born healthy. I would’ve wanted nothing more than to hold our newborn daughter for a few moments, and I only seek to coparent both our children responsibly and with love.”


APRIL, 2010

  • Rutherford hires Edward Banach, a private investigator, to spy on Giersch.


JUNE 2010

  • Rutherford and Giersch’s divorce is finally made official.


JUNE 2011

  • Rutherford and her two children are spotted playing in NYC. Everyone looks happy.

[Celebrity Baby Scoop] [lol i know]


  • Rutherford’s lawyer contacted the state department and “urged that Giersch be arrested.” From these 2013 court documents:

APRIL, 2012

  • Giersch’s business visa is revoked, and he is barred from entering the U.S. “Nobody knows why,” according to Rutherford and ABC’s legal analyst, Dan Abrams. “The State Department will not comment on the reason for this, only to say it is classified.”
  • Rutherford allegedly accuses Giersch of being an illegal arms and drug dealer. Few details regarding this accusation exist.
  • Rutherford is sued by Edward Banach, the private investigator she hired two years prior.
  • Banach “claims he worked on the case for a couple of months—racking up a total bill of $86,249.85—but only got paid $28,214.35.”

[ABC/TMZ/Daily Mail/People]

MID 2012

  • Giersch takes Helena and Hermes to France. The exact date of this is “unclear,” but Rutherford says it was “the day before school began.”

[Daily Mail/ABC]

AUGUST, 2012

  • A judge gives Giersch full custody of Helena and Hermes.
  • “The court found that Rutherford had not been totally forthcoming about her work schedule and that her fears of Giersch abducting the children had led her to fail to ‘demonstrate the level of commitment to facilitating the relationship (with their father) that would be required of a residential parent in a relocation situation.’”
  • The judge writes: “The best interests of the children will be served because the relocation plan for France is the only plan that offers the possibility of nearly equal parenting time while Giersch can not return to the U.S.”
  • Kelly goes on The View with Dan Abrams and discusses the case with the co-hosts. He says, “Some people are gonna be saying, ‘Come on, she must have done something wrong.’ And that’s what I thought! When I first saw this case, I assumed there’s gotta be something else here…The judge said, again and again, Kelly’s a great parent, he’s a great parent.
  • The court determines they will reassess “whether Giersch can successfully re-enter the U.S. and what’s in the best interest of the children” in two years.
  • Rutherford returns to work on Gossip Girl.

[Daily Mail/Daily Mail/ABC/People] + [PDF of the court’s complete ruling on E!]

JUNE, 2013

  • Rutherford files for bankruptcy after spending “almost $1.5 million on legal fees.”


SUMMER, 2014

  • Rutherford is allowed to have custody of her kids in New York City for two months.
  • Rutherford argues the courts have no right to force them to return to France after those two months, but a judge disagrees.
  • The children are returned to France in August. Rutherford claims they’re being “illegally deported.”


APRIL, 2015

  • Rutherford starts an official White House petition asking President Obama to comment on her custody battle.
  • After receiving the necessary 100,000 signatures, the White House responds: “Your petition raises issues that appear to be the subject of ongoing legal proceedings, and that’s why we’re declining to comment on it.”

[White House]

MAY, 2015

  • A California court grants Rutherford “temporary sole custody” of the two children.


JULY, 2015

  • A Los Angeles Court judge rules “that California does not have jurisdiction over the case anymore.”
  • Rutherford’s attorney “says the New York judge was ‘perplexed’ that California forfeited jurisdiction over the case and that the legal system has ‘caused profound and irreparable harm to Kelly’s children.’”


AUGUST, 2015

  • A judge gives Giersch “the right to keep the 2 children in Monaco, while he works out his residency issues with the U.S.”
  • Giersch’s mother takes the children “from the NYC courthouse.” They are now on their way back to France.


Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Getty.

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