Kelly Rutherford calls for change with her Children’s Justice Campaign.
By Anika Reed
Actress Kelly Rutherford, best known for her role as matriarch Lily van der Woodsen on the hit CW show “Gossip Girl,” has been embroiled in real-life parental drama that rivals that on the show. The 44-year-old star is in an international custody battle with her ex-husband, German businessman Daniel Giersch.
Rutherford spoke June 25 on a panel convened by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) about custody disputes and the rights of parents whose children have been taken through international parental abduction.
The seven-year dispute over their two children, Hermes, 8, and Helena, 6, stems from Rutherford’s desire to have the kids back on U.S. soil, rather than where they currently live in Monaco with their father.
Since the children moved to France, Rutherford has flown there approximately 70 times, and declared bankruptcy due to legal fees and the cost of plane tickets.
Rutherford took to the Capitol on behalf of the Children’s Justice Campaign, an organization she founded to bring awareness to international custody issues similar to her own.
“I felt very alone in the beginning of this process, for most of this process, until I realized it was happening to a lot of other people,” Rutherford said. “Ultimately, it’s about the children, and the focus needs to be on the children [and] their rights.”
The bipartisan briefing focused on the experiences of Rutherford and other mothers, and featured appearances from Reps. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Ted Lieu (D-CA). The congressmen championed for legislation to combat “legal kidnapping,” and congratulated Rutherford on her win in Monaco courts to have her children stateside for the summer.
Despite the somber tone of the briefing, Rutherford immediately perked up when talking about her kids’ homecoming.
“We’re just going to have fun,” Rutherford said. “The kids get up every morning and really decide what they’re going to do.”
“We go to Central Park, we have a lot of play dates, sometimes we go to the Hamptons for the weekend,” Rutherford said.
The chic TV mom related being a parent on the show to parenthood in her personal life.
“I think my mom was 19 when she had me,” Rutherford said. “I think I played a character more like my mother on ‘Gossip Girl,’ and in real life I waited to have kids until I was 38, because I really wanted to get everything out of the way so I could really be there for my kids and focus on my kids.”
Rutherford has been vocal in the media about her custody issues, but said she ultimately wants to co-parent and find fairness with her kids and her ex.
“I would just be happy to see them back mostly in the U.S. He can come here and I can take them there, and we can work something out where it’s just more fair…whatever that looks like at this point.”