Kelly Rutherford on Her Custody Battle: “How Do You Get Those Years Back?”

Kelly Rutherford and daughter Helena Grace
Kelly Rutherford is still fighting for custody of her two kids, Hermes and Helena.  Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Since she filed for divorce in 2008, Kelly Rutherford has been fighting a brutal custody battle with her ex-husband Daniel Giersch. Profiled in a new Vanity Fair feature, the Gossip Girl alum, 46, broke down the lengthy and excruciating details of how her children — Hermes, 8, and Helena, 6 — ended up living in Monaco with their German businessman father. 

"Daniel was subtly verbally abusive," she claimed of her ex-husband, 41. "He was trying to alienate me from everyone in my life—my parents, my brother. I didn’t want any money from Daniel. I wanted us both to be great parents. I wasn’t asking for full custody."

Rutherford filed for divorce in December 2008, when she was three months pregnant with Helena. 

"Divorce is a total racket — let’s call it what it is," the actress told Vanity Fair. "Everyone's making tons of money off of stupid people who don’t settle out of court… And for somebody like my ex-husband, [who has] unlimited funds, who sued Google, this is just his sort of side fun project."

Rutherford, on the other hand, was forced to declare bankruptcy in May 2013 after seven years of lawyers' fees, which reportedly totaled around $1.5 million. 

Kelly Rutherford and Daniel Giersch in 2006
Kelly Rutherford and Daniel Giersch in 2006 J. Sciulli/

"I sold everything — every stock, everything I owned," she says. "I went through my pension; I was living in my friend's maid’s room. My family helped me, but they said, 'You can't keep this up, Kelly. Nobody’s gonna keep up with it. It's a money pit.'"

In August, after spending several weeks with her kids in New York City, Rutherford was ordered by a judge to send her children back to Monaco to be with their father. After briefly fighting the decision due to confusion over jurisdiction, Rutherford put the kids on the plane — but the battle is far from over. 

"My children and I have lost years of dailiness. How do you get those years back?" Rutherford said in her Vanity Fair interview. "There is no way I am not going to fight to get my children back."

Her on-screen stepson and real-life friend Ed Westwick, who played playboy Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl, also spoke to Vanity Fair on Rutherford's behalf. 

"She was amazing and caring to her children," Westwick said after seeing her on set with Hermes and Helena early on. "She was how you would want your ideal mother to be. Most of the rest of us were teenagers and she was like our mother." 

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