Joint custody generally is not such a big deal when a couple splits. It just means that the parents will have to see one another when the kids go from one parent to the other. But what if the other parent is in another state, or even another country?
This is what's happened to "Gossip Girl" star Kelly Rutherford. A court has ruled that her ex-husband Daniel Gersch can have joint custody of their 3- and 5-year-old children, keeping them 50% of the time in France where he lives, according to TMZ. The judge said that Rutherford's schedule was flexible enough that she could find the time to go visit her kids while they are in France.
What goes into a court's decision to allow joint custody when one parent is out of state?
Child custody issues can be decided by the parents outside of court. But if the parents don't agree, then a court must make a decision.
Courts base their custody decisions on the best interests of the child. They look at factors like whether the child was abused, the child's housing situation, the health of the parents, and the need for a stable home environment, among others.
In general, when one parent moves out of state and wants to take his children with him, the other parent must first give consent. Even with consent, a court usually must re-determine what sort of custody the parents will have. Part of this determination can include an order to split the costs of travel for visitation between the two parents.
In "Gossip Girl" star Kelly Rutherford's child custody case, there must have been some precedent that the two parents traveled often, or some other consideration that would allow kids to be bounced from continent to continent. It could just be that both parents are fabulously wealthy, and their children have stable home environments in both France and the United States. Rutherford and Giersch's kids have been living with Giersch in France since May.
Kelly Rutherford was reportedly devastated by the international custody ruling, according to TMZ. The 43-year-old actress plans to appeal.
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