When Mom Loses Custody

GEO CASUALNow that most North American courts are truly focusing on a child’s best interests, and not just slavishly awarding custody of young children to moms, many mothers are experiencing what dads have faced for decades. Life without Jimmy and Susie…

A case in point is the situation that American actress, Kelly Rutherford, found herself in after her two-year marriage to husband Daniel Giersch collapsed in 2009. Star of television’s Gossip Girl, Ms. Rutherford engaged in a lengthy, tortuous custody battle with the father of their two children, Hermes and Helena, who are now six and three-years old.

From the get-go it was as ugly as can be, with mean-spirited, nasty allegations tossed about for the Hollywood media to lap up. He asserted that her life was not focused on the kids, but on spa appointments, shopping excursions and her career, while she accused Giersch of dealing in drugs and weapons in South America.

Ultimately, Ms. Rutherford’s allegations backfired. Mr. Giersch, as a citizen of France, had no legal status in the United States and some media reported that his wife’s unproven complaints stymied any chance Giersch had of remaining in America after his visa was revoked.

At the end of the battle, Giersch was awarded custody of both children who now live with him in France. Ms. Rutherford was awarded access to her children with the proviso that she pay all the costs of visiting them in France. It is reported that to date she has made over 40 trips.

The financial aftermath of her court battle and access costs has led Ms. Rutherford to file for bankruptcy. Despite earning $486,000 a month from her work on Gossip Girl, she has virtually no assets and debt of more than $2 million dollars. The cancellation of Gossip Girl is another setback for the star.

And she has apparently not abandoned her quest for custody of the children. Having spent $1.5 million in legal and related fees, she is now living for free with friends in New York as she continues to battle her ex.

She recently remarked:

“Having to peel my son off my body, screaming, “Mama, save me!” when I had to give him to his father—not because he doesn’t love his dad, but because he’s too young and it was like a forced thing.”

While women have righteously sought gender equality for years, it may be that in this case Ms. Rutherford would rather have the old rules apply.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

No “Au Revoir” for Halle Berry

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry will not be allowed to move permanently to France with her four-year-old daughter Nahla Ariela Aubry, a ruling made on Friday by a California judge. Nahla’s father, Gabriel Aubry is a Canadian actor and model who lives and works in Los Angeles.

Ms. Berry has battled Nahla’s father since the couple separated in 2010, pulling out the usual grab-bag of custody tricks, including her refusal to pay child support to him, later rectified by a judge who ordered that she pay $20,000 to Mr. Aubry as a joint custodial parent. There was also a failed attempt to suggest that Mr. Aubry has been “physical” with Nahla’s nanny. After a complete investigation, accompanied by a period of supervised access for Mr. Aubry, the allegations were thrown out.

When a parent applies to the court to move permanently with a child to a jurisdiction far away from home and the child’s other parent, there are a number of considerations that come into play. Is the move in the child’s best interests? The factors include:

1. Will the child be able to maintain a relationship with the left-behind parent?
2. Will the quality of the relationship with the left-behind parent be sufficient to continue the parental bond?
3. How far will the child and left-behind parent have to travel to maintain their relationship?
4. How much will it cost for the left-behind parent to travel to visit the child and who will pay the expenses?
5. Will the change in the child’s permanent residence impact on the involvement of extended family in the child’s life, such as maternal and paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins?
6. Will the move enhance the child and moving parent’s quality of life in regards to better opportunities for financial security?
7. Is the motive for the move an attempt to minimize parenting time to the other parent?

Ms. Berry’s rationale for the move is that she did not want her daughter growing up around paparazzi and the tabloids, arguing that she could provide more privacy, and a greater sense of security for her daughter in France, where coincidentally, her latest boyfriend lives.

Ms. Berry must have forgotten that Princess Diana’s death was attributed to overzealous paparazzi in Paris and that Kate Middleton’s recent nude photos were taken in France, by a local celebrity photographer. I’m sure Mr. Aubry’s lawyer remembered.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Halle Berry’s Custody Tactics Bring Out Her Dark Side

If ever there was a primer on how parents should not deal with child custody, Halle Berry and her former common-law spouse, Gabriel Aubry, are in the running for first prize, albeit Aubry appears to be a coerced participant in the fight over their four-year-old daughter, Nahla Ariela Aubry.

The obvious question is how can a woman who is so beautiful on the outside, be so scheming and vindictive on the inside? Yes, Halle Berry fans…that’s how it appears to me, and I bet she is just livid that she agreed to use Aubry’s surname for her daughter when they were still in the throes of love.

Halle Berry’s litigation tactics are “classic” in high-conflict custody cases, and that’s part of
her problem. Most judges have not just fallen off the turnip truck, they have seen it all.

At the time of their uncoupling Halle raved that Aubry was as an “amazing” father and the three of them “were going to be together forever”. But since she connected with serial philanderer and sometime actor Olivier Martinez she’s abandoned her earlier sentiment. Or was it Aubry’s short fling with Kim Kardashian that changed her mind?

For someone who says she only wants to protect her daughter, she has an odd way of going about it. She has desperately tried to remove Aubry from Nahla’s life, with little success. She resisted paying him reasonable child support, even though they share custody. In a drawn out court battle, Ms. Berry was ordered to pay Aubry $20,000 per month.

She must have felt happily triumphant when Nahla’s nanny accused Mr. Aubry of pushing her while she held Nahla. Aubry was relegated to supervised access and no overnight parenting time for a while, but after a thorough child protection investigation by California authorities, he was completely cleared.

Her latest ploy is to convince the Court that it is in Nahla’s best interests to move with her to France with her fiance, Olivier Martinez. Her reasons? She says she is being stalked in California. I guess she was really p-o’d when she recently learned that mental patient Robert Dewey Hoskins, who also harassed Madonna, was arrested and recommitted to a locked psychiatric facility.

She is also urging the Court to favourably consider her pending nuptials with Martinez and the new family she has created. As far as any stability as a result of her relationship with Martinez, I am very skeptical.

If Berry actually marries Martinez, it will be her third marriage. Mr. Martinez has never been married and no wonder….His flings usually are of short duration, from one-night hook-ups to four years. He has bedded model Rosie Huntington Whitley, singer Kylie Minogue, model Sara Givati, actress Michelle Rodriguez, actress Mira Sorvino, actress Juliet Binoche and actress Goya Toledo.

But what is going to really sink Halle’s ship is the expert report before the Court that warns the judge that separating Nahla from her very-involved father will be detrimental to her well-being.

I still don’t get it…when will mothers learn they don’t “own” their children?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang