According to a widely publicized national news story, former Gossip Girl star Kelly Rutherford has been in a protracted battle with her ex-husband over the custody of their two children, now ages eight and five. She lives in California, and he lives in France. In 2012, a California judge ruled that the children would live with their father in Europe because his visa had expired and he was not permitted to travel to the United States. At the time, the court reasoned that there was no other way for the father to see his children.
This past April, Rutherford petitioned the Obama Administration to return her children to the United States. The petition, containing more than 118,000 signatures, stated that when her children were five and two years old, respectively, a California judge forced them to live in France with their father, despite the fact that the children’s court-appointed counsel said that they should stay in the U.S. The petition further disputed the father’s assertions that he was ever denied entry to this country. According to another news article, in a turn of events, a Los Angeles court recently confirmed its continuing jurisdiction over the custody issue and ruled that the children be brought back to the U.S. The court essentially granted Rutherford temporary sole custody of the children. She had argued that her ex-husband was refusing to allow her to see the children in accordance with the custody order. There is some speculation as to whether the father will heed the order and bring the children back for the next court hearing on June 15. It will be interesting to see how the court ultimately rules in this case.
If one parent fails to comply with a custody order in Maryland, courts would have the authority to enforce the order. Under Maryland law, once a court prepares a custody order or signs off on an arrangement stipulated to by the parties, the order has the full force of the law. Any unjustifiable denial or interference with court-ordered custody could result in the court ordering make-up time or modification of the existing order to ensure future compliance. The court can also assess attorney’s fees and costs against the offending party.
Maryland courts are guided by state law when making child custody determinations. Parties to these disputes are encouraged to know and understand their rights under these local laws. Anthony A. Fatemi is a Maryland family law attorney with experience representing parties in divorce and related child custody matters. For representation and legal guidance, you can contact Mr. Fatemi at (888) 519-2801 or (301) 519-2801.
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