Kajko, Weisman & Colasanti, LLP

Kelly Rutherford poured her financial life into custody dispute

And, unfortunately, it has resulted in her going bankrupt.

Kelly Rutherford, recognizable by "Gossip Girl" fans in Boston for her role on the popular TV show, filed for bankruptcy because of her debts -- some of which were associated to a protracted child custody case she is dealing with. The actress filed for divorce from her second husband in 2008, but the custody dispute they are entangled in (which involves their two children, aged 4 and 6) is very complicated.

Rutherford lives here in the United States, but her ex-husband, Daniel Giersch, lives in Monaco. He obtained custody through a controversial decision. Though a joint custody arrangement was in place, Giersch was not allowed to enter the U.S. because of visa complications. As a result, the judge handling Rutherford's divorce case decided that their children should stay in Europe, and that Rutherford should travel to go see them. The ruling has been widely criticized, and despite her appeals, the custody arrangement remains. Rutherford has drained her finances travelling and contesting the situation.

There are a couple of things to learn from this story. The first is that child custody cases have a tendency to become complex and messy. Agreeing to joint custody usually prevents this (notwithstanding this extreme case); but if you and your spouse cannot settle on a joint agreement, then you need to prepare a good case for why you deserve sole custody. Show the judge that you are an active part in your child's schooling; bring in witnesses to explain your merits as a mother or father; and generally do everything you can to show why your are the great parent you are.

The other thing to remember is that, sometimes, one of the spouses involved in a divorce will actually try to draw out the divorce. It's a tactic that is rarely well received; but sometimes, it works. The other spouse simply gives up on their demands because of the grind of the divorce and the tactics used by their spouse. Remember: in many cases, one spouse can argue and justify that their ex should have to pay for some (or all) of their legal fees. This can be an effective countermeasure to this tactic.

Source: New York Daily News, "Kelly Rutherford files for bankruptcy after costly divorce, custody battle," Zayda Rivera, June 24, 2013

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