Kelly Rutherford has told HELLO! Online she is "doing everything I can to survive" after losing custody of her two young children to her former husband. The Gossip Girl star's appeal to grant her custody of the children was dismissed in a US court on Thursday, with a judge ruling that they should continue to live with their father Daniel Giersch in France.
The mother-of-two was originally granted shared custody of her eight-year-old son Hermes and five-year-old daughter Helena when she and Daniel split in 2009. However when the German businessman's American Visa was revoked in 2012, a court decided that the children should live in France with him and Kelly should travel there to see them.
The 46-year-old actress was hoping to overcome the ruling and bring her children back to America, but the court argued that it had no jurisdiction to amend the custody agreement.
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Kelly Rutherford has lost her custody battle for her two children
"I feel empty," she said of decision.
"Just because kids don't vote and pay taxes doesn't mean they don't have rights to be raised in their own country," she shares exclusively in a sit-down interview at The Mark Hotel in New York just days after the ruling. "It's a humanitarian issue. It's a constitutional issue."
"It doesn't make sense. How did this even happen," says Kelly. "At the end of the day, I'm a mother and a citizen of this country no matter what I do for a living. What I'm asking for is help."
The actress says she is "doing everything I can to survive" after the court ruling
The actress fears her celebrity status may actually have hurt her in this case. "It's a big misconception especially because of the character I played. Lily van der Woodsen and I had a big difference in money," she explains of her wealthy, entitled Gossip Girl role. "[Daniel] just sued me until I had no more money."
Kelly had to file for bankruptcy and her dwindling funds make it difficult to see her children, she says. "I go to visit them as often as I can afford to go, about once month to every six weeks," she continues, having just returned from seeing them in France a few days before. "The longest I went was eight weeks because I couldn't afford to pay my rent."
Despite her heartbreak, the star's number one priority is her children. "I want my kids to look back on this time and say, 'Thank god mom didn't say horrible things about dad and took the high road,'" she concludes. "Eventually they're going to read about this and I want them to be healthy through this. They look to us to be the rock always and I take that responsibility seriously. Overall they know they're loved."