Kelly Rutherford won't return her kids to her ex-husband in Monaco

Kelly Rutherford is refusing to send her children back to Monaco. Her decision is the latest in a confusing and heartbreaking 6-year international custody battle with ex-husband Daniel Giersch, which has involved courts in New York, California and Monaco and even a White House petition. After spending part of their summer holidays in the U.S. with their mother, Hermes, 8, and Helena, 6, were supposed to fly back to Europe to be returned to their father on Thursday.

Instead, Kelly, 46, has kept the children with her and released a statement reinforcing her plea for the custody of the children:

"These past three years waiting for my children to come home have been very difficult. My children were forced to leave the United States in 2012 when they were only two and five years old."

Kelly Rutherford was due to return her children back to their father last week Photo: Getty Images

"In May, a judge in California gave me sole custody and brought them home," she added. "I am immensely grateful and overjoyed to have them back. Since May, however, the court proceedings have been confusing.

"My ex-husband recently filed for sole custody in Monaco after causing my children to be declared 'habitual residents' there, even though he agreed with California in 2012 that the children's time in France and Monaco would be temporary, and that the children would retain exclusive citizenship and residency in the United States.

"I trusted my ex-husband's agreement, and cannot now send them away in light of the legal actions taken in Monaco in violation of that agreement by my ex-husband."

The Gossip Girl star and her ex-husband Daniel Giersch, pictured in 2007 with Hermes, divorced in 2010 Photo: Getty Images

The Gossip Girl star and her ex-husband were married for four years but split in 2010 when she was pregnant with Helena. The pair have been battling for custody ever since.

Eventually a California judge ordered their two children to live with their father in France. Daniel was denied re-entry to the United States after his visa was revoked for unknown reasons. Due to the court-mandated arrangement, Kelly had to travel to Europe to see her children and declared bankruptcy due to the expense.

After Kelly announced last week that she was keeping the children with her, Daniel's lawyer, released a statement to E! News explaining that the children were due back in France on August 7 and that Kelly's actions amount to kidnapping.

"Daniel will continue to protect the children from any harm and any media exposure," L.A.-based attorney Fahi Takesh Hallin wrote. "He will make sure that the children's safety and well being will be restored as soon as possible. He is very concerned about the traumatic impact that Kelly's behaviour will have on the children.

"Child abduction is a crime, and everyone involved in kidnapping or abducting the children will face the appropriate legal consequences. Anyone associating themselves with Kelly and her abduction is violating the law."

One of Kelly's lawyers, Wendy Murphy, then issued a statement in response, which she provided to HELLO!. It reads, in part:

"It's curious that the children's father would make cruel threats and derogatory remarks rather than refusing to respond to the very simple statement we released last week explaining why the children are entitled to reside in their own country."

"Mr. Giersch made an agreement with Kelly and the American courts in 2012 that the children would live abroad with him only temporarily while he resolved his U.S. work visa issues. He did nothing to address his visa problems, and three years is exceedingly not temporary.

Murphy's statement went on to say that Giersch "can come to America on his German passport and visit the children here, just as Kelly has traveled back and forth to Europe on her U.S. passport to visit the children there for the past three years.

"Kelly and the children have been very patient with Mr. Giersch. He should do the right thing, honor his agreement, and protect the children from the trauma of needless litigation."

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