Actress Kelly Rutherford is "hanging on by a thread" financially as she continues to fight to win back custody of her two young children with her ex-husband.
The Gossip Girl star has been having to fly back and forth between her native U.S. and her kids' new base in France after a California judge ruled last August (12) that her six-year-old son Hermes and three-year-old daughter Helena could remain in Europe with their father, German businessman Daniel Giersch, following a 2012 summer break there.
Rutherford reveals she has since made 40 trips across the Atlantic to spend time with her children, and claims the emotional toll the custody battle is having on the youngsters is painfully clear.
She tells U.S. talk show host Katie Couric, "The burdon has basically been put on me to go and see my children. I've had to fly 40 times to go and see them. I stay in a hotel; I see them, it's like a weird situation, you know, to be taken away from their friends and their family and everything they know...
"They go from being completely emotionally shut down, just to survive it I think, to complete emotion and distraught... I just tell them, 'Look, enjoy this time, enjoy this moment'. I try to make it as if it's normal somehow, so that they can emotionally feel confident. I say, 'Look, mummy's here.' I tell them, 'Enjoy this time with your dad now because this may change, we don't know. Just enjoy it.'"
The actress insists she still cannot understand why Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Beaudet would have sided with Giersch, especially as his visa to remain in the U.S. was revoked for reasons even Rutherford does not know.
And the star, who has shot just one other project since Gossip Girl ended last year (12), admits the pricey flights, coupled with her legal fees, are costing her dear, but she refuses to consider moving to Europe to be close to her children: "I feel like I'm always on a plane. The stewardesses know me; they offer me tickets because they feel so bad... But for me to move there (to France), it's almost like saying, 'I give up', so the judge is now deporting me and my two children because there's a man who the U.S. found unfit to be in our country? ...(Financially) I'm hanging on by a thread."
Rutherford is now having to wait until September (13) for her next court hearing into the custody dispute.