Kelly Rutherford

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Kelly Rutherford has been granted sole custody of her and ex-husband Daniel Giersch's two children following a legal battle that spanned two continents, paving the way for the kids to return to live with their mother in the United States.

The 46-year-old Gossip Girl alum and her ex, a 41-year-old German businessman, divorced in 2010 and initially shared custody of son Hermes, now 8, and daughter Helena, 5, both American-born. Since 2012, they have been living with their father in Europe. On Friday, a judge granted their mother sole custody. Giersch has not commented.

"We are ecstatic, and hopeful that Monaco will respect the California court's ruling and send the children home," Rutherford's lawyer Wendy Murphy told People magazine on Sunday. "It has long been our position that Monaco has no jurisdiction because Hermes and Helena, as American citizens, have an absolute right to live in their own country."

In April 2012, Giersch's visa was revoked and he was deported, later moving to France and Monaco. Months later, a Los Angeles judge ruled that Rutherford and Giersch would continue to have joint custody, but because he is barred from entering the United States, they must live with him and she can visit them and have them travel to the U.S. to stay with her periodically.

Rutherford appealed the decision. The expense of her ongoing legal battles led her to file for bankruptcy.

The judge had ruled on Friday that a Los Angeles court, not one overseas, will retain "exclusive jurisdiction" over the matter and that "for the purpose of returning the two minor children to the United States, and in particular, to Los Angeles County, [Rutherford] is awarded sole legal and physical custody of the minor children pending further orders of this court", according to court documents posted online by The Krim Group, which connects celebrities with charities and has worked with Rutherford in the past.

The judge stated that the "court is concerned" that Giersch is "alleged to have committed numerous violations" of terms of a previous custody agreement, such failing and refusing to cooperate and provide Rutherford access to the children "to exercise her periods of physical custody...both in France and in the United States," at least twice since October 2014.

In the 2012 ruling, it was stated that the two children's "habitual residence will remain the United States and any foreign travel or stays in other countries will be temporary in nature and not result in a change of either child's habitual residence." The court had ordered Giersch to keep applying for a visa so that he can return to the U.S. with the children. In April 2015, the State Department told ABC News he had not done so.

Kelly Rutherford, Daniel Giersch

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People magazine reported that Rutherford told the outlet that Giersch would not allow her to see their kids after she arrived in France for her latest trip on Thursday unless she gave their U.S. passports to someone his legal team called "a neutral person." She said the individual was one of his lawyers. In Friday's court ruling, the judge said Rutherford will retain possession of the children's U.S. passports.

Daniel's goal is to continue to protect these children and shield them from any media exposure, which is against court order," an attorney for Giersch told E! News on Thursday. "Daniel has taken and will continue to take all necessary security measures to ensure that the children are not wrongfully removed from Europe and remain safe, healthy, happy and protected from any such threats to their safety and well-being."

The judge also wrote that the actress, Giersch or a representative for him and both of their children are ordered to appear at a hearing on June 15.

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