The judge in Kelly Rutherford's custody trial just doesn't trust her -- claiming she has repeatedly tried to cut her ex-husband out of their children's lives ... which is why the judge ruled in favor of daddy.
In his decision, obtained by TMZ, the judge chose to make Kelly's ex Daniel Giersch the "residential parent" because "Daniel (who lives in France) has facilitated the relationship of the children with Kelly ... and Kelly simply has not done so."
One glaring example -- the judge says Kelly continually failed to put Daniel's name on their daughter's birth certificate ... despite being asked several times by the court.
The judge writes, "Even while under the scrutiny of an extended trial, Kelly still has declined to demonstrate the level of commitment to facilitating the relationship that would be required of a residential parent in a relocation situation."
As we reported, Kelly gets the kids (aged 5 and 3) 50% of the time under the new arrangement, but the children will live and go to school in France because Daniel can't return to the U.S. due to a revoked visa. Bottom line, Kelly will be spending a lot of time on a plane.
As for the details of the new custody plan -- Daniel has to buy Kelly six round-trip airline tickets to France per school year (coach class) ... and put her up in a house with a car while she's in the country.
A rep for Kelly tells TMZ, "Rewarding someone who has been banished from this country and is prohibited from stepping foot in this country with custody of American citizen children makes no earthly sense to anyone with a basic understanding of the law."
It's worth noting, the custody arrangement could eventually shift back to the U.S. if Daniel fixes his visa issues. Kelly plans to appeal the ruling tomorrow.