Rutherford is best known for her roles on TV's "Melrose Palce" and "Gossip Girl."
TMZ said the actress' financial troubles are directly related to her legal battle with her ex-husband, German businessman Daniel Giersch.
The bankruptcy documents Rutherford filed say she spent almost $1.5 million on lawyers' fees, owes $350,000 in income taxes for 2012 and has an American Express bill of $25,251 while her current monthly income is $1,279.33, TMZ said.
Rutherford has been trying to win back custody of her children -- 5-year-old Hermes and 3-year-old Helena -- since a judge ruled last August they should live with her ex-husband in France, where he moved after being barred from the United States due to a revoked visa.
"I'm just looking forward to them coming home at some point soon," the actress told Us Weekly last month. "They're U.S. citizens who were sent to a foreign country that neither their father nor I have any connection to. I think the whole thing is bizarre."
Rutherford and Giersch divorced in 2009 after two years of marriage.