QuestionMy wife is in the Ukraine with our two children. She has decided to seek divorce. We have been married since 2000. I have been unable to find a lawyer in the Ukraine. I want to make sure that she keeps her promise and she said that we will have dual custody, I will be able to travel with the children to the USA and back without her, she will not change their citizenship from Americans to Ukrainian. She only wants child support. I want to insure that this happens but I am scared that she will need me to sign a document in Russian and I told her I would not. I also want to insure that if one or both children want to stay with me in the USA that it will be permitted once they turn the proper age that they can make that call. I don't know what else I should ask for and I need help on this. My wife is already romantically and sexually involved with someone and she wants this to happen soon.
AnswerThere is no such concept as custody in the Ukrainian laws. According to the Ukrainian laws both parents are entitled to bring their minor children unless one of them was deprived of his/her parental rights. Therefore, your wife can obtain sole parental rights only if she files a claim for deprivation of parental rights against you. If such claim is filed you should immediately contact a lawyer. However, dual custody doesn’t mean that you will be able to take the children out of Ukraine. According to the laws of Ukraine children can be taken out of the country only upon written consent of both parents or a court decision. You will not be able to do anything if your wife doesn’t give consent for departure of the children from Ukraine. That is why you and your wife should sign a written agreement in order to establish the procedure for meeting the children and travelling with them out of Ukraine before the court delivers the judgment. If child support is important for your wife, it can be used as a good cause for signing the agreement. A Ukrainian Court can order up to 1/3 of your salary to be collected as child support but such judgment will be declarative and will not be enforced in the USA. If one wants to enforce such judgment in the USA, he/she should follow a special procedure upon which a US Court will set the amount of child support. Such procedure is time consuming and expensive. It is reasonable for you and your wife to sign an amicable agreement in order to facilitate the procedure and minimize expenses . As I have already mentioned the agreement shall provide for the following: