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Family Law: termination of parental rights, rights of the child, child support. (Russia)

Question

I live in New york and have a girlfriend in Russia, she is 29. We have not met. It is my intent to travel to Russia soon. The ultimate goal is to possibly bring her to the US. She is a very sweet girl who's husband has left and has filed for divorce with the court date being in late May, she has a small child that is not quite three yet.

I have read some on your site and have a general understanding of Russian law. Her ex is telling her that he will ask for custody, I realize it will be hard for him to get it.

My questions and concerns are: Will custody be settled along with the divorce or will a separate petition have to be filed by her to start that process?

Also do you think the father will be awarded visitation at that time and if so how often would it typically be?

My concern being, how would she comply if he was to see the child every other weekend or something like that if she is in the US? It is not the intent to deprive the father from the child, just can’t go to Russia every other week.

Also I have read on your site that the mother shouldn’t have any problem bringing the child to the US as long as the father doesn’t write a formal protest to the authorities. Will he be notified that she is attempting to remove the child from the country? if he does protest and she has custody will that prevent her leaving the country or will it just be that a visitation schedule would have to be worked out?

Also are you interested in helping in the visa process for her? I think she needs legal representation through the divorce/custody process, wouldn’t you agree? If so can you or do you have someone in that area to represent her?

Answer

The Russian court practice shows that the chances of custody being awarded to the father are very few unless there are very strong reasons like the mother’s immorality or addiction to alcohol or drugs.

According to the Russian Laws departure from Russia under K-1 or K-3 US visas is not considered departure for the purpose of permanent residence abroad and doesn’t require any special permission. In order to leave Russia, irrespective of the purpose of the trip, the mother and the child shall have a passport and a visa. Accordingly, you shall contact the US Consulate (Embassy) in order to find out which documents are required to apply for a visa for the child. As far as I know from my clients’ experience, many mothers leave for the USA without informing their ex-husbands about their departure. I should also mention that according to the Russian Laws a child’s departure from Russia together with the mother or the father is not a criminally punishable act or a breach of law. If Anastasia obtains a US visa for her and the child, her departure from Russia will be lawful provided that there is no court decision according to which custody is awarded to the father.

As a general rule, custody and visitation matters are not settled along with the dissolution of marriage unless the plaintiff or the respondent request so. If Anastasia wants to settled the custody matter along with the divorce, she can do it. There is no need to mention that she is planning to leave for the USA during the divorce proceedings as her husband may start obstructing her leaving. Usually the court awards custody to the mother and grants the father a right to meet the child and take part in the child’s upbringing. The court will not take the initiative in establishing the visitation procedure, the father shall file a separate claim to establish such procedure.

As I have mentioned above, the court will not take the initiative in establishing the visitation procedure, the father shall file a separate claim to establish such procedure. We may not know what the father’s claims will be. The court may award meetings once a week, once a month or twice a year. Later, after the mother’s and the child’s departure from Russia, the mother may file a claim for change of the visitation procedure due to temporary residing abroad.

In such case the visitation procedure will be changed by request of any rent.

He will not be notified about the mother’s attempt to remove the child from the country. Whether the child may be removed from the country or not will be decided by a court in case the father files a protest to the border control authorities before the child crosses the state border.

I cannot help her in obtaining a US visa but I may help her in obtaining a court order regarding the child’s custody if such order is required for the purpose if obtaining a US visa. If the visa can be obtained without the court order I would advise her to obtain the visa and leave the country without informing the ex-husband about that. If he takes legal action later it will be easier for you fiancée to protect herself when she is outside the Russian Federation because her ex-husband will not be able to threaten her by prohibition of departure from Russia.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. I’ll be happy to answer them.
Karina Duvall
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