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

Question

I am married to a Russian woman. We have a 3-year-old child who lives with us in the USA. My wife is a citizen of Russia and a holder of the US permanent residence card. Our son has double citizenship. We are currently going through a divorce and child custody proceedings. I am afraid that my wife will take our child to Russia and I will lose my parental rights. What should I do?

Answer

In order to prevent your child from being taken to Russia you should apply to a US judge for an order prohibiting taking the child out of the USA. If your wife leaves the USA with the child, it will be difficult for you to control the situation. On one side, if your wife takes the child abroad in violation of a court order, you will be in a position to claim sole custody and return of the child to you. On the other side, you will be able to bring any claim only when your wife leaves the Russian Federation and the foreign authorities that recognize US court orders will render you assistance in returning the child to you. But it will be difficult for you to get your child back to the USA if your wife stays in the Russian Federation and doesn’t leave its territory, because Russian courts grant custody to mothers in 90 cases out of 100 and grant visitation rights to fathers even though the Russian Federation joined the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If that happens, you will be able to meet your child once or twice a year on the territory of the Russian Federation and you will not be entitled to take the child outside Russia even temporarily. So, the best you can do to prevent such situation is to apply to a US judge for an order prohibiting taking the child out of the USA.
At the moment there is no need for you to initiate proceedings in Russian courts. But if your wife brings any suit in Russia, you will need a lawyer. In that event I will be happy to help you.
Karina Duvall
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