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

Question

I am an American woman married to a Russian man since 2012. I gave birth to our daughter in New York in February 2015. She has an American birth certificate and social security card, no other papers.

I want to file for divorce and full custody from my state, but I don't know what is going on with my husband. He came to New York one week before our daughter was born, got his name on the birth certificate, and left 8 weeks later after much arguing. He broke property, wrecked my car in September, and there are witnesses to his verbal abuse. He is angry that I left Russia for the U.S. (I am only American, I don't even speak Russian) and I don't see any reconciliation (he is angry, unapologetic and does not want to move to the U.S. and I don't want to live with him in Russia again).

My husband wants to be in our daughter's life somehow - he insists she must visit Russia, and he wants to visit New York next month to see his daughter. I feel our marriage is over. I want to know before I file for divorce (I am procrastinating, I think I still love him but we are terrible together and I don't want our daughter growing up with fighting and disrespect to me) what rights he may have under Russian law to his child. I don't know what he's doing- for all I know he is speaking with lawyers and filing from Russia. I believe he does not love me anymore and just wants to make sure his daughter is Russian and has a relationship to Russia, but I want to prevent this now as I have heard that if I allow her to go to Russia (I would not let her go alone, ever) I may have trouble leaving with her. Please advise.

Answer

You are very lucky that your daughter was born in the United States. In the case of the child's birth in the territory of the Russian Federation, she would acquire Russian citizenship automatically. But in your case, your daughter has sole citizenship; it is citizenship of the United States. To acquire Russian citizenship, she can only with your consent. Please do not give this consent even if you reconcile with your husband. In this case the father can take your daughter to Russia, and you will not be able to return your daughter back to United States. For now, the Russian court has no jurisdiction over your child, and your husband will not be able to achieve anything through the Russian court. Therefore, in your case, your husband cannot force you to bring your child to Russia. Only a US court has jurisdiction over your child. If your husband will say in a US court that he wants to take child to Russia (even for vacation), you should strongly object because there are no mechanism is forced to return the child from Russia to the United States. Therefore, all visitations should be in the United States only.

You or your husband can obtain divorce in Russia, because Russia has jurisdiction over your marriage, but not over your child. If you need my assistance in obtaining a divorce in Russia, I'll be glad to help you.
Karina Duvall
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