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

Question

I will try to give you as much information as possible should some of the details be of use. My Russian wife and I have been married for 2 years. She arrived on a K-1 visa and currently has a Green Card. We got married and have a beautiful 6 month old daughter. I am employed full time and she stays home to take care of our daughter. Her English is not very good and she does not know how to drive. She has always exhibited very angry and explosive behavior, but it has gotten much worse recently. I am trying to get her to go to a counselor with me, but she is reluctant to seek help. Given her anger and instability, I am afraid that I might have to try to take my daughter from her and I would like to understand the following:

1. What are Russian and American laws concerning custody of young children? Is it ever possible for the father to get custody of a daughter in a situation like this? Aside from two occasions where I drank too much and blacked out (one was our wedding night), she has no evidence that I am an unfit father.

2. I have video, audio, and text messages (collected over the course of more than 1 year) showing that my wife is unstable and, at times, incapable of taking care of our daughter. Could this ever be admitted as evidence in a custody hearing? The files are in Russian and/or English and would have to be translated – is this something that you or your office could do? If so, how much would this cost?

3. If my wife takes my daughter back to Russia, do I have any legitimate guarantees that I will be able to see her? If my wife tries to prevent me from seeing my daughter, is there a way through Russian courts for me to be able to see her?

4. What happens to her immigration status if we file for a divorce? I assume that she would be able to travel back to the US, but she would have to apply for a visa every time – is that correct?

5. What financial obligations do I have if my wife returns to Russia with our daughter? What if she returns by herself? We do not own property and I am not wealthy.

6. What would you estimate the cost of pursuing a divorce in these circumstances? What is the expected time-frame to complete everything?

7. Based on your experience with others and the information contained herein, are there any other circumstances of which I should be aware?

Please let me know if you have any questions or need any clarifications.

Answer

According of the information which you gave me, I do not think counselor will help to save your family. Otherwise, I think someday your wife will accuses you of domestic violence. So, given her anger and instability, like you said, you take risks. In this situation will be better to stay away from her. I can handle your case, and you can get divorce in Russia much faster than in United States.

1. According to the custody, if she will decide to return to Russia, you have no chance to get custody through the Russian court. But you definitely can get visitation rights. I cannot to tell you nothing about U.S. law, but according to Russian law, you have no chances to get custody no matter what.

2. You can us your audio-, video-, and text- records to prove your case, but not for custody in Russia. If you want to get custody, you need to do your best to keep your wife in the United States. You can file custody case in the USA now, and ask judge to prohibit your wife from leaving the USA with child. You can get custody only by this way, and you need American attorney for this case.

3. Yes, you can get visitations through the Russian court. This is not big problem. I can handle this case for you.

4. She can get permanent green card through the marriage. But she has many other opportunities through immigration attorney.

5. Your wife can file child support case either in the United States or in Russia. You have obligations to support your child in any place. She can also take spousal support. According of Russian law, she can get spousal support until the child reaches 3 y.o. You need to ask American attorney to know American side of this question.

6. I can make divorce for you during 3 months, if she agrees. If she doesn’t, you need to wait until your daughter reaches 1 y.o. According to art. 17 of the Family Code of Russian Federation, husband shall not have the right to institute court proceedings on dissolution of the marriage during the wife's pregnancy and in the course of one year after the birth of the child. You can do it only with your wife consent.
Karina Duvall
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