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Divorce in Russia

As I have already mentioned a monogamy principle is a basis of regulations governing conclusion of marriages in Western countries and countries of the North America.

According to the official statistics almost every second family breaks up. That means half of all registered marriages. In the beginning of the XXIst century divorce issues has become more acute and number of divorce continue to increase. Thus we can say that only each fifth marriage concluded after January 01, 2001 survived its 5th anniversary. Psychologists are not able to stop this tendency. Number of divorces per year in the largest Russian cities in the last three years exceeded the number of registered marriages by 10-20 percent. At the same time we can see other trends in towns – young people move to larger towns and cities or abroad.

Citizens of large cities also look abroad. Possibility of living in Europe or America becomes more and more attractive for citizens of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Open borders tempt with new unknown possibilities. And everything seems wonderful and great but families (even those that have existed for many years) break up in a twinkle of an eye. Why? We will try to answer this question. We will consider only three aspects:

Situation 1: one of spouses moves abroad:

In case one of spouses goes abroad and takes a spontaneous decision to stay or "live for some time" the family is not fated but in most cases it is quite difficult to save it. We do not speak about long-term business trips with fixed dates of beginning and ending. We speak about spontaneous decisions. Distance between the spouses in this case becomes so significant that living together becomes impossible. One doesn’t want to come back and the other doesn’t want (or can’t) move abroad. Work, children, parents are among other factors keeping from moving to another country. And the family slowly but steady ceases to exist.

Case history:

I would like to get an advice and use your legal services and help in the future. The case is about divorce and partition of property. My wife and I have been married since 1995. We do not have children. The marriage was registered in Moscow. At the present time I live in South Korea. We do not live together for more than two years and there is no pint in saving the family. At the present time I can’t come to Russia that is why I would like to use services of a professional lawyer.

Situation 2: both spouses move abroad:

This situation is not less common than the first one. Families looking happy at first sight break up upon moving abroad. Why?

I would mention an adaptation issue as one of the main reasons. According to various researches family problems related to adaptation in a new country remain even after spouses successfully solve their problems connected with the place of residence, house and work. The spouses suffer from feeling unprotected, change of a social status, usual circle of contacts, usual relationships between the spouses break up. The spouses experience a number of losses, their self-assessment is damaged and they suffer from emotional and psychological stresses. Achievement of psychological and psychical equation and financial stability can be considered as the end of the adaptation period. But very often relationships break up before the spouses can reach such equation. In this case the spouses divorce.

Case history:

My husband and I registered our marriage in Russia (Rostov region) two years ago. We both live in the States now (J-1 visa). We do not live together for one and a half year and we both agree to divorce. We do not have neither common children nor property. We are both citizens of Russia. can we divorce in Russia and what shall we do for that?

Situation 3 – divorce after solemnizing a marriage abroad.

This is so called the most common situation. Many Russian women (and men) search for overseas fiancе in western countries and America. Internet has expanded their possibilities. Many dating web sites, marriage agencies, catalogues contribute to appearance of such marriages. In practice only small percent of such marriages continue. In my practice 90% of such families seek divorce during the first year or even the first months of marriage. Here are a few examples:

Case history 1:

I serve in the US army. I am accommodated in Korea. I married a Russian citizen this year. She went to Russia in June and didn’t come back. She was pregnant before she left and she gave birth in Russia. I spoke to her 3 times since she’s been gone and she said that she wants to divorce. What shall I do to divorce?

Case history 2:

I married a Russian and after 6 years of marriage we are getting divorced. I found her diary where she planned to divorce upon getting her passport and get her Russian boyfriend here and register a marriage with him. I would like to know how the property shall be divided according to the Russian legislation and how the Russian legislation deals with unfair practices.

Case history 3:

My boyfriend (Russian) and I (US citizen) want to get married but he is not divorced though he broke up with his wife a year ago. How can he divorce without going to Russia? Thank you.

There are a lot of examples like that. During the years of my practice I can count a few thousand. Such cases can be found all over the world and they are so numerous that they cannot be counted and analyzed. Millions of divorces happen every day all over the world. Shall we prevent it? Nerves, stresses, divorce procedures, partition of property after divorce, who shall take care of children, alimony payments - this is not a complete list of problems. When these problems are not solved they result in insomnia, emptiness, melancholy and conflicts.

Shall we fight for a family? Yes we shall. But we must remember that marriage is not a punishment and not life imprisonment. Marriage shall bring happiness and joy, spouses shall find support in each other. Shall a marriage be saved in case it is not so? Divorce procedure in Russia is more liberal than in many developed countries. For example in Great Britain a marriage can be dissolved only upon five years of separate residence! In the USA laws differ from state to state. For example the state of New York defends marriages so fervently that not every reason will be considered cogent for divorce and a court is entitled to refuse to dissolve your marriage. Russian legislation doesn’t require any reasons for divorce. Family legislation is based on creation family relations on the basis of mutual love, respect, support and responsibility for all family members, impermissibility of outside interference in family matters, assurance of unimpeded execution of right by family members and possibility to protect such rights judicially. Mutual voluntary consent of a woman and a man who reached the marriage age is enough for conclusion of a marriage (Art. 12 p. 1 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation) and a wish of one of spouses is enough for divorce. Herewith geographical location of spouses is not important, what is important is that the place of divorce shall conform to the jurisdiction regulations established in the Russian Federation. With the help of an experienced lawyer you can exercise your right to divorce irrespective of present residence. But you should weigh all pros and contras before taking such important decision.

Karina Duvall
Articles and consultations authored by attorney reflect the state of law as of the date of their writing. The laws change daily. Users of this site are advised to consult attorney regarding their situation.
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