I, KARINA KRASNOVA, being duly sworn, depose and say:
1. I am an attorney duly licensed to practice law in the Russian Federation. My registration number is 78/857. My specialty is matrimonial and family law in the Russian Federation.
I have been licensed by the Appellate Division, 2nd Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York as a legal consultant from Russia pursuant to Section 53(6) of the Judiciary Law of the State of New York, as limited by Part 521 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals, and in accordance with the rules of the Court. I am often called to testify in the United States courts as an expert on Russian laws.
EDUCATION - Master Degree in Jurisprudence:
1995 - 1997: Saint Petersburg State University
1990 - 1995: Ukraine's National Law Academy
2. My clients consist of individuals of all nations who need representation in Russia in matrimonial matters. I operate with both foreign and Russian clients; the international side of my practice sees me acting primarily as a Russian divorce lawyer where one party, or both, is a foreign national. Upon taking a case, I seek to tailor an individual approach that allows them to achieve the best possible result in a timely and cost-effective fashion. My services extend to divorce, child support, maintenance, custody, property division, inheritance and related fields of law. I prepare of expert’s report for American and foreign courts concerning family and matrimonial law. I have juridical practice since 1991.
I have authored numerous articles in both Russian specialist and popular publications in Russia and United States and have been the recipient of several awards relating to my professional work in legal research. I also regularly participate in legal discussions on TV, especially on Family, Matrimonial and International Law, which is becoming an increasingly important facet in the entire world. My expert opinion have been used in courts of New York, Michigan, California, and also France, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic.
3. I worked in the capacity of lawyer on civil, family and criminal cases in courts of the general jurisdiction, appeal courts, arbitration, Supreme Court of Russia. I successfully tried over 800 cases of different complexity in courts. I represented interests of foreign citizens and Russian citizens overseas. I handled all aspects of International Private Law. I rendered help in legal paper work in Russia and abroad. I provided many consultations and publications in legal fields for magazines, newspapers, Internet sites and legal databases.
4. In the above-captioned case, I was asked to evaluate whether divorce between the Plaintiff and the Defendant, obtained in Moscow Region, Russian Federation on 2009 is a valid and enforceable divorce pursuant to the laws of Russian Federation.
5. I am writing this Affidavit to support a finding that a divorce action which took place on 2009 in Moscow Region, Russian Federation is invalid and not enforceable pursuant to the laws of the Russian Federation.
6. It is not uncommon for the United States citizens to obtain a divorce judgment in the Russian Federation. In order to establish whether a divorce between parties is a valid divorce in the Russian Federation one needs to apply the Civil Procedural Code of Russian Federation to the facts and circumstances surrounding the foregoing divorce action.
7. Based on the marriage certificate of the parties to this action n it is evident that the aforesaid marriage was duly registered on 1995 under the Acts of Record. Marriage certificate contains an apostille, which is required under the provisions of the Hague Convention of 1961. Therefore, this marriage certificate has full faith and credit in the United States. Simultaneously, the Acting Magistrate Court of the № XXX Judicial District of the Moscow Region issued the Judgment of Divorce which indicated that the marriage between the parties to this action was registered on 1994, under the Acts of Record number. In support of its judgment, a copy of Certificate of Marriage issued on 1994 was attached.
On November 2012, I received and researched response from the Sector Storage and Use of Books of Civil Registration of the Register Service, Main Department of Justice in the Moscow Region. I also analyzed an Order Dismissing a Criminal Case due to the expiration of the Statute of Limitations, and an excerpt from the Register of Civil Status. All these documents have clearly shown that absolutely no record of marriage exists between the parties to this action during 1994. Thus, in 2009, the court annulled a non-existing marriage. At the same time, the valid marriage registered in 1995 has never been canceled or voided. Up to this date, the parties remain to be a married couple and in a valid enforceable legal marriage.
8. Circumstances surrounding this case indicate that the so-called 2009 “divorce” was fictitious, in other words, a mere sham marriage, with no intention to create any legal consequences. A fake marriage certificate dated 1994 was used for this fictitious divorce. Meanwhile, parties to this action continued to represent and hold out themselves as spouses and in doing so they relied on the 1995 Certificate of Marriage during course of their relationship.
9. In January 2012, immigration lawyer assisted the parties to this action in their application for a green card based on the family reunion. Parties used their 1995 Marriage Certificate to advance their immigration purpose. In their green card application they stated:
- Form G-325A: “current husband, Date of Marriage – February 03, 1995, Signature of Applicant”.
- Each spouse filled out the Form I-130. In Section 6, Defendant answered “Married”; in Section 8, she answered “Date of Present Marriage – 1995”. Plaintiff had identical answers.
When applying for the family reunion, Defendant attached the following documents:
- forms with personal signature;
- tax returns for the past three years.
Thus, the above evidence proves that Defendant acted intentionally and deliberately; she was seeking to reunite with her husband, i.e. she confirmed that at least until January, 2012, she believed that she has been married to her husband.
10. "The Agreement between the Spouses" dated 2011, provides further evidence of the parties’ sham marriage. According to the express admission of the parties, their divorce was fictitious.
However, even in the absence of this admission, the divorce is illegal and unenforceable, because the Court terminated a non-existing marriage.
11. Under the law, all assets obtained by the spouses during marriage become marital property regardless of the name on the title or which spouse made the payment. The tax returns of Defendant show that she did not have sufficient funds that would allow her to buy expensive real estate. It is crystal clear that Plaintiff helped her financially in obtaining the property. However, he avoided recording his name in the documents for the following reasons:
- assets obtained during marriage automatically become marital property regardless;
- Plaintiff had close personal relationship with the plaintiff and he had no reason not to trust her;
- Plaintiff resided in Russia most of the time, he did not have a Social Security number which is usually required for any real estate transactions and bank accounts.
12. In the Russian Federation, the practice of bogus and fake divorces is widespread. Primarily, the reason is the peculiarities of the Russian legislature. Unlike in the United States, a court which hears a divorce matter may decide only the question of divorce, without considering and ruling on the other matrimonial issues, including disputes on custody and division of marital property. When a part of the marital property remains undivided, the spouses own it as joint tenants, and the property can be judicially parted at any time at the request of one of the spouses.
13. Russian court has never heard a dispute over the United States and Ukrainian marital property in this matter. When drafting the agreements dated 2009 and 2010, the parties did not include their property in the United States, as well as a part of real estate in Russia. There are no agreements or court decisions on partition of this property.
Thus, it is impossible to agree with the arguments of Defendant who asserts that all marital property has been already divided. First, she pointed out in paragraph 9 of the Agreement dated 2010, “The agreement does not contain an exhaustive list of property owned by the parties at the time of the divorce.” Second, Russian court has no jurisdiction over the United States property under the express provision of laws.
14. Pursuant to Russian law, pension funds of the spouses, education earned by each of the spouses during their marriage, licenses held by the spouses, corporations and business entities registered abroad are defined as non-marital or separate property.
Furthermore, Russian courts have no jurisdiction over real estate located abroad. Pursuant to Article 30 part 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Russian Federation, disagreements and any claims concerning real estate property including but not limited to rights to land, subsoil, properties, both residential and non-residential, structures, construction projects and other objects making an integral part of the land (as a property) are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the location of the real estate property. Thus, the issue of the division of the entire marital property has never been decided. It is worth noting that there are no international treaties between the Russian Federation and Unites States on legal assistance in civil and family matters.
15. Plaintiff himself has not, and could not have brought the issue of the division of the United States real estate due to the absence of his name in the title documents for the real estate and business entities, due to his actual residence in Russia, and due to the fact that there were no violations of his rights at that time. The parties considered themselves as spouses; they enhanced their well-being; they completed immigration forms together; and they bore and raised children together.
16. In paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Agreement of 2010, the parties stated their motives of the "dissolution of marriage" as follows:
- Exemption from taxes on real estate located in the Russian Federation;
- Preservation of property of Plaintiff (i.e. making his property immune to creditors);
- Exemption from taxes in the United States.
17. The Statute of Limitations in Russian Family Law is rather arbitrary. The Statute of Limitations does not commence from the date of divorce. It starts running from the time when the spouse knew or should have known about the violation of his or her rights. In practice, this means that there is no Statute of Limitations and property of ex-spouses may be divided not only during their lifetime, but also after their death during inheritance process.
18. After having thoroughly reviewed complete divorce file of the parties to this action, I have concluded that Plaintiff and Defendant were not present in the Court at the time when divorce judgment was rendered.
19. Based on the fact that divorce in this action was obtained in a violation of law, the parties of the said divorce action have a valid claim in Russian court in order to declare their divorce invalid. Also, the said divorce judgment will be declared invalid by the initiative of the Prosecutor who supervises compliance with the civil procedure rules in the courts of general jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.
20. Based on the foregoing, I conclude that the divorce between Plaintiff and Defendant dated 2009 is invalid and unenforceable. On the contrary, marriage entered by the parties on 1995, is valid and enforceable marriage. This is supported by the following evidence: marriage certificate, immigration forms dated 2012 filled out and personally signed by Defendant in order to be filed with the USCIS, as well as plenty of other objective evidence mentioned above.
21. Accordingly, I submit this affidavit in support of the motion to declare the Russian divorce an invalid divorce.