Pursuant to Art. 161, part 1 of the RF Family Code, personal non-property and property rights of spouses are governed by the law of the state within which they have a common place of residence.
The jurisdiction rules are established by the provisions of the RF Civil Procedure Code (articles 28-32), which stipulate that a lawsuit should be filed at the place of residence of the defendant. In a number of cases the law permits to consider the case at the plaintiff’s place of residence or at the place of property location. However in each case the law connects the judicial recourse with the citizen’s place of residence or place of property location.
The place of permanent or preferred residence is recognized as a citizen’s place of residence (Art. 20 part 1 of RF Civil Code). And the registration of a RF citizen on the Russian Federation territory is exclusively administrative: a person actually residing on the territory of Russia at least 183 days a year is a resident of the Russian Federation is a (Art. 207, part 2 of the RF Tax Code).
Real estate disputes fall within the exclusive jurisdiction and are considered only at the place of real estate location (Art. 30, part 1 of the RF Civil Procedure Code). The Russian court is incompetent for considering the cases concerning division of property located abroad.
The Russian court shall be entitled to divide the movable property located outside Russia only if the case meets the jurisdiction requirements, i.e. the defendant has a permanent place of residence and resides in Russia.
Pursuant to Art. 163 of the RF Family Code the rights and obligations of parents and children are determined by the law of the state on the territory of which they have a common place of residence. The Russian court is not entitled to define the fate of the child whose both parents reside outside Russia, and the child himself has been living abroad from his birth.
In fact, Art. 160, part 2 of the RF Family Code, Art. 402, part 3, clause 8 of the RF Civil Procedure Code stipulates the possibility of marriage dissolution for Russian citizens residing outside Russia. And the disputes arising between the spouses as regards the child’s place of residence and division of jointly acquired property is not subject to consideration by the Russian court, if the parties permanently reside outside RF.
Finally, it is important to note the fact that there is no agreement on legal assistance in civil and family matters between Russia and USA. Which means that no judgment of the Russian court has predetermined validity for the USA, and visa versa. Which means that any judgment awarded by the Russian court will be legally valid on the territory of the other party only in the case of mutual acknowledgment of respective laws of Russia and USA. In case of any contradictions in the laws of both countries, it is inadvisable to consider the case on the territory of either party, since such a judgment will be unlikely recognized by the court of the other country, and as a consequence will not be legally valid and executed.
In my opinion, under the circumstances the case should be considered by the court at the parties’ place of residence in the USA. It is the competent USA court that can examine fully and comprehensively all legally significant circumstances of the case and to judge correctly.
I will be glad to answer any questions of yours arising in the course of case consideration.