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

One of Saint-Petersburg federal courts is considering the civil case between two citizens of Russia, who during the past 20 years have been residing in the USA, concerning the marriage dissolution, dissolution of marriage, recovery of alimony, determination of the child’s place of residence, and division of property jointly acquired in wedlock.

The proceeding on this civil case was initiated on the ground of the fact that the parties (citizens of Russia and USA) and their minor child (US citizen by birth) have permanent residence registration in Russia.

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Answer

The residence registration procedure, which had existed in the Soviet period, is still operating in the Russian Federation, and traditionally it implies the place of residence of a citizen. Though the parties lost their ties with Russia nearly 20 years ago, the fact of having residence registration, enables them to apply for judicial protection to the Russian courts, where the parties neither reside nor work, they do not perform any tax liabilities, they apply to the country which is NOT the center of their fundamental interests. The applications to Russian courts have become a trend for many of our former compatriots, who are trying in such a manner to avoid responsibility.

However we, lawyers, do understand that due to non-availability of above mentioned treaty between the USA and the Russian Federation on rendering legal assistance in civil cases, any judgment made within the Russian Federation will not be subject to execution within the USA. It would be just a declarative act not binding on the US competent authorities. This judgment will not stand good in law within the USA until a US competent court makes its own decision according to the procedure prescribed by the law based on the petition of concerned party for acknowledging and execution of the judgment of a foreign court.

Furthermore, the ability of the Russian court to collect evidence available within the USA seems to be more than doubtful, since absolutely all evidence in the case can be found within the USA. Due to non-availability of twice mentioned treaty between the USA and the Russian Federation on rendering legal assistance in civil cases, the competent authorities of Russia have no real possibility to call for and carry out objective investigation of evidence submitted from abroad.

It is obvious that the real reason of this weird suit being filed in another country is an attempt to stand against the American justice. An unfair party by its wrong acts tries to hinder the consideration of lawful claims by the American court.

In my opinion, the suit of my client was admitted for consideration by American court pursuant to the jurisdiction requirements, and there are no obstacles for its lawful consideration. The USA and Russia are not connected with each other by any bilateral treaties preventing the consideration of the case within the USA. In addition, due to health reasons my client is unable to participate in court cessions in Russia. Her husband is also unable to be there, taking into account the schedule of his classes and intensity of work. Furthermore, not only property relations of the parties are the subject matter of the case, but also personal non-property relations between the parties, which cannot be considered correctly without direct personal participation of the parties in the court proceeding. On top of that, the court is obliged to interrogate the child, who is over 10 years old and must express his opinion on the essence of submitted claims.

All these factors on aggregate make the consideration of this case by any Russian court impossible. On the ground of above stated and taking into account the non-availability of international treaty between the USA and Russia, I believe it possible to consider the presented claims separately from the proceeding taking place in Russia.

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.
Karina Duvall
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