Dear Ms. Krasnova:
I live in Florida USA, but I travel to Moscow for business. While here last year I met a nice lady. The relationship is developing very well, and I anticipate marriage sometime in the future.
So, I was wandering about laws covering marriage in Russia. I am currently divorced and I would like to understand how to protect myself from losing what assets I have left.
You can register the marriage during your trip to Russia. For that purpose you will need the following documents: Certificate of No Impediment issued by the US Consulate in Russia or by a Vital Records Office in Florida. The Certificate shall state that you are not married. If the certificate contains information about a marriage, you will also have to submit a proof of dissolution of such marriage (court decision). All documents issued in the USA shall be apostilled.
You can protect your property by entering into a marriage contract. A marriage contract concluded in Russia will be valid in the USA as Russia will be the competent jurisdiction at the moment of entering into the marriage contract.
According to Art. 40-45 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation, a marriage contract is an agreement between the parties getting married or an agreement between the spouses, which sets forth rights and obligations of the spouses during the marriage and/or upon termination of the marriage. The marriage contract can be entered into both before and after state registration of the marriage. The marriage contract concluded before state registration of the marriage comes into force on the date of state registration of the marriage. The marriage contract is subject to mandatory notarization. The marriage contract may regulate both existing and future property of the spouses. The marriage contract may contain provisions regulating spousal support, income sharing and expenses bearing; it may specify the property that will be transferred to each of the spouses in case of divorce and may contain any other provisions regulating property relations between the spouses. The rights and obligations under the marriage contract may be established for a certain period of time and may depend on occurrence or nonoccurrence of certain circumstances.
The marriage contract cannot limit the spouses’ right to take legal actions in order to protect their rights, regulate personal non-property relations between the spouses, or parental rights and duties of the spouses; the marriage contract cannot contain any provision restricting the disabled low-income spouse’s right to spousal support or contain any other provision that creates extremely unfavorable conditions for one of the spouses or contravenes the law.
Unilateral repudiation of the marriage contract is not allowed. The marriage contract becomes void upon dissolution of the marriage except for those provisions that regulate the relationships after dissolution of the marriage.
The marriage contract or any part thereof may be held invalid by the court by request of one of the spouses if the provisions of such marriage contract create extremely unfavorable conditions for one of the spouses. That is why it is very important to make sure that the marriage contract provisions are fair with respect to both spouses.
As a general rule (with a number of exceptions), if a spouse assumed any obligation, any execution related to such obligation shall be levied only upon the property of such spouse. In this way, the marriage contract may protect you in case your spouse incurs a debt and refuses to repay it.
Based on the above, in order to protect your rights during the marriage and in case of divorce, you and your wife or going-to-be wife need to enter into a marriage contract. It is very important to make sure that the provisions of such contract do not contravene the laws of the Russian Federation or the State of Florida where you live and where you will probably live with your wife. In this regard, you need to consult a lawyer practicing in the State of Florida. I will be happy to prepare a draft marriage contract based on your requests, which will conform to the laws of the Russian Federation.