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

Ms. Duvall,

I looked throughout your website. I looked in Google, and checked out many different listings, and you looked to be the best (I hope so!).

I am writing concerning my getting divorced in Russia. My wife is Russian but also has American citizenship. We were married in America. We have two children. Both of our children were born in America, but they also have Russian citizenship.

I want to file for divorce in Russia. I do not own any property in Russia, although I do own a house here in America. Both my wife and I are on the deed for the house. I have a few questions:

1. What are my chances of getting custody of my children, after they are 10 years old?

2. If a court orders custody for me, how can they enforce order?

3. If my wife violates/restricts access for me, what can happen to her?

I know that probably I won’t get custody, but I can visit Russia twice during the year.

4. Would I be able to have time alone with my kids? I would like to be able to email my daughter, call and text on her phone, without my wife’s interference, and to Skype every day, even if just for a few minutes. When I go to bed, they are getting ready for school, and when I’m having lunch at school, they are getting ready for bed. I want to have a routine with them. I’d like to play checkers and chess online with my son. I have told my wife that I would pay more for a larger flat, and for them to get Internet in the flat, along with an actual computer for the kids to communicate with me.

I do not want to lose contact with my children, or to have my wife sever the relationship between my kids and me. I feel that I have no hope!

5. When the court looks at my income and decides what % should go to child support, do they consider how much further money goes in Russia, and if the court orders it to be 1/3 of my income, is that before or after taxes?

6. If I do not provide my income information to the Russian court, how will they base the amount of child support? Isn't the formula roughly 1/3 of the father's income for 2 children? Can you give me an idea of how much this amount might be?

7. Is it true that a Russian court largely will not address any property in America for a property settlement? If so, my wife's name is on the deed, and even if I get to keep the house, I do need to get her to sign a document that removes her name from the deed, so that I will be able to sell or re-finance the house in the future. I'd be willing to pay her a lump sum to get her to sign this document.

You have 100% rights for divorce in Russia and visitations with your children. Typically, you can get physical visitations two or three times in year, and Skype visitations on weekly basis.

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Answer

1. To be honest, you have no chances to get custody in Russia.

2. As I mentioned above, you have no chances to get custody in Russian court. If you get custody in the US court, it will be enforceable only if and when your wife will come back to USA. Sometimes it happens, when Russian mothers coming back to USA to resolve child support and other matrimonial issues. Most likely she will be arrested in this case, and children will be returned to you.

3. The Russian order will be fully enforceable in the Russian Federation. When you get visitations by the Russian court, the Enforcement agency will support you.

4. You will probably get certain amount of time for communication with children via skype on the weekly basis. For example, you will get schedule like every Saturday between 5:00 and 6:00 pm, or twice a week. Something like that. Not all the lime. It might be alone or with your wife’s participation. It will be depends of judge’s decision. We will ask for visitations without my wife’s participation.

5. The Russian law allows to determinate fixed amount of child support. I do not recommend you to provide your income information to the Russian court. In any case, the child support will count after taxes.

6. According to the Article 83 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation, if there is no parents' agreement on the child support payment, and if the non-custodial parent has irregular or changing income, or if this parent receives his income in foreign currency, or if he has no income, and also in other cases, if the exaction of the child support as a share of the parent's income is impossible or difficult, the court shall have the right to define the amount of the child support in fixed amount. The amount shall be defined by the court according to the child's former maintenance level, taking into account the financial situation, marital status of both parties, and other circumstances.

The court has right to apply 1/3 formula. In this case, you will be responsible to pay 1/3 of living wage in your wife's place of residence.

However, if you or your wife will provide your income information, you will be responsible for unreasonable amount of child support.

Most likely, we will reach a settlement agreement with your wife, because the settlement will be enforceable even in the United States, and this is a best way for both of you.

7. According to the property, the Russian court will not divide US real estate, but if you will reach a settlement agreement, the court will approve it. Since you are ready to pay some money as part as settlement, I believe we will reach agreement with your wife. Otherwise, you can open partition case in the United States after divorce.

I will be glad to represent you.

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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