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Child Custody

Child custody and parental rights and responsibilities: which court to go to?

Russian courts have authority to hear child custody, parental responsibility and other matters concerning parental rights and duties, that involve foreign nationals if:

  • the defendant parent has a place of residence in Russia;
  • the defendant parent has property in Russia;
  • in child support and paternity matters the plaintiff is a Russian resident.

It is possible that the case could potentially be heard by courts in various jurisdictions. There will be pros and cons to those options, which should be discussed with your lawyer.

Parental responsibility and parental rights under Russian Family Law  

There is a presumption of equal parental responsibility in Russian family law. Essentially it means that father and mother have equal parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their children under the age of 18, such as the right and a duty to bring up their children, responsibility for their children’s health, physical, psychological and ethical development.

Parents have the primary right to bring up their children. This means that the courts automatically consider parental rights to be superior to anyone else’s (such as grandparents, step parents and others), unless it is established that one or both parents are unfit to care of the child.

Parents are their children’s legal representatives. They have a duty to defend their children’s rights under the provisions of the Russian Family Code. Parental rights cannot be exercised contrary to their children’s interests. All issues concerning children’s health and upbringing should generally be decided by mutual agreement between the parents and in the best interests of the child. If disagreements arise, the parents may approach specialist social organisations or apply to the court to resolve them.

Restriction and Termination of Parental Rights

In certain cases, when communication with the parents negatively affects or may affect the child, the rights of parents (or one of them) could be restricted or terminated.

Child Custody and Visitations

Parents residing separately may sign a written agreement settling between them the issues of child custody, parental responsibility and visitation rights of the non-custodial parent.

If the couple cannot come to an amicable decision and there is a dispute as to whom the child should primarily live with, this can be resolved by court on the application of either of the parents.

A parent residing separately from the child has a right to communicate with him or her and participate in his or her upbringing and making decisions about child’s education.

The presumption of equal parental responsibility does not immediately translate into a joint child custody arrangement or the child spending equal amount of time with each parent. Naturally, children have a right to spend meaningful time with both father and mother. A court would normally grant child custody to the primary carer, whom the child will primarily reside with and allocate time with the other parent.

In order to resolve a child custody matter in the best interests of a child the court takes into consideration:

  • the attachment of the child to each parent and to siblings;
  • the child’s age;
  • ethical and other qualities of the parents;
  • their relationship with the child;
  • their capacity to provide for the needs of the child.

If the parents reside in different countries, this will inevitably affect the pattern of child’s and non-custodial parent’s contact. The cost and time factors associated with international travel for the parent residing overseas may significantly affect the desired meaningful time together. In situations like that telephone, Internet, video links may be used as the means to make up the inevitable gaps. These days you could even play chess or other games on-line with your child being in different parts of the world! But this, in many respects, requires co-operation and good will of both parents.

Read more about child custody and parental rights:

LEAVE TO REMOVE A CHILD OUT OF THE COUNTRY (coming soon)

INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION IN RUSSIA

HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION 1980

HAGUE CONVENTION ON JURISDICTION, APPLICABLE LAW, RECOGNITION, ENFORCEMENT AND COOPERATION IN RESPECT OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND MEASURES FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN 1996

AMENDMENTS TO RUSSIAN FAMILY LAW FOLLOWING ACCESSION TO THE HAGUE CONVENTIONS 

If you have further questions about child custody, parental responsibility and parental rights, please contact me directly.

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