Marriage property (or spouse property) Split in Russian Law

Marriage property (otherwise known as spouse property) may be owned jointly or separately by husband and wife under the provisions of the Russian Family Law. Not all of the property held in spousesnames form their joint asset pool.

What is Included in the Joint Marriage Property?

It has to be property purchased by the spouses with their joint funds during the marriage regardless of which of the spouses’ names it was registered under. Marriage property also comprises their income, such as remuneration as an employee, entrepreneur profit, pension and social security benefits.

The default legal regime that applies to the spousal asset pool is the joint property regime. The property rights belong equally to both spouses, in other words, when the court deals with an application for a financial relief, the 50/50 distribution of joint marriage property presumption applies. In some exceptional circumstances the court has discretion “to deviate from the default rule of the equality of shares in the interests of minor children or for the reasons related to one of the parties, for instance, when one of the spouses did not make any contributions without a valid reason or dissipated the joint marital property“.

What is Excluded from Marital Property and Belongs to Spouses Personally?

Property acquired by one of the spouses prior to the marriage, or received during the course of the marriage as a gift, inheritance or through other gratuitous deals. In addition to that property acquired by one of the spouses during marriage but with his or her own funds. Such property remains personal throughout the marriage and is not subject to division.

Can Spouses make a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement Changing the Default Marital Property Regime?

A prenuptial or a post-nuptial agreement may alter the default spousal property regime set by Russian Family Law.

What Court Should Divide the Marital Property if it Includes Foreign Assets?

The Russian court has jurisdiction in financial settlement proceedings, where at least one of the spouses is a foreign national, and the defendant is resident in Russia or has property on its territory.

Will Russian Family Law Apply when Russian Court Divides Spousal Property?

Financial rights and obligations of the spouses are governed by the law of the country where they have a common place of residence. If they don’t have one, the law of the state where they last had a common place of residence applies. The rights and obligations of the spouses who do not have a common country of residence are governed by the Russian law in Russian divorce proceedings.

What if One Spouse Started Financial Proceedings Abroad? Can One Still Go to Russian Court?

Where there are similar proceedings pending in a court of a different jurisdiction between the same parties, with the same subject matter and grounds, or where a decision has already been granted in such a case, the Russian court will decline to accept the claim, dismiss it or discontinue the proceedings if they are on foot. However, these rules only apply to those cases in which the decisions are capable of being recognised and enforced in Russia.

More often than not a foreign decision has no prospect to be recognised in this country. In such case if you have Russian assets, you will need to apply to Russian court to divide property between you and your spouse.

The Exclusive Jurisdiction of Russian Courts

This country has exclusive jurisdiction in relation to the real marriage property located on its territory. Therefore, no foreign court orders in respect of Russian real property will be recognised or given effect to.

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If you have any further queries in relation to marriage property or spouse property regulation under the Russian law, please contact me directly.

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