Legal defense in court in civil cases including: divorces, child support, the alimony obligations, adoptions, inheritance proceedings. Legalization of foreign divorces, search of divorce records in Russia, ex-USSR, United States. Registration, legalization of documents, apostilles. Restoration of certificates of marriage and divorce, of birth and death in Russia, the former USSR, USA, Europe, Australia, and other countries.
Karina Duvall
Karina Duvall

International Divorce Attorney

Expert in Russian Law


Sarah Cooper
Sarah Lucy Cooper

London, United Kingdom

Natalia Gourari
Natalia Gourari

Attorney at law,
Family and Matrimonial Law New York & New Jersey

Questions: 340
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Family Law: adoption, guardianship (USA)
Hello Karina –

Thank you very much for your recent response and consultation. I'm hoping that as
a part of this consultation, you wouldn't mind clarifying a couple of points from your response that left me wondering. I hope you a couple of questions regarding your consultation will be ok for you.

The first point is as follows: In your consultation, you suggest obtaining a visa other than a K-3 or medical visa for my fiancée’s child. Can you clarify this, by suggesting what kind of visa would be best for our situation. Really, a couple of different suggestions would be ideal.

Along with this, if we seek a different visa for my fiancée’s child, then on what basis would we ask for the Ukrainian court’s permission to take the child out of Ukraine?

These really are the two most helpful pieces of information you can give us as a part of our consultation.

Family Law: divorce proceedings, conclusion of marriage (Russia)
Hello, Karina,

I came across the link below in attempting a Google search for my current situation.
The link below describes my situation almost exactly.

I have a fiancee who resides in Crimea and her divorced was finalized in October or November of last year. As the possession of this territory is in turmoil, her marriage and the birth of her child occurred when it was considered Ukraine territory, but the divorce was finalized in the Russian courts.

Her divorce decree states that the child lives with the mother, but does not explicitly state that anyone is granted least according to the English translation that I have. The father is required to pay support, so I believe it can be assumed that she is granted custody.

I have filed the I-129F Application for Fiancee Visa with U.S. immigration and we are awaiting completion of that, which we expect within a month or two.

We expect opposition from the child's father and we understand that according to Ukraine law, he has that right, though I believe that according to the link below, we could qualify for the exception and I can provide evidence that I am able to support them better here than they are able to in Crimea.

In addition, we are unsure which laws will apply, because we are unsure which embassy she will be told to report to. She will most likely be assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, but there is a possibility that she will be assigned to Moscow.

I guess I would like to begin a dialogue with you to determine if the details of my situation warrant action and if your office can assist us. If so, I would like to discuss fees for possible services.

Thank you for any insight you can provide.

Family Law: divorce proceedings, conclusion of marriage (Russia)
I need to get an official Certificate of Divorce from Russia. It's typically on green paper and would have a number on it. According to ZAGS, the document I have is not sufficient even though it is stamped, etc.

Do you know anything about this?

Family law : divorce and division of property. (USA)
I'm an American married to a Russian woman for the past 7 years. We married in 2008 in Moscow and have lived in the Netherlands for the entire time. I bought properties during marriage with money I had earned long before marriage. These are mostly in another European country.

When I purchased them I was required to give wife's consent as I was married.

We are currently discussing divorce.

Will I be obligated to give her a portion of these properties by law under divorce settlement?

Family law : divorce and division of property. (Russia)

Family law : divorce and division of property. (Russia)

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

Family Law: termination of parental rights, rights of the child, child support. (Russia)
You told me it would be more profitable for me to born a child in my country than in Russia; why so? In which case I would have the child's custody?

Family Law: divorce proceedings, conclusion of marriage (Russia)
I'm an American. I'm married to a Russian citizen two years ago. I’ve been asked to go twice to notary to sign a document for renting his property, as they told since we’ve got married he’ll always need my signature for any renting/selling properties.

Family law : divorce and division of property. (Russia)
I'm an American. I'm married to a Russian citizen two years ago.
I have no idea in
which regime we’ve got married.
I mean, all documents are written in Russian language, and we haven’t made any Marriage Contract before wedding.
I would like to know what my rights are if I ask a divorce.

The only one document I can give you is the Marriage Certificate.

The rights of foreign nationals (Russia)
Ms Duvall,

We have a legal issue we would like your advice on (we're not planning a
divorce - but you have useful info on your web site about our question and would seem to know more than most, including lawyers and notaries in Moscow) -

What is the best ownership of Moscow property for tax and survivorship purposes for a couple with one Russian citizen (wife - who is a dual Russian / US citizen).

We have an apartment in Moscow bought originally under under the husband's name (US citizen) via a mortgage. It is currently listed under the husband and wife's name. We would like to minimize potential taxes if we decide to sell (which would probably mean putting it solely in the wife's name (she is also still registered as a Moscow resident - and did recently complete the registration of the fact that she has also a foreign passport), but also make any survivorship issue as uncomplicated as possible. Our assumption is that there is no straightforward Russian equivalent to Joint Tenant with Right of Survivorship ownership mechanism.

What would be your estimate for basic review and advice of our issue.

Family Law: termination of parental rights, rights of the child, child support. (Russia)
My wife told me below that she sent you a letter. Asking for child support. What are child support payments on average in Russia? How you can help me?

Family law : divorce and division of property. (Russia)
First, I expect that the appropriate venue for the divorce would be Moscow, since that has been the jurisdiction of our marital home. Although we have lived in Moscow for many years, my wife is registered in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (where her parents live) and while she had some temporary registration in Moscow some years ago, I don't think she has kept that up, so I assume that she is not registered in Moscow, only in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. If we go this route, would you be able to assist?

Second, how long does the divorce process take?

Third, can she block the divorce if she does not agree?

Fourth, I understand that there is no requirement under Russian law for continual alimony or spousal support after the divorce. Is this correct?

Fifth, what is customarily done with property? Essentially all of the income earned in the family has been mine – my wife has never held a full time job during our marriage and has only earned a few rubles here and there teaching yoga. She has never earned more than a few thousand dollars in any year (for the past four or five years, the number has been almost zero). Under these circumstances, what kind of property division would be required under law?

Intellectual property (Russia)
I’m looking for an expert on Russian law to speak to me for 5 minutes – it seems that a death metal band called Cannibal Corpse are about to tour Russia, in spite of warnings from Orthodox activist groups about the tour being a contravention of blasphemy laws.

I’d like to speak to an expert on what Russia’s response will be – will it throw the band in prison, as it did Pussy Riot?

I’d basically like you to answer the following two questions:

1. Will Putin throw Cannibal Corpse in jail, or will he resist this option?

2. What will be the main considerations behind his decision?

Family Law: termination of parental rights, rights of the child, child support. (USA)
Dear Karina Duvall,

I've decided to go ahead and seek a paid consultation with you. Per your
request, I've paid the consultation fee at your website. Clearly, I hope that you'll be able to help me and my fiance out.

So, as previously mentioned, our situation is as follows. I’m a US citizen who is engaged to a Ukrainian woman. At the moment we are applying for a K-1 fiancee visa. Our major problem is that her ex-husband will not give us permission to take their son out of Ukraine. It should also be said that denying him custody of the child here in Ukraine will be impossible. He doesn’t do very much for his son, but apparently the ex does just enough. With all of that being said, we are still planning on bringing the child to the States. My questions now are two-fold.

First, once in the US, would it be possible to file for custody in a family court in the US? If so, how can we prepare for this eventuality now? What sort of advice could you offer now, and would this be a case you could take on in the near future?

Also, I should mention that I’m very worried about the possibility of my fiance’s ex-husband haunting us later in the future. While my fiancee is applying for a K-1 fiancee visa, we are planning on asking a Ukrainian court for permission to take the child from Ukraine on medical grounds. With that being said, I want to know what we can do (or even if this is the best strategy) to mitigate (or even prevent) the possibility of her ex-husband showing that the child was removed from Ukraine on false pretenses. Any advice or guidance you can offer in this would also be greatly appreciated.

I hope I've explained our situation adequately. Please let me know if you have any questions. Many thanks, and I look forward to your response.

Family Law: divorce proceedings, conclusion of marriage (Russia)

Family Law: termination of parental rights, rights of the child, child support. (Russia)
I am an American woman married to a Russian man since 2012. I gave birth to our daughter in New York in February 2015. She has an American birth certificate and social security card, no other papers.

I want to file for divorce and full custody from my state, but I don't know what is going on with my husband. He came to New York one week before our daughter was born, got his name on the birth certificate, and left 8 weeks later after much arguing. He broke property, wrecked my car in September, and there are witnesses to his verbal abuse. He is angry that I left Russia for the U.S. (I am only American, I don't even speak Russian) and I don't see any reconciliation (he is angry, unapologetic and does not want to move to the U.S. and I don't want to live with him in Russia again).

My husband wants to be in our daughter's life somehow - he insists she must visit Russia, and he wants to visit New York next month to see his daughter. I feel our marriage is over. I want to know before I file for divorce (I am procrastinating, I think I still love him but we are terrible together and I don't want our daughter growing up with fighting and disrespect to me) what rights he may have under Russian law to his child. I don't know what he's doing- for all I know he is speaking with lawyers and filing from Russia. I believe he does not love me anymore and just wants to make sure his daughter is Russian and has a relationship to Russia, but I want to prevent this now as I have heard that if I allow her to go to Russia (I would not let her go alone, ever) I may have trouble leaving with her. Please advise.

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

I have seen your website and the interesting and professional answers you provide and I
would like to have your legal advice before starting any legal process, in which case I will be happy to use your services.

I am American citizen married with a Russian girl in 2009. We have been living in Russia until 2011 when we move to United States with our little daughter.

During the previous Christmas we went to Saint Petersburg for a 2 weeks holidays and when I was there my wife told she will never come back to United States and that she will keep my daughter with her. I went back to United States and I have already started the divorce process with a lawyer.

She recently filed divorce in Russia.

From what i have seen in your website (answers) and what another lawyer told me already, I am aware that what she is doing is legal in Russia.

My question is: How the process works in Russia for my wife sending her demand to me? Should I have to have a lawyer in Russia?

If I disagree with what she demands (I will ask for the custody for myself) should I have to go to Russia to declare on the tribunal?

I have sent the official request via the Ministry of Foreign affairs, and they answered me by the Central Russian Authority. They offer me to reach agreement with my wife about child.

i have also seen that Russian Law does not care about which demand was first or if there is "opposite" demand coming from another country.

If my demand comes to her before she start the process, does this changes anything for me / for her?

Family Law: divorce proceedings, conclusion of marriage (USA)
I am writing a story about divorce in Russia. I would like to interview you and have your opinion on the subject.

These are the questions i would like to address:

1. What are the main reasons, according to you, behind the high divorce rates in Russia?

2. Do you believe that these issues might be related to marrying early, infidelity, alcoholism?

3. What has the government done now and what more can it do to affect the divorce rate?

4. How many divorces to you handle a year?

5. Are divorces easier in Russia? If yes, why?

6. What part to children play in the divorce? What is the perspective in Russia toward paying child support etc.?

7. Do you see a change in trend in the past two decades? Are younger people not going to have such a high divorce rate? If yes, why?

8. Lastly, have I forgotten anything on the subject? If yes please write any additional comment.

Thank you very much!

Immigration Law (Russia)
I am Ukrainian citizen. Is it possible to have 2 residences and 2 visas (to make residence and permanent visa in Russia keeping at the same time my residence (green card) in United States?

Questions: 340
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