DISCLAIMER: The information on this page relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.
Russia is not a signatory to the Hague Abduction Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction, and does not consider international parental child abduction a crime. Therefore, options for left-behind parents are very limited. Without the cooperation of the taking parent, it can be difficult for left-behind parents in the United States to obtain access to a child who has been abducted to Russia. In the rare scenario that a case is resolved, it is usually due to an agreement between the parents, rather than the result of court orders or arrest warrants.
The State Department can help by attempting to conduct welfare and whereabouts visits on the abducted American child; however, these visits may only be conducted with the consent of the child’s physical guardian. The United States government does not have the ability to independently locate children in Russia and must request the assistance of the Russian government when an abducted child’s whereabouts are unknown.
The Department of State’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) posts additional information about travel to Russia at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1006.html.
In Russia, married parents have equal rights of custody to their minor children. The same rights apply to parents of children born out of wedlock if the child’s father is known and has declared his parental rights.
The civil court having jurisdiction over a child’s residential district handles custody disputes in Russia.
Parental child abduction is not a crime in Russia; however, the Ministry of the Interior (MVD) will search for missing children upon request. A left behind parent must file a missing person report with the police in order for action to be taken. The Federal Bailiff’s Service only becomes involved in enforcement activities if there is a Russian court order granting custody or visitation to the left-behind parent.
RETAINING AN ATTORNEY:
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law, on its website: http://moscow.usembassy.gov/root/pdfs/list---attorneys.pdf or http://moscow.usembassy.gov/acs-resources.html.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by listed attorneys. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
Russian court-ordered attorneys are available in criminal cases, but not civil matters.
CITIZENSHIP & PASSPORT MATTERS:
Based on the Russian Law on Citizenship dated February 6, 1992, citizenship can be acquired by birth or descent.
If one parent is a citizen of the Russian Federation and the other is of another citizenship, the child’s citizenship shall be decided by a written agreement between the parents. In the absence of such agreement, the child shall acquire citizenship of the Russian Federation if born in the territory of the Russian Federation or if he/she would otherwise be stateless. For additional information, please see the Federal Migration Service website at: http://www.fms.gov.ru.
If either parent is a citizen of the Russian Federation, or the other is a stateless person, their child shall be a citizen of the Russian Federation, irrespective of the child’s place of birth. By descent, a child acquires citizenship of the Russian Federation if both parents are citizens of the Russian Federation, irrespective of the child’s place of birth.
Russian law does not provide for dual citizenship regardless of whether a Russian citizen holds dual citizenship in accordance with the laws of another foreign state. In cases where a Russian minor or adult citizen lawfully obtains more than one nationality, the Russian government considers that person to be solely a Russian citizen.
Russian passport authorities do not require that both parents consent to passport issuance. One parent can file a request for issuance of a Russian passport to their child, or for the child’s name to be entered into the applying parent’s Russian passport until the age of 14. Although the law authorizes passport agencies to refuse processing of a child’s passport if the applicant parent does not have custody over the child, the Russian government does not require a parent to demonstrate proof of custody. To decrease the likelihood that a Russian passport will be issued for the child without the custodial parent’s consent, parents who have sole custody of their Russian children are encouraged to provide a properly certified copy of the custody decree to the Russian passport agency which has jurisdiction over the child’s residential district in Russia. The United States is not aware of Russian embassies or consulates providing a similar service.
Russian citizens can travel to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, using their “internal” passports.
Exit permits are required for non-Russian citizens and can be initiated and/or withdrawn through a local law enforcement precinct, prosecutor’s office, court, or an investigation committee.
The consent of a non-traveling parent is not required for a child to depart Russia.
Mediation is not a recognized term or legal process used in custody disputes, though informal services may be provided by local religious organizations.
Russia generally does not recognize foreign custody orders. Therefore, parents awarded custody by U.S. courts will not receive enforcement assistance absent another custody order from a Russian court. However, as noted below, even with a Russian court order enforcement by the Russian authorities is in no way guaranteed.
Parents can jointly file a custody agreement with the court and request shared custody over their children. If the parents do not agree on custody, or if the court finds that the proposed agreement is not in the best interest of the child, the court will issue a custody order. Most custody arrangements begin as informal agreements within families, and cases involving custody disputes can be lengthy. Once issued, enforcement of such orders can be difficult, and if one parent does not abide by the terms of the order, there is often very little recourse. Russian law allows for local law enforcement to assist in local custody enforcement; however, in practice, the level of assistance provided to parents seeking enforcement is inconsistent.
The court’s view on the best interests of the child is a key factor in making custody decisions. According to the Russian Family Code, in determining the best interest of the child, the court will consider factors including: the child’s opinion (if appropriate), the child's relationship with his parents and siblings, the child's age, the moral and other personal traits of the parents, and factors related to the lifestyle each parent can offer the child. If living and financial conditions are equal between both parents, priority may go to the mother. However, if the father is able to prove that he can better care for the child, the court will take that into consideration. The court may also consider the child’s residence in Russia as in his/her best interests.
Parental child abduction is not a criminal offense in Russia.The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia that would include U.S. criminal charges of International Parental Child Abduction.There is no official government translation of Russia’s Penal Code. (Links to unofficial translations of Russia’s laws are available at: http://www.llrx.com/features/russian.htm).
The non-custodial parent has visitation rights unless the custody decree specifically modifies or terminates his or her access rights. However, unless specifically provided for in a court order or other legally binding agreement, visitation is often at the sole custodial parent’s discretion without any enforcement mechanisms.
EMBASSY CONTACT INFORMATION:
EMBASSY CONTACT INFORMATION:
U.S. Embassy in Moscow
Bolshoy Deviatinsky Pereulok No. 8
TEL: +7 (495) 728-5000
FAX: +7 (495) 728-5084
See Links Below for additional U.S. Consulates and Virtual Presence Posts (VPP):Russia: Yekaterinbur
Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
2641 Tunlaw Road NW,
Washington, DC 20007
TEL: (202) 939-8907, 939-8913, 939-8918
FAX: (202) 483-7579
Russian Consulate in New York:
Address: 9, East 91 St., New York, NY 10128
Phone: +1 (212) 348-0926
Fax: +1 (212) 831-9162
Russian Consulate in San Francisco:
Address: 2790 Green St., (in Pacific Heights near Presidio Park between Baker St. and Broderick St. and Vallejo St. and Union St), San Francisco, CA 94123
Phone: +1 (415) 928-6878 (24 hours), 202-9800 (reference & answering machine)
Fax: +1 (415) 929-0306
Russian Consulate in Seattle:
Address: 2323 Westin Building, 2001 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121-2617
Phone: +1 (206) 728-1910
Russian Consulate in Houston:
Address: 1333 West Loop South, Ste. 1300
Houston, TX 77027
Phone: +1 (713) 337-3300