International child abduction. Part 4. Russian lawyer Anton Zharov

When do I have to go to Russia and how often do I have to do it?

How to get a Russian visa?

How will the trial be held?

Is the interpreter needed in the court?

Where the trial is held?

Who is needed in the court?

How soon will there be a court decision and how soon will it be enforced?

Is it possible to appeal against the court decision?

Hello, my name is Anton Zharov. I am a Russian lawyer, practise in Moscow, and we are talking about international child abduction, its civil law aspects.

Last time we talked how to start judicial procedure and now how it is going to be held.

When do I have to go to Russia and how often do I have to do it?

In theory the issue of child return to the country where he or she was abducted from can be examined without your presence at all. However, I recommend if there is such an opportunity, to attend the court session and to appear in front of the judge in person and not through the representative. So that the judge when taking the decision on child return understands that he or she gives the child to a real person who worries about the child (father or mother), who is in fact concerned about child’s destiny. 

Certainly, the lawyer will represent your interests in the court, but in such cases emotions matter a lot.

How to get a Russian visa?

Please, pay attention that citizens of most of the countries will have to receive visa to visit the Russian Federation. Certainly, the lawyer who will represent your interests in the Russian Federation will help you to get this visa as fast as possible. 

How will the trial be held?

The hearing will be scheduled for a specific time, there will come a plaintiff, I hope a defendant, a guardianship officer, a prosecutor. For sure there will participate lawyers, in some cases witnesses or the child. And all these people will provide evidence and state their arguments about the situation that is heard in the court.

In the Russian Federation prosecutor’s representative always takes part in cases of such category and gives his or her conclusion on how justified the child return is to the country where he or she was abducted from. At the same time there always participate guardianship officers, that is the childhood support service that exists in the Russian Federation. 

As a rule, the session is not the only one. The court continues to examine the case in several sessions what means that it will be adjourned. The trial in the Russian Federation is adjourned for 2 or 3 weeks that means you should understand that you would have to come to the Russian Federation several times if you want to participate in the trial in person. 

Is the interpreter needed in the court?

All the court procedure in the Russian Federation is held in Russian. That means that you won’t do without an interpreter, even if you speak Russian well but you live abroad and are a foreigner, I insist that you need an interpreter, at least not to get lost when you hear an unknown word or some kind of judicial structure is unclear. The interpreter will help you in this situation. 

You should also testify in your native language. That way you would explain the court more even though you speak Russian fair enough. You would better correct the interpreter if he or she interprets wrong from your point of view than you would speak with simple phrases or you wouldn’t explain some details that are important to communicate to the judge. That is why the interpreter is definitely needed.

Where the trial is held?

You would apply to the court at the domicile of defendant. In the Russian Federation there are 10 courts in a number equal to the number of federal districts (the union of several regions). The courts that examine the cases under the Convention are situated in Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Rostov, Pyatigorsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk. Depending on where the child that was abducted is located, one of these courts would examine your case. For instance, if your spouse removed the child to Tula region, the court that would examine your case is situated in Moscow. If the child was removed, for example, to Crimea then the court of Rostov waits for you.

Who is needed in the court?

In the court you will definitely need lawyer’s help. Despite the fact that Russian law allows you to represent yourself in court, nevertheless I insist that your interests were represented by the professional legal advisor. Besides, if your opportunities allow you, it’s better to bring the witnesses to participate in the process so that they testify. I will explain you what for. 

The opposite party would say that allegedly there are some exceptions under which the court must not return the child to the country where he or she was abducted from. For example, it is often said that a husband allegedly beat his wife or there were created unbearable economic conditions of living or some other arguments. Witness testimonies have to shatter them. That is why if your family friends or relatives come to the trial, it will be not only your moral support but a way to provide Russian court with certain evidence – witness testimonies.

How soon will there be a court decision and how soon will it be enforced?

Under the Convention the state that signed it, in particular the Russian Federation shall take the most expeditious measures, the most expeditious procedures for child return. Under the code of civil procedure such case must be examined in 6 weeks – 42 days. However, this deadline is often not met. 

The execution of court decision is possible after it comes into force, and this also takes some time as there must be examined a complaint against court decision – an appeal. It also takes 3 months more. That is why I wouldn’t count on child return earlier than four, five, six months since judicial recourse. 

But for sure there is always an opportunity to resolve the issue voluntarily and this way it won’t take so long time. In this case you won’t do without an intermediary in the form of a lawyer. 

Is it possible to appeal against the court decision?

The court decision that doesn’t satisfy one of the parties can be appealed. In this case the Russian court doesn’t differ from courts in other countries. There are 10 days to lodge an appeal since the adjudication. But the court of appeal will examine this case at least for 2 months. Anyway, now there is such a practice. That is why by appealing against court decision, you should understand that you defer its entry into force for two months more.

Here are the main points you should know about the judicial procedure on child return under the international treaty in the Russian court. Next time we will talk how the court decision on child return will be enforced.