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

I would need a consultation, not about divorce, but about marriage. I am Canadian, my fiance lives in Russia. We'd like to get married in Costa Rica, partly in order to avoid bureacracy in Russia and 30 days waiting period.

Is there any problem, from the Russian law point of view, regarding such marriage in a foreign country?

Are there any complications which can arrive in the future? For instance, if there is a divorce (I'm very hopeful it won't be one, but still, I must ask).

Does the marriage need to be registered at the local Zags? What if she changes the name after marriage?

If we decide though to get married in Russia, is there any way in which you or someone you know could facilitate the marriage there?

Please let me know what is the required fee and the payment modality for the consultation.


Marriage registration in a third country will probably communicate an exotic touch to the relationship, but will, in my opinion, complicate some procedures in general.

Having the marriage registered in Costa Rica, your wife will face a lot of problems in Russia. According to the data I have, Costa Rica is not a participant in the Hague Convention 1961, that is why to make the document valid in Russia she will have to get through the multi-step procedure of consular legalization.

With a foreign marriage certificate bearing no apostil, she will find difficulty in exchanging her passport if she changes her surname, or in applying for divorce if it should happen in your life, she will have difficulty in recovering this document in case of its loss.

I suppose that a 30-day waiting period established by the Registry Office should not be a drawback to marriage registration in Russia. Firstly, this period can be reduced, if, for instance, your visa is about to expire or you have a valid ticket for a certain date. Secondly, even the 30-day waiting cannot be compared to difficulties faced by people who have their marriage registered abroad and use their foreign marriage certificate.

Marriage registration in Russia is easy. In addition to a standard set of documents you also have to submit a notarial translation of your national passport and a certificate issued by Canada`s Consulate confirming that you are not officially married. You should pay attention to how our name is spelt in Russian and see that your name is spelt the same in all your documents.

Undoubtedly, the most important issue is having a marriage contract. The place of signing a contract depends on where the spouses live. If you are going to live in Canada a contract should better be signed in Canada. If you are planning to live in Russia a contract should better be signed in Russia. You could also sign 2 contracts, one in Canada and one in Russia, spelling out in each of them the future of the property in both countries.

Should you wish to annul your marriage in the future you will also find it easier to do so in Russia having your Russian marriage certificate. The thing is that Canada never signed the Hague Convention, and the documents issued in Canada are also subject to consular legalization. This is a multi-step time-consuming procedure involving additional difficulties.

I wish you a happy family life.

Articles and consultations authored by attorney reflect the state of law as of the date of their writing. The laws change daily. Users of this site are advised to consult attorney regarding their situation.
Karina Duvall
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