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

I am an British Citizen. I left London 12 years ago and working for an international company since, with various assignments.

I married a Russian girl in July 2012 - Catholic Ceremony - NO civil Marriage. We currently live & work now in China and will both be here on work permits shortly.

We are now expecting a baby boy in July 2013. In order for the bay boy to have my surname - we must be married (i.e Civil marriage). We are currently NOT civilly married in any country.

So, we are traveling to Moscow in March to get civil marriage. My wife is preparing the paper works. I have got a notarized letter in British confirming that I have never been married.

Could you provide some advise on British Citizen (myself) getting married to a Russian Citizen in Russia. i.e in the event of a problem what is the Divorce law in Russia; and are there any course where an application could be made within the British court system?


You will need to provide to Russian ZAGS the following documents:

1) Notarized and apostilled copy of your passport;

2) Unmarried Certificate by British Domestic Authority or by British Embassy;

3) Apostilled divorce papers (if required);

4) Pregnancy certificate of your fiancee (optionally).

You will also need to register yourself in Moscow upon arrival and submit the document proving such registration (address in Moscow) to the Vital Records Office.

Instead of such proof of marital status you can submit an affidavit signed before an British consular official in Moscow. Such affidavit can be made and signed only in an British Embassy outside the country. You can also sign an affidavit before any notary (with apostille) but it may happen so that such affidavit will not be accepted by ZAGS as a proof of your marital status, while all documents executed at the British Embassy are accepted by ZAGS without any question.

As a rule, a marriage is registered upon expiration of 1 month from the date of submission of the application. In your case, this period may be reduced as your fiancée is pregnant.

As for possible divorce in the future, your property interests may be protected by conclusion of a marriage contract. Properly drafted marriage contract will allow you to avoid lawsuits related to distribution of marital property.

Russian divorces obtained without violation of laws are recognized by foreign countries including your country. I had many clients from your country and I know that many conditions have to be met before you can obtain a divorce in British including the minimum period of separation of 5 years. Russian laws do not provide for any conditions of such kind. In order to obtain a divorce in Russia at least one spouse shall be a citizen of Russia. It usually takes 3-4 months to obtain a divorce in Russia. Divorces obtained with our assistance are recognized throughout the world.

However, you should bear in mind that in case of a child custody dispute Russian courts will not give custody of a child to the spouse who is not a citizen of Russia. You will be able to meet your child and take part in the child’s life but you should not hope that the custody will be given to you.

You should also know that if the child is born in the Russian Federation, he will acquire citizenship of the Russian Federation by birth. If the child is born outside the Russian Federation, he will be able to acquire citizenship of the Russian Federation only with your consent.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any assistance now or in the future.

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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