Why those who escaped from Russia may lose their property and the opportunity to see their children


With the start of a special military operation (SVO), some citizens decided to leave Russia for a while in order to wait out the turbulent times and the effects of Western sanctions in the distance. The stay of these Russians in “abroad remote work” turned out in different ways: someone managed to get a job with a foreign employer, someone continued to work for Russian companies remotely, and someone survives by odd jobs or income from rent from real estate left in RF. However, with the onset of 2023, some of the relocators, not finding prospects for a normal life abroad, hastened to return to their homeland. True, some of these returnees decided to take advantage of the situation and improve their financial situation by judicially dividing the property of the spouses who remained abroad in their favor.

Quiet Court

Photo © Getty Images / Jeffrey Hamilton

Photo © Getty Images / Jeffrey Hamilton

After the start of the NWO, the employer of Muscovite Natalia moved her office from the Russian capital to Dubai. The girl, as a valuable worker, was offered to relocate after the employer, which she did when she arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with her husband and six-year-old son. The company paid Natalya a certain amount as lifting money, and also hired her husband. However, two months later, the Russian woman asked the employer for a short vacation in order to take the child to the Russian Federation and hand him over to her parents, who were supposed to take care of his preschool and school education.

Natalia’s husband stayed in the UAE, and the girl returned to Russia, where she immediately filed for divorce, property division and alimony. Until September, the husband did not know anything about the court, because all the summonses came to the address of the Moscow apartment in which Natalya lived at that time. The girl, under various pretexts, explained to the man that her return was still being postponed. And as soon as the court decision took place, she told her husband that she planned to divorce him. The man wanted to come to the Russian Federation, but he was afraid because of the announced partial mobilization, and the lawyer he hired found out that the court decision had already entered into force.

Now Natalia’s ex-husband is trying to challenge the court decisions, because in fact he parted with half of his property (one of the three-room apartments in the center of the capital, a car and a certain amount in an account in Russian banks) and became a debtor for alimony. At the same time, the man has the formal right to see the child, but in practice this does not happen, since the child lives in Moscow, and his father continues to work in the UAE.

Experts explain that in this situation, a man is unlikely to be able to challenge the court decision on divorce and division of property.

– The responsibility for receiving correspondence lies with the defendant, and if the man cannot provide evidence that he lived and worked at a different address and the plaintiff knew this, then there is little chance of a different division of property and a different determination of the place of residence of the child, explains Polina Gusyatnikova, Senior Managing Partner at PG Partners. – In theory, if the ex-husband provides a certificate from the employer that he and his wife worked together, there is hope to prove that the woman knew about the actual whereabouts of her husband. But in practice, the court will evaluate any evidence, and the decision will be valid until it is canceled.

Russian surprise during childbirth abroad

Photo © Freepik / peoplecreations

In September 2022, a young Russian couple left for Argentina to give birth to their child in this country and thus give the baby a second citizenship. Immediately after giving birth, the man returned to Russia to work and provide for his family, while the woman remained in Buenos Aires. In October, relatives told her that her husband had sold the car and apartment he had before marriage. The woman tried to contact her husband, but he did not get in touch and immediately stopped sending money. The young mother hurried to Moscow, where she learned that, along with the apartment and transport, she had lost a couple of tens of thousands of foreign currency that was stored in the apartment. After going to court, she learned that her husband had officially quit the fitness center where he worked before the trip to Argentina, and now he is not formally registered anywhere and officially not employed, although in fact he works as a private fitness trainer in the same place earlier.

Currently, the girl is trying to file a divorce through the courts and obtain alimony, and on the fact of the disappearance of money, she was refused by law enforcement officers, since there is no evidence that the amount indicated by her was stored in her ex-husband’s apartment.

– If a girl wants to get a divorce, then this is her right and the court will carry out this procedure even without the participation of her ex-husband, argues the lawyer of the Moscow Regional Bar Association Bogdan Leskiv. – But with the reclamation of property, everything can be not at all simple. The man had the right to dispose of his premarital property, and as for the currency, he would have to try very hard, proving that it was not spent by the couple together.

Trigger of problems

Photo © Freepik

– Now many who, having gone to a foreign land in the hope of gaining some advantages for themselves, find themselves circled around their fingers, State Duma deputy Alexander Tolmachev approves. – In Russia, the heroes of both stories simply would not have got into such situations. Our current legislation clearly prescribes the rights and obligations of spouses to each other and excludes such fraud.

Partially, the deputy’s statement is confirmed by experts in the field of family psychology. For example, counseling psychologist and art therapist Elena Stasova points out that the variant of a relationship in which one of the spouses treats the other as a resource is not new, but relocation could become an impetus for the desire to quickly solve their problems at the expense of the other.

– Both situations arose against the current socio-political background, and the departure from the Russian Federation was used as a convenient excuse, notes Stasov.

But State Duma deputy Alexei Zhuravlev is sure that situations where relocation is used as a way for personal material gain should be resolved in the Russian legal field only simultaneously with the study of the issue of the reasons for departure.

– Everyone who left the country with the beginning of the special operation should be dealt with: why and why he fled and what convictions he has. If these people fundamentally made a choice not in favor of Russia, but for the sake of their material gain, then perhaps their funds should be nationalized, and the proceeds should be used to finance the NWO. Our state should not tolerate schemers.


Photo © Shutterstock

Should the Russian court protect those who fled the country?

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