Parental Disputes on Family Breakdown

Two main questions which always  arise in respect of children in parental disputes on family breakdown are:

However, the difference between  two  parents in terms of the scope of their rights and duties  is not clear cut in a legal system, which has never had the concept of custody, such as Russia.

The Notion of Parental Rights and Duties

Instead, the notion ‘parental rights and duties’ has been used in the Russian Family Code since its conception in 1926 meaning an integral legal institution.  So parents of a child, whether they are married or not, have equal parental rights and duties towards their child. In the context of Russian substantive family and procedural law,  parental disputes are in fact place of a child’s residence disputes. In such disputes, the residential parent and non-residential (or visiting) parent is to be determined.   Thus, place of a child’s residence, results in a shift of volume of daily care of a child being moved towards a  residential parent.

The Rights of a Non-Residential Parent

According to Art. 66 of the Russian Family Code, a non-residential parent is entitled to maintain contact with the child and to participate in his/her upbringing and education. Parents may sign a parenting plan. If not, then  dispute between them shall be heard by a court, with the participation of a local child protection body.  Besides, it is extablished by law that the  residential parent should not hinder the child’s contact with the other parent (unless such contact undermines the child’s physical or psychological health or moral development).  In practice however, the residential parent may exert a psychological manipulation over a child to provoke hostility towards other parent – a so-called ‘parental alienation syndrome‘ (the term was introduced by an American child psychiatrist Richard Gardner in 1985).

In addition, local child protection body may  assist a non-residential parent in pursuing his/her visitation  right.  In cross-border cases  a parent might apply to one of 8  courts competent  to hear cases in the framework of the 1980 Child Abduction Convention.  However the practice of cross-border cases of  visitation rights  litigation has been very scarce.

Alternate Custody

Finally, the terms ‘alternate custody’,  ‘shared residence’ are unknown to the Russian law. Neither is  the notion of ‘delegation of parental rights’.  In practice, however, parents (one of them) issue notarial powers of attorney, which allow a child  to stay with his/her grandparents.  From the legal point of view, it is an  incertain situation. Therefore, a draft bill  modifying art. 55 of the Family Code with the view to grant grandparents a legal status in loco parientis  for the periods of absence of parents, is now under consideration at the State Duma.

International Dimension of Family Law

CONTACT information

+7 977 366 13 76