In what has been described as a “landmark” court ruling, a mother has won the right to have her two children returned to her from Russia, where they have been staying unlawfully with their father.
The mother, Rachael Neustadt, is American but lives in London. Her ex-husband, Ilya Neustadt, was born in Russian, and has both Russian and German nationalities. The two boys had gone out to visit their father in Russia for Christmas last year, but he then refused to return them to their mother at the end of the scheduled visit.
Ms Neustadt applied to the High Court in London, which ruled that the boys should be returned to their mother. However, Mr Neustadt refused to comply.
Ms Neustadt then applied to the Russian courts to have her sons returned under the 1996 Hague Convention on parental responsibility, which Russia had only ratified in June of this year.
The Moscow City Appeal Court has now ruled in her favour and recognised the orders issued by the English High Court.
The case is apparently the first occasion on which Russia has observed the Convention.
The purpose of the Convention is to provide a structure for the issues of residence and contact which can arise when the parents are living in different countries. The Convention helps to ensure that the decisions of the court in whose jurisdiction the child is habitually resident have primacy. It is encouraging to see more jurisdictions adopting the Convention. It is to be hoped that this will reduce the difficulties that families face in these situations and improve the lives of children.
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