How a small document (or lack thereof) can create big problems: a cautionary tale from a lawyer - ForumDaily
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How a small document (or lack thereof) can create big problems: a cautionary tale from a lawyer

I recently received an email from an old client with her new problems. The story is so instructive that I decided to share it with my readers. The moral of this fable is this: all documents must be kept in order, there are no trifles here.

Photo: IStock

Once upon a time there lived a family of Russian immigrants in New York. The husband had long since become an American, and the wife was a new American who had recently moved to New York from a small provincial Russian city. She didn’t like life in New York, just like America in general; her husband also didn’t live up to expectations. Therefore, the woman decided to leave him, and at the same time end her American life - and returned home to her provincial hometown.

By that time she was already pregnant, and the child was born in Russia. My father had no particular objections to this, and even if there were, he did not voice them. Therefore, everything remained the same: the father is in America, the mother with the child is in Russia. The confrontation between them began much later, when the mother filed a divorce suit in an American court, which included demands for custody, alimony, spousal support and division of property. The husband did not like such a divorce plan, and in response he filed a divorce suit with the Russian court at the place of residence of the wife and child.

At this point, I stepped in. The client approached me with a request to get the case dismissed in Russia, as it was already pending in America. And contrary to the darkest expectations, we succeeded. The case in the Russian Federation was closed, as the American case had been started earlier. The husband strongly disagreed with this decision, appealed it in all instances, but the courts remained adamant.

And then the husband, through his lawyers, filed a motion to dismiss the case in the United States, since, according to him, New York is the wrong and inconvenient place for the case, since the wife and child live in Russia, where most of the evidence is located, and it is Russia, with his point of view, is the only correct place to hear the case. These arguments looked so ridiculous and absurd that the wife did not even consider it necessary to answer them. And what happened is what usually happens when one side asks and the other does not object - a judge in New York closed the case, recognizing the jurisdiction of Russia.

Then, inspired by the victory, the husband again filed a divorce suit in Russia, but the judge refused to accept the statement of claim, considering that the case was not under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, but within the jurisdiction of the court in the United States.

We will not go into discussions about the legality of the decisions made by the courts: no one tried to appeal them, so we will assume that they are legal. That is, both jurisdictions - American and Russian - recognized that they did not have the right to consider this divorce case.

You will be surprised, but the marriage, however, ended ... due to the death of one of the spouses. The husband, while on vacation in St. Petersburg, slipped on the tiles in the bathroom and died in intensive care.

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All these facts became known to me much later. The fact is that the court recognized the deceased's mother and son as heirs, completely ignoring his wife. She tried to appeal this decision, appealed to all Russian courts, but her claim was denied. You will ask why? After all, the marriage is not dissolved, ”and you will be absolutely right.

But in civil proceedings there are a few simple rules:

  • each proves what he refers to;
  • no evidence has a predetermined force for the court;
  • circumstances recognized by the court as well-known do not need to be proven;
  • the circumstances of the case, which, in accordance with the law, must be confirmed by certain means of proof, cannot be confirmed by any other evidence.

The plaintiff's mistake, as it turned out when studying the case materials, was that she did not prove to the court the fact of marriage with the deceased. Obviously, she considered this circumstance to be well known, but the court in St. Petersburg did not know this fact, and there was only one way to prove it - by providing the court with a marriage certificate with an apostille.

That is, it was enough for the client to contact our New York office to obtain a marriage certificate with an apostille, and she would become the full owner of 1/3 of the inheritance property. I will say more, it was possible to request a marriage certificate from the provincial court, which had previously tried to consider a divorce. But this was not done, and now it is too late to do this, since the appellate instance does not accept new evidence.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New Y.

This story is very sad, but also very instructive. If you have read the article up to this point, check if you have all the documents available. The minimum package of documents should consist of the following:

  1. Birth certificate. The original, not a copy. Not a notarized copy. Not a notarized copy with an apostille. Not a notarized translation made from a copy. No, no and NO. Only the original, that is, a document issued by the registry office, including a repeated one.
  2. Marriage certificate. Also the original. No copies with the most beautiful seals and ropes will replace the original for you.
  3. Name change noticeif you changed your last name during marriage, and if this marriage is dissolved.
  4. Court decision on divorce or certificate of dissolution of marriage (depending on the jurisdiction in which the marriage was dissolved).
  5. Birth certificates of your children.
  6. Death certificates of your deceased relatives.
  7. Certificate of Naturalization (if applicable).
  8. District court decision to change surname (if applicable).
  9. And of course - of the passport. Remember that neither moving to another country, nor obtaining another citizenship, in most cases, does not terminate your original citizenship. And your decision not to renew, for example, a Russian passport, does not terminate your citizenship, but not having a valid passport can create many problems in the present and future.

If you find that you are missing some important documents, you lost or left them with your ex-wife (husband), the documents were damaged by fire or flood, write to us — we will restore for you any document in the registry office, in any jurisdiction.

Thus, you will be potentially ready for any judicial or administrative process, and you will not have to lose months in a limited time to restore the necessary documents, for example, for entering into an inheritance.

By the way, you can also enter into an inheritance through Our New York office. Even if your documents are not in order and / or incomplete, we will correct the errors and restore the missing ones.

Material prepared in partnership with

Karina Duval - lawyer, notary, expert in international law

Russian registration: #78/857
NYS registration: 4775086
Notary public, registration: 02DU6376542

tel: + 7 (921) 946-0582 (in Russia) / + 1 (718) 704-8558 (in USA)
Email:
[email protected],
Website:
https://karinaduvall.com/
www.integrika.com

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