Helping a loving father to return his child from the United States to St. Petersburg and a mother’s life sentence for domestic violence.
On October 15, 2023, citizen D turned to us for legal and other assistance, upon the illegal detention in the United States of his minor son, a citizen of the Russian Federation, Maksim, born in 2013, by the former spouse of citizen M.
Thus, according to the principal, in July 2023, D gave the necessary consent to his ex-wife to take their minor son from the Russian Federation on a two-weeks-vacations to Houston, Texas, USA.
In early August 2023, the ex-wife M explained to our principal during their telephone conversation, that she categorically would not to return their child to Russia and that her son (Maksim) would permanently live with her in the United States. After this conversation, D’s ex-wife blocked the means of communication available to her son with his father, including the built-in APPLE IOS parental control application.
According to the principal, it was the end of August 2023 when Maksim called him using FaceTime on his phone. During this FaceTime call, the minor reported that his mother had deceived him by saying that they had only been going on vacations to the US, and she had had no intention of returning him home to Russia. And then, contrary to his desire, he was forced to stay in the United States with his mother (the child has been living exclusively with his father in St. Petersburg, Russia for the last 5 years).
After the son’s confession, the principal began recording all video/audio calls of his son. During these calls and among other things, the minor Maksim informed his father that his mother had had changed a lot; she had begun to use physical, psychological and other violence to his regular demands to return him to his father in Russia. Generally, she began to mistreat him and he was afraid of her: to discuss his father with her or the possibility of returning to Russia meant to provoke her flashes of anger and violence against her son. He also said that several times in a similar state of anger his mother had thrown scissors, a kitchen knife and other objects at him.
On September 15, 2023, the principal provided these video and audio materials to the Federal State Budgetary Institution “Northwestern District Scientific and Clinical Center named after L.G. Sokolov of Federal Medical and Biological Agency” (ФГБУ СЗОНКЦ им. Л.Г. Соколова ФМБА России) in order to make an examination of these records.
The following questions were raised for the specialist’s examination:
- What is the psychoemotional state of the child in these videos?
- Can the mother’s behavior negatively affect the child’s psychoemotional state?
- Does the child’s psychological state correspond to the circumstances described by the child?
- Is there physical and psychological violence against a minor, if so, by whom?
- Are there any circumstances preventing the child from communicating with one of the parents?
- What is the nature of the child’s relationship with each of the parents?
During the examination of the submitted records, experts made categorical conclusions that the child was in danger with his mother and it had a strong physical and psychological impact on him.
Having learned about the child’s repeated FaceTime calls to his father, the ex-wife decided to completely deprive him (Maksim) of access to his phone and other gadgets.
In September 2023, the father tried to get a visa at the U.S. Consulate in Kazakhstan, but they refused.
We (the team of lawyer A.Kuznetsov) requested an urgent interview with the U.S. Consulate in Kyrgyzstan, as a result of which an urgent interview was scheduled and a visa to the United States was approved.
In early December 2023, lawyer A. Kuznetsov arrived from New York to Houston, USA, in order to compile and submit the required papers and forms for the Family Court for protection and recognition in the Houston Family Court of the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation over the child (at that time Maksim lived in the United States for less than 6 months).
After receiving a passport for traveling abroad with a visa, our principal went to Houston, USA.
On December 5, 2023, we intended to submit a prepared petition and an urgent order for the protection of the minor Maksim to the Houston Family Court, although, Maksim found an opportunity to contact his father and informed him that in the period from December 7 to December 10, 2023, his mother and her current boyfriend were taking him to a sports competition in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
We decided to file an urgent order to the Family Court of the city of Las Vegas recognizing the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, in order to obtain a court order for the return of the minor Maksim to the Russian Federation.
On December 7, 2023, lawyer A. Kuznetsov and the father arrived in Las Vegas, where an urgent petition to remove the child and return to his Russian Federation was filed .
However, on the day of submission of these documents (December 8, 2023) Maksim found an opportunity to contact his father again. He began to cry and ask his father not to wait for the court decision and immediately take him away from his mother; the child told his father the address of the hotel where he was staying. The principal decided to take a taxi to the hotel in order to see and reassure his son.
During the meeting, Maksim informed his father that his mother and her boyfriend had abused him. In addition, he said that his mother and her boyfriend were doing sex in the room of this hotel, the boyfriend repeatedly used violence against him: punched him in the chest, which caused attacks of suffocation and short-term respiratory arrest…
After listening to his son, the principal decided to immediately take the child away as he considered that any delay in this matter directly threatens the life, health and mental state of his son.
Upon the return of the principal and his son, the latter told us (to lawyer A. Kuznetsov and his team) and his father all the details of the relationship with his mother and her current boyfriend. As a result, the father without waiting for a decision on the petition filed with the Las Vegas family court decided to leave for Los Angeles airport, from where he (the principal) and his son intended to carry out a transatlantic flight on the route “Los Angeles, USA — Istanbul, Turkey — St. Petersburg, Russia”.
On December 8, 2023, at about 8:00 p.m., the principal and his minor son drove from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
On December 9, 2023, at about 9:00 a.m., they arrived at the International Airport of Los Angeles, USA, where the father and son passed border control, but before boarding the plane they were stopped by FBI and the Child Protective Services (guardianship authorities). Afterwards they were offered, exclusively voluntarily (due to the fact that the principal is the father of the child, is not limited in his rights, has all the necessary documents and the voluntary consent and desire of the child to follow with him) go to the interrogation as there was a “call” about the possible abduction of the child. The principal had the legal opportunity to refuse, but decided to explain the essence of what was happening and then carry out the planned flight.
During the conversation (interrogation), the minor Maksim explained to the employees of the above-mentioned special services of the United States that his father had not kidnap him; the minor asked him to take him away, because he was afraid of his mother and her boyfriend; he said that he had ended up in the United States as a result of his mother’s deception, that the mother and her boyfriend cause various violence against him and other unacceptable actions, including those directly prohibited by criminal law. He asked to let him and his father go home to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he wants to live with his father.
After this interrogation, the minor – a citizen of the Russian Federation was taken by the US special services placed in a shelter for 72 hours. His father was interrogated and released due to the fact that his action legally did not include any actions prohibited by US law.
Further, on December 13, 2023, a court hearing on family violence by one of the parents (mother) against a minor citizen of the Russian Federation was scheduled in the Los Angeles Family Court (201 Centre Plaza Dr, Monterey Park, CA); and the question of the very possibility of transferring this minor to one of his parents into custody was also raised… However, on the eve, on December 12, 2023, at about 8:00 a.m., Maksim was returned to his father; they also got all the papers to leave the United States.
Employees of the US special services explained to us that a report had been prepared and sent to the police regarding the mother and her boyfriend, then they would face up to life imprisonment and everything would depend on the testimony of Maksim and his father.
According to the practice of the state of Texas, USA, the prosecutor’s office requested only 43 years in prison for the child’s mother in a similar case, although, considering this insufficient, the court imposed more severe sentence — 93 years in prison with the right to appeal after 30 years.
On December 15, 2023, our principal and his son left the United States, and on December 17, 2023, they arrived home in their native city – St. Petersburg. We are sincerely glad that we were directly involved and could help a truly loving parent, – a father, to bring his son back.
P.S: Before being kidnapped by his mother, Maksim had been playing hockey professionally for many years. During his stay in the United States, he continued to play sports. He has an obvious professional future, which was the motive for his mother to kidnap him and take him to the United States, because there is possible to sign money contracts with young athletes starting at the age of 11. The amounts of contracts concluded with gifted children are impressive.
Hence, on December 7, 2023, during the professional youth Games in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, striker Maxim played for the Houston team (Texas, USA) against the Vancouver team (Canada). As a result, he scored 6 goals, the game ended with a score of 7-0 in favor of the Houston team.
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