Blow for ex-teacher in Russian tug-of-love over sons

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A British-based former teacher embroiled in an international tug-of-love fight with her Russian ex-husband over custody of their two sons has suffered a setback.

Rachael Neustadt – an American who lives in London – says ex-husband Ilya Neustadt is keeping Daniel, seven, and Jonathan, five, in Russia in breach of an order made by an English judge following a marriage break-up

She has asked Russian judges to intervene – using a piece of international law ratified by Russia earlier this year – but her lawyers said a Moscow court has made a ruling in favour of Mr Neustadt. The the case is due to be reconsidered at a hearing in Russia later this month.

Ms Neustadt, a 36-year-old former teacher from Houston, Texas, wants Russian judges to order ex-husband Ilya Neustadt, a 37-year-old former London Metropolitan University lecturer who was born in Moscow and has dual Russian and German nationality, to return their sons to England.

Solicitors said the boys had been visiting their father in Russia for Christmas but he had refused to return them to their mother in London in January.

Ms Neustadt began legal action and a judge sitting in the High Court in London ordered Mr Neustadt to return the boys to England, but he has not complied, solicitors said.

London law firm Dawson Cornwell, which represents Ms Neustadt, said an application had been made following Russia’s ratification of an international convention relating to cross-border disputes between parents in June.

She is now hoping the English High Court’s “return orders” would be “enforced” in Russia under the international convention so the children can be returned to London.

Her husband, however, has claimed international co-operation in child abduction matters is inherently unconstitutional in Russia. He has also argued that as he is not a British national, he is therefore not obligated to comply with any English court orders.

Mr Nuestadt also says his move to Moscow with the boys was pre-planned and mutually agreed between him and his wife, and that she changed her mind at the last moment about joining him and the boys in Moscow.

A Dawson Cornwell spokeswoman said: “Following a 10-minute hearing, Rachael faced a setback when the Moscow Court of Appeal accepted a welfare document presented by the father, including documentary evidence of his rented apartment in Moscow and arguments as to why the children should remain with him in Russia, including reasons such as the paternal grandmother being happy to raise her grandchildren.”