Mother in tug-of-love case seeks help from Russia

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A RUSSIAN court has been asked to intervene in an international tug-of-love over two boys whose father is keeping them in Russia in breach of an order made by an English judge following a marriage break-up, lawyers say.

The children’s mother – an American who lives in London – had made an application for help using a piece of international law ratified by Russia less than two months ago, said solicitors.

Rachael Neustadt, a 35-year-old former teacher from Houston, Texas, wants a court in Russia to order ex-husband Ilya Neustadt, a 36-year-old former London Metropolitan University lecturer who was born in Moscow and has dual Russian and German nationality, to return sons Daniel, seven, and Jonathan, five, to England.

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

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

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

Lawyers released details after Deputy High Court Judge Alison Russell, who has analysed the dispute at hearings in London, made an order giving Ms Neustadt permission to publicise the case.

They said the couple also had a third boy, one-year-old Meir, who was in London with Ms Neustadt.

“The children live in England and their home is in London. Rachael and Ilya had separated, but Ilya was seeing the children. The couple have three children together. The baby, Meir, remains with his mother,” said a spokeswoman for Dawson Cornwell.

“Rachael had only agreed to the children going on a holiday with their father to Russia to visit his family over the school Christmas break. Ilya was to bring the children back to England in time for the new school term. As a result of the abduction, the children are now completely separated from their mother, who has always been their primary carer, and from their younger brother.

“Rachael issued proceedings in the English High Court for the return of the children after their abduction. The children are now wards of the English High Court and the court has ordered that Ilya must return the children to England.”