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EULawyer, Lawyer
Category: French Law
Satisfied Customers: 196
Experience:  Titular Attorney (Avocat) at Ioan-Luca Vlad Law Office
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I have a question about legal custody. I currently live in

Customer Question

I have a question about legal custody. I currently live in France but both my daughter and I are American. My ex-husband is Ukrainian and he lives in Ukraine. He has no US documents at all. We separated at first when she 2 was and then got divorced. Both the divorce and marriage were in Ukraine. The divorce proceedings happened without me and in the divorce document it states that we have no children. I had it translated and notarized.
My ex-husband never helped us in any way at all. He never called to speak to my daughter as well.
We got free medical and food stamps from Social services because I did not have enough. Before getting the social help I had to officially request child support but they were not able to get it from my ex-husband since there is no agreement with Ukraine about that.
We moved to France 3 years ago because I got married again to French man. The only reason I need legal custody now is because my daughter's passport is about to end and I need my ex-husband's signature which is impossible to get. Living abroad my daughter really needs her passport since she will not be able to have any French documents until she is 18.
The last question I would like to ask, is it possible for me to make a power of attorney document for someone, so they can start the process of filing without me and I can fly there for the court date.
Or perhaps it is possible to get the judge to rule to change the birth certificate since on the divorce document it says we have no children.
Thank you for help,
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: French Law
Expert:  EULawyer replied 3 months ago.

Welcome to JustAnswer!
As your European Law expert, I am reviewing your question and will try to find a good answer for you.

Expert:  EULawyer replied 3 months ago.

Dear Diana,

Thank you for your question. I think you were considering going to Ukraine to sue your ex-husband.

However, I do not think that is necessary. According to EU Regulations, and to the Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility, all questions of child custody, separately from divorce, may be tried by the courts of the state where the child is "habitually resident" which, going by your question, are French courts.

You would need to go to your local Tribunal de Premiere Instance and sue your ex-husband for the custody, and he would be summonsed in the Ukraine, but you do not need to go to the Ukraine yourself in any way. The further advantage is that such a ruling can be easily recognized in the US, and is automatically valid in France.

The fact that your divorce ruling does not specify the child is in fact good, because your husband cannot claim that the Ukrainian court already decided on the question of custody. Since that question is undecided, you may apply to the French courts without a bar to your action.

I strongly suggest taking a local French attorney specializing in "private international law" (droit international prive) which is the branch dealing with international family matters. Legal help is available in France, for any resident, according to EU Directive and international agreements, so you may be able to obtain the attorney for free (see here:

I hope my answer is useful and look forward to your rating, which is essential to my activity.


Dr I L Vlad