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In court child custody disputes, child protective services are required to get involved and participate in the case.

Such disputes include:

  • disputes on the child’s home if the parents live separately;
  • disputes on a parent’s exercising of custody rights who is living separately from the child;
  • disputes on eliminating obstacles for a child’s close relatives to talking to the child;
  • disputes on the stripping of custody rights;
  • disputes on the restoration of custody rights;
  • disputes on the restriction of custody rights.

The objective of the child protective services is to examine the living conditions of the parties and prepare a conclusion in the lawsuit. Without those documents, the court will not have the right to issue a case ruling.

In practice, an array of issues arises revolving around the role of these authorities in examining the category of disputes as well as the procedure for their actions. We will try to answer the most frequently asked questions.

1. In what capacity are child protective services involved to take part in the case?

The participation of child protective services in disputes related to the custody the children is regulated by article 47 of the CPC of the Russian Federation and, consequently, the child protective services act as the authority with the right to issue a conclusion on the case. In this format, it’s worth indicating the child protective services in the lawsuit, denoting them as “The Entity authorized to provide a conclusion on the lawsuit”.

Thus, it would be incorrect to indicate the child protective services as third parties.

2. What child protective services exactly need to be involved to take part in the case?

By law, there is no straightforward indication of which territorial child protection services must be involved to take part in the case.

Meanwhile, situations frequently occur in which the actual place of residence of the children differs from their place of registration. Is it then advisable to involve only the child protective services at the actual place of the children's residence to participate in the case?

We imagine that it's better to involve in a case's participation child protective services based on the place of residence of the plaintiff, the actual place of residence of the child, and the place of residence of the defendant.

The child protective services designated to the registration address of the children must reflect in the conclusion that the children do not in fact live there. Having such a document will reduce the risk that a ruling will be overridden in an appeals court with reference to the fact that there is no conclusion from the child protective services designated to the children's registration address in the case materials.

3. What must be reflected in the living conditions examination act?

The act of the examination of the living conditions of a minor citizen and their family is a regulated document written up in the established form.

The procedure for conducting an examination of the living conditions of minor children and their families is approved by order #4 of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation on 1/10/2019.

In the examination act, a multitude of other aspects of the child’s life must be listed, aside from the living conditions themselves: their appearance, primary case, social adaptation, the people living with the child, the relationships between those people, and other aspects.

Consequently, if in the living conditions examination act, nothing more is made than a description  of the room that the child is living in, such an act is incomplete and is in contradiction with the law. It's recommended to comment in the written explanations that the examination act of the child's living conditions is incomplete.

4. What must be contained in the lawsuit’s child custody services conclusion?

The lawsuit conclusion must reflect the position of the child protective services relative to their ability to fulfill the requirements declared in the lawsuit with consideration of all the evidence contained in the case materials.

For this reason, it's presumed that the conclusion of the child protective services must only be produced and provided into the case materials after all of the other case evidence is collected.

For instance, suppose a court psychological and psychiatric expertise is appointed for the case. The child protective services must only issue their conclusion on the lawsuit after familiarizing themselves with the conclusion of the experts.

Consequently, if the child protective services provide their conclusion before the moment that all the necessary case evidence is collected, such a child protective services conclusion is deemed baseless.

5. How does the court evaluate the act on the examination of a minor’s living conditions and the conclusion of the child protective services for the lawsuit?

It should be taken into account that no evidence for a court is  established with any force in advance. All evidence is evaluated by the court in its totality while each piece of evidence is evaluated separately for relativity, veracity, and admissibility.

Consequently, the positions of child protective services on lawsuit requirements are not required for the court, which always gets the last word.

However, the lack of a conclusion, regardless of what it contains, renders a court making a ruling on the case impossible.

In the case that there are conclusions of child protective services presented into the case materials that contradict each other, the court must take one of them as the foundation for the court ruling, throwing out for well-founded reasons the statements of one of the conclusions or throwing out both conclusions while indicating the reasons.

Court disputes on a child(ren) aren't so easy to conduct as it may seem at first blush (especially in a situation where the parents are in fierce opposition to each other). The times when the child(ren) have just been left to their mothers is a thing of the past. Ever more often, fathers are laying claim to their child(ren) to obtain primary custody.

Building a proper stance, collecting the relevant evidence, regularly preparing the procedural documents (explanations, objections, etc.), and properly speaking out in court is impossible without the professional assistance of a lawyer.

We specialize in handling family cases. We invite you to contact our specialists in advance, as early as the stage in which you're planning out the steps to take, rather than only at the point that the court hearing for your case's examination has been scheduled. You can send your consultation request to the address law@pravoislovo.ru.

Child Protective Services Acts in Child Custody Disputes

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