A woman who touched off an international furor by returning her 7-year-old son to Russia 6 months after adopting him asked a Superior Court judge to enforce a Russian Federation Supreme Court case annulling the adoption.Essentially, Torry Hansen says she shouldn't have to pay child support because she is no longer a parent since Russia annulled the adoption. It's unclear, though, what that would mean about child support in Russia. An American court will ordinarily give effect to a foreign court decree, through a doctrine called international comity, but whether that will relieve Hansen of child support responsibilities depends on the terms of the Russian court decree. It seems that it isn't inconsistent with Russian law to ask for future child support even while terminating parental rights, since that's what the city council asked for in the Russian suit. I'm no expert in Russian law, so I can't say whether child support obligations end with the annulment of an adoption there.
Torry Ann Hansen sued L.L. Mityayev and A.A. Nikolayeva, as legal representatives of Russian Federation State Educational Institute Orphanage No. 19 Foster Center, in Shasta County Court.
Enforcement of the judgment would allow Hansen to avoid paying child support, according to the complaint.
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The City Council of Tverskoy, a municipality in Moscow, sued Hansen on the boy's behalf, requesting revocation of the adoption "due to the fault of the adoptive parent," Hansen says in her complaint. Tverskoy requested child support.
Hansen says she countersued the boy and his representatives, two city councils, and the orphanage "to annul the adoption through no fault of the adoptive parent," then amended the cause of action to request annulment "due to the fault of the adoptive mother or not," according to her complaint. The Moscow City Court dismissed her complaint, Hansen says.
But Russian Federation Supreme Court reversed, finding "that the annulment was necessary to protect the minor child's rights and legally protected interests, as well as the public interests. It annulled the adoption based on plaintiff's culpable conduct," according to Hansen's complaint.
But Mitayayev, the orphanage's representative, continues to pursue an order for child support against Hansen in Shelbyville, Tenn., Circuit Court, Hansen says.
"(I)n his purported capacity as the minor child's legal custodian[,] he has apparently authorized the adoption agency plaintiff used and/or the National Council for Adoption to litigate the matter in Tennessee on his behalf," Hansen says.
She asks the Superior Court to recognize and enforce the Russian Supreme Court judgment.
The other issue is that Hansen is filing this in a California court, when there's already a court decree from a Tennessee court that orders her to pay child support. The California court should recognize the Tennessee court order because of the Constitutional doctrine of full faith and credit. Yes, that Tennessee court order was entered, not after a consideration of the merits, but because Hansen failed to appear for depositions or otherwise defend the suit, but that should not prevent full faith and credit.
So, I'd say Hansen is still on the hook for child support unless the California court decides to ignore that Tennessee decree and also decides that the Russian decree relieved her of child support obligations. And I'd say both of those possibilities are relatively remote. We'll see.