Divorce, Separation, and Immigation from Russia to the UK
June 1, 2005 3:22 AM   Subscribe

Hi all -- no doubt you've all heard this tale before, the storybook boy meets girl, girl moves back to Russia, boy serenades girl for 2 years, girl gets married to boy in UK, boy then becomes complacent and arrogant and ignores girl, girl leaves boy but doesn't officially separate, time passes, girl moves on and starts new life in new city, meets new boy and decide to get married; boy when hearing this short circuits and makes girl's life living hell just before 2 year marriage visa is due to run out, girl has to leave country and new boy trying to figure out what to do. So I'm the new boy. The girl is from Russia. The unpleasant tangled web leads me to urgently search for good legal advice on the combination of immigation and marriage. Any advice or recommended contacts?

A few lawyers / solicitors have been contacted but in general their brief seems to be uselessly narrow -- either they do immigation / naturalisation or do divorce, but we haven't found anyone who could help with the whole picture.

It's one of those life-defining moments, so naturally I turn to the wonderful Metafilter community and see what rich seams of sage advice I can dig up.

thanks in advance to all!
posted by kiwi.es to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some of the regulars on the uk.legal.moderated newsgroup know a bit on UK immigration law, and others might be able to point you to a more useful solicitor. I'd ask there.
posted by grouse at 3:25 AM on June 1, 2005

Citizens Advice Bureau have listings of local solicitors and their specialised areas. They've helped me out on a couple of occasions finding the right people to talk to, covering employment and immigration issues.

Good luck.
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:54 AM on June 1, 2005

Run. Away.
posted by Doohickie at 4:44 AM on June 1, 2005

I don't know anything about British law, but if the current husband can make a divorce difficult, you may have a long, frustrating struggle with this. As flip as Doohickie's advice seems, it may wind up being what you wish you'd done.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:33 AM on June 1, 2005

I don't see doohickie's advice as flip at all - It's exactly what I was going to say. Or perhaps not to run, but walk away at least.

You got close friends? What do they say? In times of emotional attachment, we tend to ignore their advice and see the other through those fabled "rose colored glasses." My direct experience is that they should be listened to.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:56 AM on June 1, 2005

Yeah, sometimes there's something romantic about a sense of urgency and the defiance of a seemingly star-crossed love. It's an illusion, as many survivors of adultery will candidly tell you. Ask yourself, if this legal battle takes 5-8 years, are you still down?
posted by Miko at 7:36 AM on June 1, 2005

IANAL, and your question is rather vague (perhaps deliberately so) regarding the specifics, but I'll throw my two cents in anyway:

1) Have you verified her story? As an outside observer, all sorts of alarm bells are going off in my head regarding this. The tune they are ringing is: its a scam. The facts: she came to the UK, married a guy, left him but didn't get a divorce (which allowed her to stay in the country), then when the visa was running out met another guy and decided to get married to him, having conveniently forgotten to take care of her previous marriage. Hmmmmmmm. Is the guy irrationally angry and making her life a living hell out of spite, or justifiably pissed off at having been taken for a ride? If I were you, I'd make damn sure that you are getting the complete, honest truth about this matter before getting tangled up in legal and/or marriage proceedings - lest, a few months from now, ask mefi gets a plaintive question from you wondering how the love of your life could have abandoned you only a few months afer marrying you (and getting that all-important visa). [One way to suss this out would be to offer to move to Russia, and see how enthusiastic she is about the idea].

2) Even assuming that the story as you tell it is 100% accurate, ask yourself: is this really my problem? Yes, I know you're in love with her and want to spend the rest of your life with her. But you didn't get yourself in this situation, she did, and its her responsibility to extricate herself from it. If she really loves you, she'll recognize that, and will do whatever it takes to ensure that you're together. Given her history, I'd be more than a bit wary about taking any responsibility regarding the matter. She sounds impulsive and irresponsible - compellingly romantic qualities, to be sure, but not good ones when heading into complicated legal/romantic entanglements.
posted by googly at 8:04 AM on June 1, 2005

Run like the wind.
posted by bshort at 8:06 AM on June 1, 2005

I'm no lawyer and have never been through the British immigration wringer HOWEVER my advice would be to call some immigration lawyers and ask them have they dealt with cases where one partner is getting divorced. Keep calling til you find one who has.

As regards the advice to run away - myself and my other half have been through the immigration and sponsorship nonsense (in two different countries!), and I can tell you it can be more stressful, confusing and expensive than you imagine. But as long as you're prepared for it and SURE you want to get hitched, you'll get there.

The other alternatives to stay together are work or study visas - while googly says it's her responsibility to resolve, the facts of immigration mean most of us have to rely on SOMEONE (whether spouse, employer or immediate family) for our status. If it's impossible or too tough for you to sponsor her, perhaps a college or workplace can.
posted by dublinemma at 8:16 AM on June 1, 2005

I 3rd/5th/whatever - being now mid-30s and looking back on the various romantic brouhahas in my life, the ones that took as long or longer to describe as the one you relate are the ones I look back on and think "holy hell, what was I thinking?"

What particularly troubles me is this bit:

girl gets married to boy in UK, boy then becomes complacent and arrogant and ignores girl, girl leaves boy but doesn't officially separate, time passes, girl moves on and starts new life in new city, meets new boy and decide to get married

Since a 2 year MV is issued after the marriage, this means that within 24 months girl has grown sour on the initial marriage, left boy-prime, moved, met boy-new and decided to re-marry despite not having stopped being married the first time. If this 24 month MV has not yet expired the more accurate term is not "time passes" but "a small amount of time passes."

I suggest the best thing you could do is stop being a rescuer and let this resolve in the least contentious matter possible: LET the visa expire, girl goes back to home country for some period of time and during the course of it dissolves the existing marriage.

No doubt this woman could be the best thing since sliced bread and you could be perfect for each other, however in my experience people who are surrounded by drama and strife for extended periods are usually not passively beset by these situations. Getting embroiled in it directly is likely harmful to your health.

All that said, you will no doubt not do any of that, so I'll seperate the answer I think you might actually heed into one following this one :)
posted by phearlez at 8:24 AM on June 1, 2005

I'd suggest you attempt to find a way to describe this situation to a barrister in 100 words or less and make clear your desired result as well, which your above description does not do.

We all presume it is that you want first for girl to remain in current city first and foremost and be free to marry you as a secondary goal, but perhaps not. Perhaps you'd be okay with her having to leave and you follow or her return at a future time if you could marry sooner.

Once you make this clear you can lawyer shop more expediently. It may be that you DO need someone focused on only immigration or only divorce and will have to iron the other bit out with a different lawyer later.

There's no reason you can make a dozen calls and say "I have a situation that crosses immigration and marital ground and would like to discuss how you would handle this before committing to your firm." Anyone who won't do that probably isn't for you. Anyone who will, likely will consult for free for 30 minutes before you have to open your wallet.
posted by phearlez at 8:26 AM on June 1, 2005

whoops, "there's no reason you CAN'T make a dozen calls"
posted by phearlez at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2005

phearlez offers good advice, but barristersolicitor
posted by grouse at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2005

My tone was flip, but my advice was earnest. This person has a lot of baggage. It may not be her fault, but it may be years before things clear up. If you're not doing anything else, go for it, but don't put time constraints on it.

On the other hand, her story may be essentially true, but she may be milking it because she isn't ready to get married again right now.

I think asking your friends might be a better thing to do than asking us; this situation is probably full of subtlety that can't be easily explained on a message board.
posted by Doohickie at 8:58 AM on June 1, 2005

I was involved, some years ago, with a Russian woman who seemed wonderful but started talking about a boyfriend and then an earlier marriage which wasn't really a marriage, sort of, but [insert all manner of mysterious and mutually contradictory problems here]... Not to say your situation has anything to do with mine, but I saw it wasn't going anywhere I wanted to go and got out. Just be sure you know exactly what's been going on, preferably from sources not limited to your innamorata.
posted by languagehat at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2005

Please run. As fast as you can.
posted by xmutex at 10:15 AM on June 1, 2005

Wow thanks all for your advice... one thing I do have is a signed document from previous hubbie that yes it was a genuine marriage with genuine love and yes he did screw up and yes now he really wants her back really badly. But she doesn't want him any more. She could have very easily gone back to him and renewed the visa but has chosen a very hard road instead with me as we match better. All my friends and family thinks she's wonderful -- she's very smart and creative and we have a huge amount in common.
posted by kiwi.es at 10:42 AM on June 1, 2005

Don't walk -- RUN away. You've only heard her side, and even at its best, the story is she runs away without bothering to get a divorce and wants to marry you without divorcing the original guy. If she did it to him, she'll do it to you.
posted by KRS at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2005

grouse - thanks for the heads up. Pity - barrister sounds much more interesting to my yank ears than solicitor. I'd never bothered to look up the difference before. Wasn't aware there was one!
posted by phearlez at 12:35 PM on June 1, 2005

kiwi.es I would attempt to talk to the husband privately. In person if at all possible. Assuming the the document isn't forged the back story could be enlightning.

Sorry that sounds all tin foil hatty but my gut reaction lines up with phearlez first comment.
posted by Mitheral at 12:35 PM on June 1, 2005

ya tebya loobloo !
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:54 PM on June 1, 2005

Solicitor to be here. I am not your lawyer. This is not legal advice and no responsibility can or will be taken for the veracity for anything following (or in any of my comments for that matter.)

She, not you needs the services of a good firm that practices both family and immigation law. May I suggest either Michcon de Reya or Withers LLP (I don't and won't work for either but both are v. good.)

You're going to spend a fair bit of money and it's likely to result in some time apart but you are protected by EU law if you marry her. I think that the "run" comments above are precipitate but if this is indeed "one of those life-defining moments" you may have to take a fairly large step if you intend to spend the rest of your lives together in the UK.

If I might offer some advice - albeit in ignorance of your relative financial positions - I would be cautious about being too front foot forward about paying her solicitor's bills which may well be substantial. Lots of other lawyers recommended here.
posted by dmt at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2005

Anothher avenue worth exploring may be to contact your MP - usually they're keen to help in things like this. Contact details can be found here.
posted by prentiz at 5:51 PM on June 1, 2005

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