Case of the Day: Kuznetsov v. Kuznetsova
Posted on June 23, 2015
The case of the day is Kuznetsov v. Kuznetsova (N.Y. App. Div. 2015). The husband and wife were married in Russia in 1991. In 2003, the husband obtained an ex parte judgment of divorce from a Russian court. In 2007, the husband then sought a divorce, and other relief, in Kings County, New York. The wife sought a declaration that the Russian divorce was valid and that the parties’ 2002 separation agreement was also valid. The husband sought a declaration that both were invalid. The judge ruled in favor of the wife, and the husband appealed.
I’m not going to consider the validity of the separation agreement. The interesting point is that the court affirmed the judgment recognizing the Russian divorce decree. The court noted that it was the husband who had sought the Russian judgment in the first place. The West headnote on the case says that “husband was precluded from attacking validity of Russian judgment in New York court, since he was party who had procured it.” Unfortunately, the decision itself isn’t so clear. While it notes that the husband procured the judgment, it casts the issue as an ordinary issue of recognition, not an issue about preclusion or estoppel.