Russia: Court judgement in ‘grandparent’s child access’ rights battle

A St Petersburg man, who wished to maintain contact with his grand-daughter after her adoption by another family, has won his human rights battle against Russia.

The complaint was lodged by Georgiy Ivanovich Bogonosov and Vera Vladimirovna Bogonosova and was continued by Bogonosov after the death of his ex-wife in August 2018.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Bogonosovy v. Russia (application no. 38201/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As Just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that Russia was to pay the applicant 5,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and rejected his claim in respect of costs and expenses.

Strasbourg judges learned that the applicants’ granddaughter, M., was born in 2006. Her mother, the applicants’ daughter, died in 2011, and M. continued to reside with her grandparents.

The applicants’ relatives, Mr and Ms Z., helped the applicants to look after M. and were eventually allowed to adopt her in 2013.

After facing problems maintaining post-adoption contact with his granddaughter, Bogonosov succeeded in 2015 in restoring the statutory time-limit and appealed against the adoption judgment.

The St Petersburg City Court upheld the adoption in May 2015, stating that the law did not require that relatives such as grandparents be notified of or be involved in an adoption.

On the other hand, under Article 67 of the Family Code they had a right to maintain contact with a child and could seek a court order if the adoptive parents prevented such contact.

However, when Bogonosov made such an application, the District Court discontinued the proceedings. It held that the original adoption process had not indicated that he was to continue to have family ties with the child and so he had no right to seek an order against the adoptive parents to allow contact.

In today’s decision, the European court held that the domestic courts should have assessed his request to maintain a post-adoption relationship with his granddaughter but had instead interpreted and applied the law in a way that had denied him such an examination.

He had thus been excluded completely and automatically from his granddaughter’s life and his rights had been breached.

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