Father defies court order over sons

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Rachael Neustadt (left) with her children, Meir, Jonathan and Daniel Jakob Neustadt (Family handout/PA) Rachael Neustadt (left) with her children, Meir, Jonathan and Daniel Jakob Neustadt (Family handout/PA)

A Russian academic embroiled in an international tug-of-love dispute with his British-based former wife has gone into hiding with their two sons in defiance of a court order, lawyers say.

Ilya Neustadt, 37, and children Daniel, seven, and Jonathan, five, are thought to be in Russia and have not been seen for several months, say solicitors representing the boys' mother Rachael Neustadt.

Lawyers said Ms Neustadt, 36, an American who lives in London, was "enormously concerned".

Ms Neustadt, a former teacher from Houston, Texas, had complained that Mr Neustadt was keeping Daniel and Jonathan in Russia in breach of orders made by a judge in England following a marriage break-up.

She had asked Russian judges to intervene, using a piece of international law ratified by Russia last year.

And her lawyers said that in November Ms Neustadt had won a ''landmark'' court ruling in Russia, when the Moscow City Appeal Court recognised High Court orders made in England.

But lawyers said today that Mr Neustadt a former lecturer at London Metropolitan University, had defied that ruling and "forced" the children into hiding.

They said Mr Neustadt and the boys had not been since the autumn.

"The father has defied the Russian courts and has forced the children into hiding. The father and the children have not been seen since last autumn," said a spokeswoman for London law firm Dawson Cornwell, which represents Ms Neustadt.

"Neither the Russian court bailiff nor the Moscow police have taken any measures to find the children or to secure the children's return to England, in accordance with the enforcement of the court orders."

She added: "Rachael is enormously concerned for the children's safety and well-being. Rachael is extremely anxious that the children are in danger.

"The children have not attended school since mid-November 2013 and were last seen leaving their former residence accompanied by their paternal grandmother, Irina Mogilewski."

Solicitor Caroline Korah, who works for Dawson Cornwell, said Russian court orders needed to be enforced.

"It is extremely concerning that the children's father is now in breach of the orders of the Russian courts, in addition to his breaches of the English courts," she said.

"The Russian court's decision to return the children to England, their country of habitual residence, needs to be enforced now.

"We hope that the Russian legal system's own enforcement procedures will conclude with the return of the children to England in the most summary and protective way for the children."

Solicitors said the boys had been visiting their father in Russia for Christmas 2012 but he had refused to return them to their mother in London in January 2013.

Ms Neustadt began legal action and a judge sitting in the High Court in London ordered Mr Neustadt to return the boys to England. Solicitors said he had not complied.

Dawson Cornwell said an application had been made to Russian judges following Russia's ratification of an international convention relating to cross-border disputes between parents.

Lawyers said Russia ratified the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children 1996 in June 2013.

They said the case was the first to make use of the convention in England as well as in Russia.

Dawson Cornwell originally released details of the dispute in July 2013 after a Deputy High Court judge - who had analysed the dispute at hearings in London - gave Ms Neustadt permission to publicise the case.

:: Lawyers said Mrs Neustadt has begun an on-line petition and wants people to sign as a show of support for the "rules of law" designed to protect children like Daniel and Jonathan. It can be found at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/738/931/416/england-and-russia-support-the-hague-conventions/#sign

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