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Divorce case, or Almost detective investigation

For the resident of Slovyansk ending the marriage with her husband, who remained in the so-called DPR and to apply for the child care benefit proved to be difficult. And not through judicial procedures, but because of the whim of the Chairman of the quarterly Committee. The lawyer of the Slovyansk office of the Legal Development Network revealed outstanding professional and detective abilities to help the woman assert her rights. 

At the end of June 2016 Marina* addressed the office of Agency for Democratic Development of Donbass with a request to help her make allowance for children aged 3 and 10 years old. Marina told that she was a refugee, had lived in the city of Gorlivka, which is now on the uncontrolled territory of Ukraine. Her husband remained there. She wants to divorce him but doesn't know how to do it. Also she added that the man cannot come to her due to the fact that he had lost the passport.

The lawyer Olena Soloshenko explained that according to the woman’s application the decision to divorce will be accepted in absentia, and then the allowance for children can be issued. But there appeared an unexpected "all-powerful" character.

"Quarterly Lady" and her own rules

The case was stalled at the stage when the Chairwoman of the Quarterly Committee denied Marina’s request to issue a family status certificate. According to Marina, she explained her refusal by the fact that in accordance with the orders of the city council and the Department of social protection to apply for the family status certificate the woman needs the testimony of the neighbors from the house where Marina lives with children. The lady did not explain why neighbors from the other entrances or from the nearest houses were not suitable as witnesses.

After hearing the story and learning that the "Quarterly Lady" refused to help several women of different ages and with different family members, on July 1 the lawyer Olena Soloshenko went to talk with the Chairwoman of the Quarterly Committee. She appeared a severe and intractable woman and refused to provide a written refusal. However, the lawyer was not going to give up. First she turned on the video camera on the phone and started to record the dialogue. The Chairwoman called a policeman who did not wear a uniform but had a plastic glass of with beer in his hand.

“On my request to provide a protocol of the refusal to issue the certificate the officer said that she ("Quarterly Lady") doesn't owe me anything. I made the remark to the local policeman that his view was not consistent with the appearance of a police officer and called the police squad via 102. "They left within 5 minutes. The call had to be cancelled...”, told Olena Soloshenko.

Appeal, commission, complaints... and neighbors once again!

Further, the lawyer made a written request to the local Department of labour and social protection, as well as to departments of social policy and complaints of citizens. She described the situation and asked to deal with the problem.

The answer came within a week. Officials reported that they had investigated the situation, and declared the actions of the Chairwoman of the Quarterly Committee as illegal. To verify Marina’s actual address the Commission including the head of the neighborhood, the Quarterly Lady and her secretary was gathered.

However, they again began to insist on the presence of neighbors for testimonies. Having been refused, the Commission members signed the document, but noted that they confirmed the actual place of residence without the presence of neighbors.

And again the lawyer had to write a complaint to those departments. In the end her office received the explanation that the actions of the Commission were wrongful, and that chairmen of quarterly committees were trained in the concept of their work and explained the need to issue certificates within the terms specified by the certain Law of Ukraine.

Marina received the allowance, given the circumstances that she had missed the date of issuance in connection with the misconduct of the Chairwoman of the quarterly committee.

P.S. Offices of the Legal Development Network are created and work in the framework of the "Legal aid to the poor and vulnerable groups” Initiative with the financial support of “Human Rights and Justice” Program Initiative of International Renaissance Foundation. Read more about activity of Community Law Center network, basics and principles of work on Legal Space.

The opinion of the International Renaissance Foundation cannot coincide with the point of view of authors of publication.

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