Family Law of Philipp Ryabchenko

11 May 2022

Divorce proceedings are always sensitive cases requiring a deep personal involvement of the lawyer. Divorces of public persons and famous performers are double more difficult because they are accompanied by a proactive attention of the press. Philipp Ryabchenko, a managing partner of BIEL, a law firm, representing the interests of Forbes-listed businessmen and show business stars, such as Pelageya and Polina Gagarina, tells us what helps him uphold the principles of ethics in the family law.

You have been practicing the family law for more than twenty years and are considered to be one of the best experts in Russia*. Nevertheless, you had an artistic career in mind as well. What creative skills help you in your activity?

There was a point in my biography when I was choosing between the career of a musician and a lawyer. But music remained a hobby and law has become my mission. My music fandom developed my ability to improvise as this skill is based on the ability to make decisions quickly in non-standard situations. The same musical composition can sound differently depending on the performer, which is equally true for a trial where the presentation of the same story of a married couple is perceived differently by the court depending on the focuses made by the lawyer.

HNWI divorce proceedings that form a major part of your cases rarely remain confidential. What do you recommend to your clients when the dispute is in the spotlight?

If my client is a media personality, I always work in cooperation with his or her PR unit. Each step, whether filing a claim or a court session, a client’s or my interview, is agreed upon with it. If any details of a family conflict can be disclosed, I always inform the client that a bright public effect may exacerbate the situation and deprive the parties of the possibility to settle the dispute amicably. As far as I personally am concerned, I give comments only as agreed upon with the client and mainly as a refutation of incorrect information publicized by opponents.

The family law is always working with sensitive issues relating to the reputation of the family and the peace of the children. What methods are basic for you as a lawyer when you protect the interests of those who are weaker?

The main goal in family disputes is to separate financial issues and issues of upbringing the children. Unfortunately, divorcing parents often use their children as a tool for the achievement of their goals. In my practice, amicable settlement of the children issue made the parents closer and helped handle the financial issue faster. This is what I always stand for because manipulating the children to obtain a financial result contradicts my personal and professional ethics.

You have been frequently mentioned in the mass media recently in connection with divorces of show business stars. Does the additional PR prevent or help achieving the result for the client?

A positive point of covering my activity in the press for me is that people see that justice does exist and no-win situations can be resolved, and this encourages many people. As far as publications about the private life of my clients are concerned, the mass media often seek sensations and scandals that exist in the media field for several days. In this case, it is important to concentrate on working with the lawyer for the sake of achieving the result and to focus on your goals as much as possible.

How does the status of clients influence the work of the lawyer? Do such clients have some special requirements?

The most critical thing for high-status clients is confidentiality – it is important to let them see and check that the lawyer has run similar cases of people with no less income and status without any disclosure of information. Having a big fortune or business can sometimes make the client feel that law is also the sphere where he or she can make decisions on his or her own. But such cases are quite rare and I can always explain that the behavior scenario suggested by me is based on an extensive experience, dozens of years of legal practice and a number of won trials. The key point here is to trust the professional.

Without what do you think an amicable outcome in a divorce proceeding is impossible?

First of all, both parties should be interested in resolving the conflict. I saw some situations where one of the spouses cannot emotionally let the other one go. And the goal becomes not to resolve financial or children issues but to create pretexts for contacts; in this case the litigation path should be followed. But passion settles down sooner or later, and the parties return to negotiations. I am sure that a marriage agreement can remove many potential problems and differences in the future. It should not be treated as a betrayal of love; this is a civilized approach in case of a crisis.

* Since 2017, Philipp Ryabchenko has inevitably been recognized as one of the best lawyers in the family and inheritance law, according to the rating published by Kommersant.

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