In October 2022 I had the exceptional possibility to listen to a Ukranian family lawyer talk about the important work family lawyers are doing in Ukraine at the moment. The Ukranian legislative authority has made rapid changes in their family law to better accommodate the current situation. For example, it is possible to marry even though both parties cannot attend the wedding ceremony in person. It was interesting to learn that the amount of marriages in Ukraine has grown immensely during this time of war. Changes have also been made to simplify and speed up adoption and relocation of children. It was indeed an emotional experience to listen to the Ukranian lawyer, and the audience of family lawyers from all over the world, showed their appreciation and support by giving her standing ovations.
Recently Familja was faced with the situation of a Ukrainian citizen wanting to marry a Russian citizen in Finland. Under normal circumstances there would not have been any problems to move forward with the process, but being that the situation in the world is unusual at this time, some unexpected problems may and did occur.
It is not possible to get married without an examination of the impediments to marry. The examination ensures that no impediments referred to in the Finnish Marriage Act, such as minor age, a valid marriage or a registered partnership, or a family connection that is too close, exist for the marriage.
Unfortunately, not all embassies issue such certificates abroad at this time. This might cause great problems for people that do not have the possibility to go back to their country of origin to request the certificate. Further, there could be some language issues. The original certificates are usually in a foreign language and will need to be legalized with an apostille certificate. In addition, the certificate must have an official translation, which also needs a second apostille certificate. However, if the translation is done by an authorized translator in Finland, no further legalization is needed for the translation.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Finland has taken the approach of issuing these certificates in English. Once issued by the embassy, it is valid as such. This facilitates the situation for Ukrainians that have fled the war and are living in Finland.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that they lived happily ever after. The Russian citizen was not able to obtain such a certificate from the Russian Embassy. He had fled his country for a completely different reason....