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Jul 2009 Newsletter
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The RWD Newsletter
July 2009

In this edition:


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Cultural Exchange (Part 5)

Premarital Agreements

How to Write a Love Letter

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Cultural Exchange

Part 5
First visit to America

When we have a girlfriend, fiancée, friend or a relative coming to the United States for the first time, each of us thinks of what to do or what to show to impress the visitor. How do we arrive at what that might be? Is it based on personal interests, perhaps from conversations with that person or just what others show tourists? Is it culture, or action, or physical characteristic or…? What is it about your home, your state whether it is East Coast, Midwest or West Coast that you believe will capture the attention of a Russian woman?

I was very happy to have my mother recently fly to America for the fist time. Since she is already widely traveled in foreign land, I knew it would be a challenge to surprise her, but I still tried. I showed her the beauty of Minnesota lakes and nature; the buzzing life of Minneapolis skyways; Guthrie Theatre with its majestic “Endless Bridge” overlooking Mississippi river; stately St. Paul Capitol… I thought to show her all of the things that a first time visitor to the Twin Cities might want to say they have seen.

Oddly, it was not any of these experiences that made as large an impression as the simple act of driving back home through neighborhood streets. We saw big, colorful signs that immediately caught my mother’s attention with their variety and they produced new terms for her: yard sale and garage sale. A few minutes later we came upon another, where the entire family, big and small, was out in the garage with hanging clothing on racks, displaying baby toys, some furniture items, etc. We were compelled to stop and go look - there was no way my mom could pass on the opportunity to explore what they had for sale, to find great deals and to communicate with the very friendly owners. She happily listened to the stories of how each thing was acquired, why it was so dear to the owner and the reasons they had to sell it. She then shared her experiences in post soviet era Russia where they would become excited about second hand clothing brought there from “across the border”, all with different styles and fashions, and about Soviet and later Russian commission stores. Not willing to throw good things away and with a prospect of getting some value back, mom and dad would always take their used items there. The similarities ended here, however, as they would never see the buyer, share the special story of the thing and give them a discount just because they wanted it to go to “good hands”. In what seemed like an instant, nearly an hour had passed and we good-bye.

The first question I heard from mom the very next morning was not about Mall of America or the renowned Sculpture Garden, but about going to another garage sale. Whether a Russian or an American, we all love finding deals and meeting interesting new people. Where many will look for the dazzling lights of a fancy marquee or the prestigious neighborhood to drive past, we discovered that, of all things, garage sales are all about that and being an integral part of an American culture that allow people, regardless of circumstance, to connect on a personal level. My mother’s experience proved to me that these neighborhood sales truly are something to see and experience.

Tamara von Schmidt-Pauli at RussianWomenDiscussion.comTamara von Schmidt-Pauli is a native of St. Petersburg Russia who has been visiting, and living in, the United States and Canada since 2002. She holds bachelors and masters degrees, with honors, covering teaching of language and translation and currently resides in the greater Minneapolis area. Tamara is affiliated with Prime Language Services (

Premarital Agreements

Plan for a happy marriage, but be ready to protect your assets (or value of Premarital Agreements).

As a bilingual Immigration Attorney (Russian and English), I have assisted numerous couples with their Fiancée Visas, Spousal or Immigrant Visas and Green Cards. In other cases, I have provided confidential certified legal translations of important legal documents, including Premarital Agreements (or prenuptial agreements).

In my practice, I have observed at least several instances of FSU women brought to the United States on Fiancée visas with plans to marry in the USA, who had an advance notice of a Premarital Agreement, and who later tried to back off and refused to sign the agreement, or insisted on making significant changes to the agreement shortly before marriage in the USA.

This is a brief outline on how to protect your interests and assets when preparing to marry a foreign woman or man, specifically from Russia or other FSU countries. Before you propose marriage to your Russian or FSU sweetheart, make sure that you sit down and have an open and honest discussion of all important and relevant issues. You may want to discuss: your life in America; your life style; what you can afford and what you cannot afford (some Russian women may have unrealistic expectations); show her some realistic photos, including photos of your house, residence, neighborhood, family; what you do for living; how often and where do you go for vacations; who are your friends; your hobbies; your parents and siblings (how often do you meet, how close you are to your family); all ex-wives issues and all children; child support you pay and child custody/visitations schedules (you might be surprised to find out that your Russian sweetheart is absolutely against having your kids from the previous marriage in your house, even if a few days a week); whether you want or don’t want to have children in the future; how soon after marriage would you like to start a family and have a baby; what she wants to do in USA (her career plans, education, going to college, or being a housewife, etc); what about her mother and father; how strong is your fiancée’s attachment to her mother; whether she would insist on bringing her parent to live with you in your household in 3 years (or as soon as she becomes a USA citizen and can petition for them to join her in America).

If you are a reasonably wealthy man or have some assets that you don’t want to lose in case of divorce and property division (pension, savings, investments, 401K, a house, etc), one of the main issues you should discuss with your fiancée when you are engaged is a PREMARITAL AGREEMENT!

Don’t believe it when a woman says that “we don’t have premarital agreements in Russia”. Yes, they do nowadays (celebrities, wealthy couples), even though it’s still not very common. She may say that she personally does not believe in premarital agreement and that “it kills the real love”. It’s of utmost importance to be ready to protect your assets in a marriage with a foreign national, especially because of cultural and language differences, and because often you have so little time to get to know each other and /or to cohabit before the marriage.

The best Premarital Agreement takes into consideration BOTH parties’ interests, not merely US citizen fiancé/spouse’s, but at the same time it protects integrity of a US citizen’s assets in case of divorce. If you see that your foreign fiancée who does not bring any assets into the marriage, but nevertheless, becomes difficult and will likely refuse to sign a reasonable Premarital Agreement, and you have significant assets that you want to protect, you may be better off to move on and look for a wife somewhere else. This is especially true if you are from one of the Western “Community Property” States, which are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin. In these States, it’s not uncommon to have marital or even pre-marital property divided into half in case of divorce, even if the marriage was of a short duration.

Make sure that your Premarital Agreement is:
  1. prepared by a qualified Attorney in your State (jurisdiction) in United States, and not by a Russian lawyer in Russia or FSU;
  2. you pay for legal advice, not merely look up information on Internet or bug lawyers for free telephone consultation (they deserve to be paid for their time and expertise);
  3. have your Premarital Agreement TRANSLATED to Russian (or native language of your fiancée) by a qualified translator or lawyer in the USA (NOT in Russia), a translator could be a licensed bilingual lawyer (this way you can assure an ACCURATE TRANSLATION of ALL LEGAL TERMS which will stand in court if needed later);
  4. send or give your fiancée a DRAFT of the Premarital Agreement BEFORE she comes to USA on K-1 Fiancée visa, so she has time to review it and provide her objections or suggestions, and document the fact that you gave her the draft on a certain date;
  5. hire her a SEPARATE lawyer here in USA who can explain the terms of the agreement to her BEFORE she signs it (usually, it will cost you only a few hours of a lawyer’s time, but it helps to bulletproof the agreement for court in case of any future problems; before you hire her a lawyer, ask your lawyer to suggest you someone he or she knows, as it helps if both lawyers can comfortably work together in a non-adversarial manner);
  6. don’t sign the Premarital Agreement in Russia or other FSU countries (do it in your lawyer’s office in your State in the United States, having your attorneys present in person, an interpreter can be present via teleconference);
  7. never sign the Premarital Agreement in counties where it’s not recognized by law (even though it might seem convenient if you are having your marriage abroad at some exotic island in Caribbean or Indian ocean);
  8. and, of course, don’t forget to sign the Premarital Agreement BEFORE the marriage takes place.
As a US-trained and licensed bilingual attorney (Russian-English), I have assisted numerous couples in the USA in having their Premarital Agreements translated to Russian (certified notarized translation). As an interpreter, I assisted through teleconferencing in negotiation and signing of the Premarital Agreement between Fiancé/Husband/his lawyer and Foreign Fiancée/Wife/her lawyer in several different States. During signing of the Premarital Agreement, an interpreter can be either physically present in the office or present via teleconference to your lawyer’s office. Most of the couples I worked with as an Immigration Lawyer or as a Translator have happy and successful marriages, but occasionally all extra legal precautions could be a lifesaver.

Luba Smal is an US-licensed attorney and immigration lawyer. She is also admitted to practice law in Belarus (FSU) since 1994. Luba Smal is an attorney in private practice and a General Notary in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Her law practice is not limited to one State only. Because immigration law is federal law, she is admitted to practice federal immigration law in all 50 States. She speaks fluent Russian and English. (In some States words “this is an advertisement” are required to accompany this article). Website: ; Email:

How to Write a Love Letter

Most of the people get really confused when trying to express their feelings to someone they love. Just being in the same room with the object of your affections can make you feel ill at ease. Sitting down and writing a letter in private, however, gives you time to get in touch with your deepest feelings and then decide which words will best express them. You may reach a clarity of thought by the time you finish the letter that you didn't have when you started and which you probably wouldn't have reached trying to express yourself in person. Here are some simple tips to help you get those romantic feelings down on paper.

1. Presentation
Your love letter is a personal message to someone special, so your method of writing should also be special. Forget about the computer. For this endeavor, you'll need to hark back to the old days of pen and paper. It’s ok even if you don’t have a copybook hand! Get some nice (and romantic!) stationery, a flair pen with black or brown ink and a matching envelope. You can also include a special extra: petals from a flower, sprinkles of stars, paper hearts or a teabag of your favorite tea. That little extra effort means you really put some thought and heart into this.

2. Romantic salutation
"Dear [Jane/John]" is too common to start a heartfelt love letter. Choose something more loving, such as "My dearest Jane" or "My darling Jane." You can also start with a loving salutation that doesn't include your significant other's name, such as "To My True Love" or "To My One and Only." If you have a pet nickname, that's a good option, too, as it sets an intimate mood for the rest of your letter.

3. Preamble
You may want to start out by saying, "I've been thinking of you nonstop since..." or "I thought of you today when... " or "I have been wanting to tell you this for a long time..."

4. Declaration of Love
Tell your significant other why you love him or her. There are many ways to do this: you might want to recall the first time you knew you were in love with this person, explain how your life has changed for the better, describe how much you miss your love when you're apart, explain that you can't imagine life without him/her, mention times you've picked him/her out of a crowd. You can also explain how you feel when you're together, and include your hopes or plans for your future together.

5. Famous quotation
Love is such an overwhelming emotion, it's hard to explain all the wonderful things about it in a simple letter. So borrow some words from a professional wordsmith. A romantic quote can sum up a plethora of feelings in just a few phrases.

7. Romantic closing
"Sincerely yours" or "Best wishes" are fine valedictions for an everyday letter to a friend, but a love letter needs something more heartfelt. Try closing with a phrase such as "All my love," "Yours forever" or "Your Loving [Girlfriend, Boyfriend, Husband, Wife, etc]" and then sign your name.

8. Present the Letter
Find a romantic way to present your letter. Lay it on the pillow with a long-stemmed rose, send it with flowers or a gift basket or go out for a romantic walk/ intimate dinner.

This article is provided by Russian Flora:

Russian Flora specializes in high-quality, reliable gift and flower delivery to Russia , CIS and Eastern Europe. The company works directly with established, local Russian florists to offer deliveries within 24-48 hours of submitted orders. After the founder and owner David Skol experienced firsthand that many of the existing delivery services to Russia provided either low-quality or over-priced flowers and gifts, he decided to provide a U.S.-based service that would provide the type of service he believed was lacking. Learn more at

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