History of Israeli Family Courts

In Israel, it is illegal for Jews to marry non Jews. Unless they travel outside and perform a civil ceremony.

Religious courts have dominated family life, from birth to death. Historically, men withheld the Jewish Divorce (Get), leaving women what is known as agunah (which means chained in Hebrew). They are not allowed to remarry, and for the religious sector, this was and still is a great smear and shame on the woman. Many organisations were established to try and rectify the problem.

In 1995 the Family Court was established to balance gender inequality. Civil courts look more favourably on women, whilst historically it was viewed that the Religious Court favoured the man. There used to be a race to court, for if a file was placed in one court, it could not be heard or defended in another. This is still relatively true to this day, although the Religious Judges are viewed as more efficient by many.

The growth of the feminist movements in Israel have swayed the balance even more. Thousands are speaking out about gender inequality. Lawyers are plentiful, with Israel having 45,000 lawyers and No. 3 in the World for litigation.

It is said in Israel that Judge Edna Arbel established the Family Court, which also included an amendment to Directive 2.5 in Family Law. It said women who lied would not be punished or prosecuted if later it was proved to be a mistake. As a result of those two actions, false claims jumped to over 20,000 a year, nearly 100% against men. The practice of this directive meant that men could be removed from their home within minutes of a false claim, and spend most of their lives trying to prove their innocence.

Legislation going back to British Mandate is still included, plus Ottoman Law and some US laws, making it a minefield for defendants.

Whilst the desired result was for the pendulum to swing back to assist women, recent studies show that the withholding of the Divorce for financial gain is 50/50.

In the Family Court, the percentage of false claims is over 78% with 99% of defendants unable to overturn them.

Child Support for Jewish Men in Israel.

It’s clear that Jewish men are suffering from a mixture of laws. Jewish Religious Courts, Civil Courts, and a mish mash of ancient laws from Ottoman, British and even newer USA regulations.

What is historically clear is that a Jewish father is 100% responsible for child support, and also wife maintenance. If not divorced, the man will have to keep his wife in the manner she is ‘accustomed to’. This can extend to her gym, beauty routine and clothes. A wife’s money is not taken into consideration when dealing with child support. Her money is her own, and his salary is the only one taken into account.

Over the past 20 years, with the advent of the family civil court and immunity enjoyed by women for false claims, it has resulted in thousands of men being forced to pay not only 100% of their own salary, but also on occasions to have to find a second income as judges have ordered up to 200%.

As unbelievable as this sounds to the West, this is a reason why many fathers do not get divorced. They are simply too afraid. Men are forced economically to return home to their own parents, or end up homeless. They have no means to support themselves, and also nothing to treat their children with. From the moment of separation, thousands of men are reduced to nothing, losing their homes, jobs, self esteem and often their lives. They are forced to see their children in a Child Contact Centre, as a first resort and expected to prove their parental skills, both by observation and reporting from those visits of one hour every week or two, and enforced parental assessment tests.

The system is set up against fathers. Campaigning for over 20 years has brought the issue to the Israeli Government, with many female and male lawyers – family and criminal law – making representations and establishing committees against false claims and for shared parenting. As yet, the women’s lobby have held their position with no real changes occurring.