Child Custody

It’s heartbreaking for children when their parents get divorced, no matter how old they are. So we encourage our clients to try and separate their own issues with their spouse from what is best for their children. We can connect our clients with the appropriate professionals in divorce coaching and guiding your kids through divorce, upon request.You can read the 5 Commandments for Parents Getting Divorced here.

Child custody in Israel is separate from guardianship. Even if one parent has custody (which is usually the case) both parents have guardianship which means they share legal responsibility and are both entitled to have a say regarding education, health care and other areas of the child’s life. If parents can’t agree, the issues get decided on in court on an ongoing basis.

No matter which court hears your custody case (the fight for being the primary caregiver who resides with the children) the decision is made “in the best interests of the children.” In order to determine exactly what that is, the courts make evaluations with the input of an appointed social worker and/or psychologist to evaluate the situation. This includes visits with the children alone and with each parent, to observe the interactions between them. Their evaluation is submitted to the courts who usually follow the recommendations.

Israel employs the “Tender Age Doctrine” which is a presumption that for children under 6 years old it’s in their best interest to be placed with the mother. However it is possible to appeal this.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding child custody or would like to arrange for a complimentary case evaluation.

In theory, child visitation schedules are not affected by the pandemic. The arrangements should be honored even during lockdowns when kids have to be transported back and forth. You can carry a copy of the judgement to show to the police in case you are stopped.

If the children have to be in isolation then the schedule can be adjusted to give each parent their allotted time in the following weeks, so they don’t miss out. See video explanation here.

 

 

There is a difference between guardianship and custody.
Guardianship is the responsibility for the decision making for the children.
Custody refers to the amount of time the children will be spending with each parent after the divorce.

The ideal is that the kids spend 50% of the time with each parent and they share doctor visits, after school programs, clothes expenses etc.

A new ruling in 2017 said that if both parents make the same amount and they have joint custody no child support payments are made.

The courts are reluctant to award joint custody if the parents don’t agree to it because in order for it to benefit the children the parents have to work together and cooperate. See video explanation here.

 

Joint custody is being awarded more and more. But it does depend on the previous circumstances. If you’re a dad who has been mostly absent from his kids’ lives it’s unlikely that you would be considered for joint custody. If, however, you have spent a large amount of time with your children and taken responsibility for some of their daily care, the chances are that you will be able to continue in your children’s lives the same way after divorce.

There are a couple of challenges fathers face:

1) Will you be able to leave work in time to care for your kids?
2) In Israel we have the ‘tender age doctrine’ which states that children under 6 would be better off with their mother.
3) The joint custody rulings are relatively new and since most of the social workers involved in these cases have been practicing for many years there is a bias against men having joint custody over young children.

It’s possible to overcome these obstacles but it usually involves going to court. See video explanation here.

Generally the courts do not award joint custody unless the parents come with an agreement as part of their divorce. Then it's likely that the  judge will honor their decision.

In the past if there was litigation and the sides didn't agree to joint custody, the courts would not rule in favor of it.

It is beginning to change, however, and we are seeing joint custody awarded more often.

It's very important that you speak with us so we can help you come up with a legal plan for making good decisions for your children's future. 

See video explanation here.

In Israel there is guardianship and custody. As guardians of the children both parents have rights regarding certain decisions: education, healthcare, etc. The observance level should not be changing because of the divorce. The children’s school orientation should stay the same.
If your ex spouse changes something unilaterally without your agreement notify the school and then you have the option to file in court.
The best case scenario is writing these details into the divorce agreement. Stipulating for example, that the non-Shabbat observant parent will observe Shabbat when the kids are there. See video explanation here.

Even though joint custody is being awarded more often, here are a few tips you can use to make sure you get to see your kids after the divorce.

1)Keep to the schedule you’ve agreed on. Otherwise you may not be able to make an argument for having them come to you during your allotted time if there is an event your ex-spouse wants to take them to.
2) Don’t give your ex-spouse a reason to withhold the kids from you. Try to be calm and easygoing even if he/she is in the wrong.
3) And don’t withhold child support either. Settling things as amicably as possible will serve you better in the long run and give you a legal leg to stand on if you wind up having to settle the issue in court.

If you feel you are being alienated from your children, you can go to court to resolve the situation. See video explanation here.

Unfortunately, all too often at Hait Family Law, we see one parent (either still married or divorced) taking the children away from the other parent and out of the country of residence, bringing them to Israel. Or keeping them unlawfully in Israel after a scheduled visit.
Israel is a signatory to what is commonly known as the Hague convention (formally, the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980). This is an international treaty that basically systemizes a procedure for promptly returning children under the age of 16 who have wrongfully been either retained in one country or removed from another. What that means is that if two parents disagree about where their children should be living, and one of them either takes the child or children to a different country or doesn't return them after they have visited him or her in that country, then this convention is the means to have the child returned to their home country. The litigation in these cases is called a "Hague" case in the family law arena.
Because Israel is a member of the Hague Convention it's obligated to adhere to the procedures for returning kidnapped children.
If your children have been taken by their other parent and brought to Israel, it's important that you act right away and contact us. Your ability to bring your kids home depends on quick action.
The first thing we do is bring suit in Israel for the return of your children. The second, is to contact the State Department in your country of residence and file a Hague complaint.
The Hague Convention bars any suit that is brought after 12 months and views a suit brought from three to six months after the children are taken as suspect (unless extenuating circumstances are accepted).
The reasoning is that if a parent waits three months before taking action then it appears as if they agree that the children should be in Israel.
Please contact us immediately if you find yourself in this situation or if you have any questions.
See video explanation here.

Being involved in a Hague case in Israel for the return of kidnapped or unlawfully held children is going to be extremely stressful. That's why it is vital that you retain an attorney who is experience in Hague cases, one who is familiar with the laws in your home country and most importantly is a native English speaker. 

There are a number of reasons for this. 1) You will need someone who deeply understands all the documents from outside of Israel to successfully bring those facts into your representations. 2)  Each document must be  professionally translated into Hebrew and proper supervision is essential to insure no detail is lost. 3) While in court your attorney can make sure you understand all the proceedings and can help direct your answering of the court's questions. 

In addition it is imperative that you hire a professional court translator for your actual testimony and the questions/comments from the judge and other lawyer.

We have represented both, parents from outside of Israel who bring a suit here to get their kids back, as well as parents who have brought their kids to Israel (or didn't return them after a visit) in the best interest of the children. So we have a full understanding of what you will face and can guide you through the process.

Please contact us if you are in this situation or you have any questions.

See video explanation here.

So you've gotten divorced and you have custody of your kids. Things seem to be working out well between you and your ex - visitation schedules are honored, alimony is paid as agreed, and both of you have moved forward towards the next chapter of your life. But then you meet somebody from the U.S. (or France or Canada or Australia) and you want to move there. 

Although the law in Israel allows for a divorced custodial parent to move with the children to another country in certain circumstances, you must never leave without approval from the court!  You must bring an application to the court.

Some of the things that the court will look at are familial ties in Israel and in that other country, economic status in Israel and in that other country, the reason for the requested move, etc. And of course your ex-spouse will have a say as well.

The court ruling (if granted) will change the terms of your divorce agreement or prior divorce judgment. It may change the amount of money that is transferred each month, and it always allows for amended and generally very broad visitation schedules. 

See video explanation here.

We have represented many fathers who want to fight for custody over their minor children and in some of those cases we did win did custody for them. But these battles are not easy. They are exhausting, expensive and heart wrenching. And unless we can demonstrate that the mother is incapable of caring for the children, the court usually won't consider the father's case, especially if the children are under 6 years old.

In Israel, especially for younger children, there is a presumption in both  the Family and Rabbinic courts, that the mother is the better suited custodial parent for minor children.  This is called "The Tender Age Doctrine." This presumption can be overcome (and the fact that I have won custody for some fathers is proof of this) but it is a high hurdle.

When older children are involved their feelings are taken into consideration by the court. And if the mother is proven to be emotionally unstable or there are other extenuating circumstances there is a chance the father will get full custody.

See video explanation here.

In Israel generally parents are not awarded joint custody... which means that one parent becomes the custodial parent and the other parent gets visitation rights.

Parents (usually the father) without custody, have visitation rights. This means they get to have their children alternate weekends, alternate holidays and two times a week either with sleepovers or just for the day or evening.

See video explanation here.

You and your spouse may find yourselves at odds and/or talking about divorce while in Israel with your kids, on either an extended vacation or a year long sabbatical. You want to go back to your country of origin and your spouse won't return with the kids.  

Are you able to bring suit against your spouse to have your children returned to your home country pursuant to the Hague Convention?

Hague cases are based on facts.

For example, where was the last location that both parents agreed on? Where is the children's permanent residence?

Hague cases happen quickly so it's imperative that you speak with a qualified experienced attorney as soon as you become aware there may be a problem.

See video explanation here.