The Court System
There are two official courts in Israel; the secular Family Court and the religious Rabbinic Court. They both handle all aspects of a divorce (asset division, child custody and child support) with the exception of the Jewish divorce document. This is called a GET and the official issuing of that document as well as the ceremony accompanying it, takes place exclusively in the Rabbinic court.
The court that hears the divorce case will determine which law is applied – Jewish law or secular law- and can therefore affect the outcome of the case. Even though in theory the Family court is supposed to rule within the confines of Jewish law (when both spouses are Jewish), in practice the Family court’s interpretation and application of Jewish law can differ greatly from that of the Rabbinic court. Who ever files for divorce first determines which court will decide the issues.
At Hait Family Law we have a deep knowledge of how each court operates and we help our clients choose the appropriate court for their particular case.
Please contact us with any questions you have or to make an appointment for a complimentary case evaluation where we can help you determine which court is best for your situation.
With two court Systems operating in Israel, the secular Family Court and the religious Rabbinic Court, it is often advantageous to choose one over the other to file in, depending on the details of your particular case. The spouse who files first gets to choose the court that is most advantageous for them. Hence the race.
You must choose carefully when deciding which court to file in because if pick the wrong court, it could seriously affect the outcome of your divorce.
At Hait Family Law we've got you covered. We have a deep understanding of how both courts work and we can help you choose the best one for you.
Sometimes people file for their divorce (GET) in the Rabbinic court without including the ancillary issues - child support, child custody and asset division - either because they filed without an attorney or with an attorney that didn't realize it has to be stated to be included.
If your spouse has filed for divorce in the Rabbinic court and you want to move the case, first we will help you determine if that's in your best interests and if it is and your spouse has only filed for a GET we will be able to move the ancillary issues into the Family Court.
We are always able to move the child support issue from the Rabbinic Court to the Family Court because it's the right of the child to be supported and the Rabbinic court deals with the rights of the parents.
Although Israel is a modern, Western country in many ways -- including with regards to it's legal system for the most part - legal issues regarding personal status (marriage, divorce, burial) are done only in accordance with religious law. This means that Jews get married and divorced in Rabbinic courts, Muslims get married and divorced in Sharia courts, and Christians get married and divorced in one of the many Christian denomination courts. While this may not cause any significant LEGAL problems in the majority of cases, there is a significant minority of the population that cannot get divorced in the religious courts of any religion because the spouses are of different religions, or the religion they practice does not have a commensurate court in Israel.(i.e. Hindu, Buddhist, etc.), These people appear before the Family court which has the power to annul their marriages. It's a longer process than a divorce between couples of the same religion.
After a lawsuit has begun and before the trail starts, there is a pretrial conference (called a Kadem Mishpat in Hebrew). This happens in every trial in Israel. It is a hearing that helps the judge ascertain what issues will be presented to him and to set a timeline for the trial. Litigation can be intimidating but the better you understand the process, the better you and your attorney can work together towards the settling of your case.
A stop order (preventing a father from leaving Israel) is issued by the courts for two reasons. 1) They want to make sure the father pays child support. 2) They want to make sure he gives his wife a GET (Jewish Divorce). If a lawyer has advised you to leave to avoid a stop order, please stop and call us first. You my be making a huge mistake.
The United States and Israel have a memorandum of understanding which enables one country to go after the citizen of the other country if they leave to avoid the stop order. This means the authorities of The United States will come find you and go after you. You'll wind up having to resolve the issue in both countries instead of just one.
I believe this question comes from people's' awareness of public opinion. Each side is trying to get friends and family to take their side. So wanting to present their case in front of a jury feels like the natural consequence of that awareness. But in Israel there are no juries in divorce litigation. In the Family Court one judge hears your case and in the Rabbinic Court, three judges hear your case. There are no spectators allowed in either court besides the divorcing couple and their lawyers.
There is difference between a judge's decision and a final judgement and there are different rules regarding how each of these is appealed. Think of the judge's decision as an order that resolves a particular dispute between the parties, but not the whole case and the judgement as a final ruling that ends the whole case. The basic rule is that at the first level of judicial hearings in the Family court, while there is a right to submit a request to appeal the judge's decision, (within 30 days) it doesn't necessarily mean that the higher court (i.e. the district court) will hear the appeal – just that they will look at the request and decide whether or not to hear it. If the request for an appeal is denied, you are bound by that decision.
Unlike in the case of the possibility of being refused an appeal for a judge's decision, when it comes to the case of a final judgement, you always have the right to an appeal. This appeal has to be made within 45 days. And the side that appeals has to put up a guarantee to cover the attorney's costs of the other side in case they are judged to pay them.
You always have the right to appeal. One of three things could happen.
1)The court could reject it(for an appeal it's three judges instead of one).
2) They could require the other side to submit written answers.
3) They could schedule oral hearings.
The judges don't hear the evidence again, only the legal arguments based on that evidence.
If you lose a judgement in Family Court and are considering appeal, please contact us at Hait Family Law. We are well versed in the appeals procedure and we can guide you.to guide you.
Being served with a court order to remain in Israel is one of the legal tools often used during divorce proceedings. You need to be aware of a few things if this happens to you.
- Determine why the order was issued and which court it came from.
- Submit an answer or motion of your own to have it dismissed or to allow you to leave Israel under certain conditions.
- You will need to put up a 'surety' or guarantee that you will return to Israel if you are allowed to leave. This may be a lean on an asset, or a promise from someone who signs for your credibility that they will pay a designated amount of money to your spouse if you fail to return.
The better you understand the legal tools that may be used against you, the more informed your decisions for your future will be.
The judges in Israeli courts want people to get divorced through reaching an agreement and one of the ways to encourage that is through mediation.
If the court orders mediation, the couple will be required to attend one meeting. If you and your spouse decide you would like to continue and come to an agreement outside of litigation you may continue with mediation but at your own expense.
If you decide not to continue you go back to court and continue with litigation.
Anything that occurs in mediation is secret and neither you nor your spouse can bring those details up in front of the judge.
The mediator however, may tell the judge if you were unwilling to go to mediation which may reflect negatively on you. So we always recommend that you go once, whether you want to or not.