General Questions About Divorce
You’ve reached the point in your marriage where you are considering divorce.
Or your spouse has told you they want a divorce and you don’t know what to do.
Either scenario is daunting as it brings with it many questions and uncertainty about your future.
In either case you need to speak with an attorney who can calmly and patiently hear your personal story and is experienced in both court systems (The Family Court and The Rabbinic Court) so you can be advised about the best way to proceed.
At Hait Family Law we are here to help you understand the laws and procedures that govern divorce in Israel so the process will be a little less overwhelming and help relieve a large part of the stress associated with divorce.
We’ve answered the most commonly asked questions below and there are a number of free E-books available to give you all the information you’ll need to make educated choices throughout your divorce.
If you want to get divorced or your spouse has told you they want a divorce, please contact us so we can answer your questions and arrange a complimentary case evaluation.
If your spouse has asked for a divorce and you agree to it, the best course of action for you and your family (emotionally and financially) is for the two of you to sit down together and come up with a formal written agreement. This will cover all aspects of your divorce: division of assets, and if there are kids, custody and child support. (I am a licensed mediator and can assist you in crafting out this agreement.)
If you don't want a divorce or can't agree on any or some of the issues you have to work out, then you may end up in litigation. In this case the issues will be decided upon in Family Court by one judge or the Rabbinic Court by three judges. Whether you have come to an agreement without going to court or you have had to litigate your divorce in either court, you will still have to appear in front of the Rabbinic court to obtain your GET.
While it is possible to get divorced if your spouse has fled the country, the question is which country will have jurisdiction over the divorce?
If the one who has left is in the other country long enough (generally between 3 and 6 months) they could initiate the divorce from there. But you can begin divorce proceedings from Israel right away because this is where you lived together.
So while I advise you to take action quickly you also must be careful and evaluate which country gives you better rights. In Israel there is no alimony or spousal support like in other countries. So you may benefit from having the proceedings begun outside of Israel.
In any case each case must be evaluated on its own. See video explanation here.
At Hait Family Law we have seen opposing attorneys bring needless motions in court, or file unnecessary suits that have cost their clients exorbitant fees and the very unfortunate fact is, the clients weren't aware that that was happening.
There are four different ways attorney's charge for divorce.
- Some charge by the hour.
- Some have set pricing for each of the areas covered by divorce: for division of assets, for child support, child custody etc.
- Still others charge a global price which includes everything.
- And others have a modified global price for their basic basket of services , charging more for things that fall outside the basket.
At Hait Family Law, we offer modified global pricing to keep your costs as low as possible. We sit down with you when you're deciding if you would like us to represent you, and we outline exactly what your fee will cover. We want to make sure you have no financial or procedural surprises throughout the divorce process, so you know from the outset what to expect and how much it will cost.
This is a question that no attorney can answer definitively without having more information.
Have the sides reached an agreement already? Do they at least have an agreement in principle? Is their spouse a litigious type of person?
If everything is agreed to, then it's possible for you to be divorced in less than a month. If there are details to work out which may require mediation to reach an agreement and you are communicating with each other, then the whole procedure can be over in three or four months.
If the two sides aren't able to reach an agreement then they may have to engage in some initial litigation. In this case there are a few hearings, some initial decisions made by a judge, and then either the parties are more willing to reach some type of agreement or the judge (or Rabbinical court judges) will make some recommendations and push people into some type of agreement.
In a completely litigated divorce - including trials with evidentiary hearings and lots of motions, it can take over a year. But it usually doesn't get to this extreme.
In a Jewish divorce the husband is required to give his wife a GET and a wife is required to accept it in order for there to be an official divorce. Unfortunately there are many cases where the husband refuses to give his wife a GET and she becomes an agunah (or a chained wife). It also happens, albeit less frequently, that a wife refuses to accept the GET and the husband becomes an agun (or chained husband.) This is called a Misarev GET and then the procedure can take years.
There is a suit you could bring in court if your spouse wants to get divorced and you don't. It's called forced reconciliation or a Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) suit.
We have brought a suit for reconciliation on occasion as a tool for the rights it grants in the interim, but it must be entered into with much forethought and consideration.
When bringing this suit you must take into account that if your spouse really wants to get divorced you are only delaying and prolonging the process. And you run the risk of antagonizing your spouse and making them less flexible when you eventually do get divorced.
All assets a couple amass while married are considered jointly owned and split equally at the time of a divorce.
There are exceptions with a big BUT. Certain actions must be taken regarding the inheritance prior to the divorce and sometimes long before.
We always encourage a couple to draw up a pre nup agreement or after they are married enter into a monetary agreement validated by a family court or Bet Din (religious court).
Excluding these circumstances, if the money or property was kept completely separate in one spouse's name only and wasn't used for common expenses like repairs on a jointly owned house or family vacations, then the inheritance does not have to be split.
It's interesting to note that statistically, about 10% of people who get divorced will end up as a couple again in the future. Why would people begin divorce related litigation and then decide to stop prior to the divorce going through?
Sometimes people just want to bring suits so that in case of divorce they get to be the side that determines which issues are heard in the Rabbinic court and which in the Family court. Sometimes, people realize that they would rather be with each other than without. Sometimes people come to the conclusion that divorce just isn't economically feasible (It's very sad when this happens but it happens quite often.) Sometimes the litigation was just a tool to get the other spouse to cave in to certain demands or to come to an agreement over such issues.
It costs so much both emotionally and financially to get divorced. It's worthwhile considering spending some money and emotional energy in counselling before taking those steps.
If you do want to stop the litigation and you both agree, it can happen in two ways.
- The side that brought the suit can delete it and no legal rights will have changed from the way they stood before the suit was brought.
- The couple can make a written agreement concerning all the details they were trying to work out in court and file it officially. That then becomes the final judgment and the suit is suspended.
While you don’t have to tell your husband you’re pregnant if you want a divorce, if you are planning on carrying the child to term, it can affect your legal rights if you don’t. You could be accused of parental alienation and child support and visitation rights could be affected. See video explanation here.
When someone wants a divorce they are usually anxious to get away from their spouse as quickly as possible. However it is important to know that taking unilateral action, like disappearing with the kids, could have an adverse affect on your divorce settlement.
Property rights are not affected by you leaving.
However, child custody and child support payments can be seriously affected. If you keep your spouse from the children it could be considered kidnapping.
So if you do leave, make sure the other spouse is in regular contact with the children.
You will eventually have to negotiate an agreement with your spouse and the more fairly he or she is treated the easier those negotiations will be. And if you wind up in court, a judge will be deciding the legal consequences of your conduct. See video explanation here.
There are four topics that must be addressed by couples getting divorced in Israel.
(Just a note here, There is no alimony or spousal support in Israel)
- Custody. Where the children live after the divorce.
- Child Support. The non-custodial parent (generally the father) will have to make payments for the welfare of the children - food, housing, clothing.
- Division of Assets. Those accumulated during the marriage are divided equally.
- The GET. This is the religious divorce procedure and document (between two Jewish people) that is only handled by the Rabbinic Court even thought the other three can be managed in either the Family court or the Rabbinic court.
You must properly plan for your divorce because choosing one court over the other for the first three items could have serious adverse effects on the outcome.
Please contact us for more information.
In Israel a woman who gets divorced is not entitled to alimony.
In accordance with Jewish law, a woman is entitled to be supported by her husband for as long as the couple is married. That is not to say that the woman is sent away from the marriage empty handed - she is entitled to half of the assets that the couple accrued together plus in certain limited situations, other amounts of money.
According to Jewish law a father is obligated to support his minor children even if he is divorced from their mother so there will be monthly payments ordered for the support of the children. But this is not alimony.
In Israel there is no obligation for your spouse to support you once the two of you are divorced. There is an obligation for a father to continue to support his minor children however and your marital assets get divided.
It is vitally important to analyze the financial impact divorce will have on you and we are here to answer your questions regarding your finances and any other divorce related questions you may have.
While one should definitely change their will after they get divorced and we think it's good practice to change your will before you get divorced.
If you have a valid will, your assets will be divided according to the will (we call this procedure probate in legalese), and whatever your spouse is entitled to pursuant to the will they will receive – even if you were in the middle of a divorce proceeding and don't want them to receive it anymore.
And if you don't have a will when you pass away (even in the midst of divorce proceedings) your spouse will be entitled to his or her legal share of you assets, and the rest will be divided amongst your other heirs. In legalese we call this intestacy.
Even if you have a joint will with your current spouse we can help you change that as our first order of business if you're getting divorced.
And it can always be amended after the divorce.
The important thing is that you get to decide how
your assets will be divided if you pass away during your divorce. See video explanation here.
When divorce is initiated people wonder what the financial situation will be while going through the process. Legally, things should continue the way they were before divorce began. But if one side wants to change the status quo it will have to be negotiated between the couple. Alternatively one of them can take the other to court. See video explanation here.
When divorce takes place in Israel and a woman doesn’t have assets in her name, she needn’t be too worried.
1) Each spouse gets half of the assets.
2) Each is responsible for half the debts that they have accumulated while married.
3) If there is debt that one spouse is unaware of then the ‘innocent spouse rule’ may be applied.
4) A pre-nup will dictate the settlement.
Inheritances have to be examined to see how they were handled to determine if they are also subject to an even split.
It’s important to understand these details as you plan your financial future after divorce. See video explanation here.
Since 1977 it's been illegal to have more than one spouse in Israel.
That means you cannot get married here if you've left a spouse behind in another country when you moved to Israel. You must prove that you are divorced first.
People have slipped under the radar and married here without disclosing another spouse but the ramifications are quite serious and it usually catches up with them in the end.
If you are legally married in another country and would like to marry someone here, contact us and we can guide you through the legal way to move forward with your life.
When divorce involves spouses who have citizenship in both Israel and abroad, or when one of them resides abroad, there are several factors used to determine where the divorce suit will be heard.
Generally speaking, the country where the suit was brought originally, will have jurisdiction. That could change, however, depending on several factors. How long has each spouse lived where they are living currently? Has the suit been filed entirely in the Rabbinic court or was part of it (asset division, for example) filed in the family court?
It is vital that you contact an attorney well versed in multiple-country divorce, in order to avoid certain pitfalls that could negatively affect your case.
When you're going through divorce, you want to know what will be split between you and your spouse. In general all the assets you've accumulated during the course of your marriage will be divided. If you have a prenuptial agreement the courts will go according to that. If you received an inheritance during your marriage but kept it totally separate from your collective assets then it's likely you'll be able to keep that asset from being divided. If you own premarital assets and they've been completely separate, you may be able to keep those as well.
During 2020 zoom has become an accepted means of conducting many aspects of family law.
Lawyers from both sides have agreed to meet over zoom.
Social workers conduct the required mediation sessions when divorce proceedings have begun.
Court dates can be done over zoom if the judge agrees, although there is a significant financial fee.
Signatures have been witnessed over zoom during lockdown.
Each case is different but it seems that zoom has become an accepted way of conducting legal business. See video explanation here.
In Israel you can only marry in accordance with your religious status.
-a Jewish couple in the Rabbinate
-a Christian couple according to the rules of their church
-a Muslim couple under their religious dictate
Those who cannot marry in Israel.
-same sex couples
-people of different religions
-a Cohen and a divorced woman
Even though there are no civil marriages performed in Israel, the ministry of the interior recognizes marriage licenses from other countries.
So couples with a foreign marriage license must go through the family court if they choose to get divorced.
Couples who choose to formally live together, sharing assets, expenses, bank accounts etc, are considered as officially cohabiting or ‘known in public’. Even though they have the same rights as married couples it’s advisable for them to draw up a legal agreement so if they separate or one of them dies, the decisions for the future won’t be left up to a judge. See video explanation here.
A husband cannot stop his wife from keeping her married name after they get divorced. A name is generally not considered an asset that she will no longer have a right to. It could be written into the divorce agreement if she is willing.
A father can, however, make sure his child retains his name. See video explanation here.
We’re all familiar with agunot or chained wives. These are women whose husbands refuse to give them a GET (Jewish divorce). And because of this they are not free to go on with their lives and marry again or have children.
But there are also agunim - men whose wives refuse to accept a GET. The ramifications for men are a lot less strict and damaging. If the wife is in Israel the rabbinic court can force her to accept the GET or ask for sanctions against her.
Men can just ignore the refusal and accept that they won’t be able to marry again. Or if they are Ashkenazi they can get a heter maiya rabbanim. This is a process whereby100 rabbis sign a document that lets the man remarry even without the GET being accepted. It could take between a year or two. If they are Sephardic, they can also get a heter or permission to take a second wife (according to Sephardic customs). This is a relatively quick process. See video explanation here.