Divorce Mediation Lawyer Helping Clients Navigate the Legal System
Divorces can occur for a variety of reasons, but once the process has begun, there are fundamental issues that must be resolved before the dissolution of the marriage is considered complete. You can allow the civil or religious court to fully determine the terms of your divorce, but this can be a lengthy and expensive process, and there is no guarantee that you will be satisfied with the court’s decisions.
The skilled services of a divorce mediation lawyer can help you remove some of the uncertainty from the process. By negotiating part or all of your divorce agreement outside of court, you keep more control over the end result and may be able to avoid some of the hard feelings that can occur in a drawn-out legal battle. To speak with a knowledgeable divorce mediation attorney today, contact Hait Family Law at (077) 200 8161 for a complimentary case evaluation.
How Does the Israeli Court System Handle Divorces?
Divorce in Israel is different than in any other country in the world due to the unique structure of the court system, which has both civil and religious courts. Certain aspects of a divorce, including custody, child support, and the division of assets, can be handled by either the Family Court or the religious courts. However, your personal law determines which religious court has jurisdiction over the official dissolution of your marriage. For example, a Jewish couple must file for divorce within the Rabbinical Court. If you do not have a religious affiliation or your religion is not recognized by the state, you may seek a divorce in civil court.
One of the factors that can make an Israeli divorce so complex and stressful is the so-called “race for jurisdiction.” Because the civil and religious courts operate under different laws, it may be more or less beneficial to one party to have parts of the divorce decided by a particular court. Whichever court receives the case first will have jurisdiction over the decisions. Because this is a time-sensitive matter, it is wise to understand the pros and cons of each court system before you begin your divorce proceedings so you know where you want your case to be heard.
What Are the Primary Considerations in a Divorce?
During a divorce, you will have to separate every part of the life you and your partner shared during your marriage. It can feel overwhelming when you think about all the issues you will need to address, but the entirety of a divorce for a Jewish couple can be broken down into four general subjects.
Division of Assets
Under Israeli law, when a husband and wife divorce, the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage will be equally divided between them. Assets owned prior to the marriage and a few specific types of assets, such as pension funds, are not subject to division following a divorce. If you signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the division of assets will be guided by that document. However, if you do not have one of these agreements, enlisting the help of a skilled divorce mediation lawyer to negotiate how your assets will be split can often be preferable to allowing the court to decide the matter for you.
Any divorce involving a child presents emotional and legal challenges for the parents. Historically, Jewish mothers have been more likely to be awarded custodial time by the courts, especially in cases where the child is under six years old. Joint custody is gradually becoming more common, but fathers may still face an uphill battle in court when attempting to get more time with their children. However, if you and your ex can negotiate a mutually agreeable custody plan as part of your divorce agreement, it will usually be honored by the court unless they believe that it does not serve the best interests of the child.
Under Jewish law, a father is financially responsible for the welfare of his children, even if their mother remarries. This means that many fathers find themselves paying a large portion of their income in child support until their child reaches maturity. The court calculates support on a case-by-case basis by considering the child’s basic needs, their current standard of living, both parents’ incomes, and other pertinent information.
Unfortunately, because there is no set formula for determining child support, the amount awarded can vary widely, even for individuals in similar situations. Getting your support payments adjusted later can also involve many legal hurdles. Creating a divorce agreement through mediation can give you more control over the details of your child support payments and ensure that you are not at the mercy of the court.
A GET is a document that must be obtained to officially end a Jewish marriage. Once your spouse gives you a GET, you must present it to the Rabbinical Court at a ceremony to finalize your divorce. Without completing this process with the GET, you will still be considered married, even if you have completed the other aspects of the divorce in either court system.
What Are the Advantages of Negotiating a Divorce Agreement?
Divorce proceedings are often painful, and the heightened emotions involved can lead to bitter feelings and long-lasting disagreements. Moving your divorce through the court system can be lengthy, expensive, and exhausting. While some couples may be able to make a clean break and never see one another again after the marriage has ended, those who have children or business interests together will need to find ways to communicate and coexist. Skilled divorce mediators can help you navigate all aspects of your divorce in the most amicable way possible, so you can move forward with your lives and effectively co-parent your children in the future.
Another advantage of mediated divorce agreement is that it allows you to create a plan that fits your unique situation because it isn’t as strictly bound by the rules the courts must follow. For example, Israeli courts do not award spousal maintenance (alimony), but you may be able to negotiate it as part of your divorce agreement. An agreement also helps ensure that you retain possession of properties or assets that hold sentimental importance to you. However, it is crucial to obtain the services of an experienced divorce mediation lawyer to make certain that you are being treated fairly in the divorce and that your agreement will stand up to the scrutiny of the applicable court. Without the court’s approval, your agreement is not legally valid.
Are You Required to Attend Court-Ordered Mediation?
Even if the family or religious court is handling your divorce, there is a possibility that the judge may order you to attend a family mediation to work out some aspects of your split. Your immediate reaction may be to refuse to participate in any situation that places you in contact with your former spouse, particularly if the relationship was abusive or the end of the marriage was emotionally painful. While you cannot be forced to participate in mediation, there are several reasons why it is usually in your best interests to attend at least one session.
Participating in at least one court-ordered mediation shows that you have made a good-faith effort to work towards an agreement. Whether this effort is successful or not, the court tends to look positively at those who make an attempt. Conversely, a refusal to attend mediation could cast a negative light on your case. If you have concerns about meeting your former spouse face-to-face, be sure to discuss them with your lawyer. They are committed to protecting your best interests in all situations. Your lawyer will attend the mediation with you and can provide a buffer between you and the opposing side if you are uncomfortable.
What Factors Can Make Divorces More Challenging for Anglo-Jewish Couples?
Olim who have made aliyah may face special challenges when going through the divorce process. Israeli law is quite different from Western law, which can lead to confusion for individuals unfamiliar with the court system and put them at a distinct legal disadvantage. Another factor adding to the complexity for English speakers is that some parts of the legal process may be conducted in Hebrew.
The prospect of a divorce can be particularly daunting for Anglo-Jewish women who have traveled to Israel to marry their husbands. They may be far from any support system, and the pressures from their husband’s family can be extreme. If you are facing a divorce or have questions about the process, you don’t have to go through it alone. Hait Family Law can provide the clear, compassionate legal advice you need to handle your situation confidently.
If I Begin the Mediation Process, Do I Still Have the Option to Change My Mind?
Divorce is a serious choice that requires careful consideration. Sometimes problems can arise in a marriage that appear insurmountable, and you feel your only option is to end the relationship. But in some cases, while negotiating the terms of your divorce through mediation, you may be able to reach agreements on issues that have been causing strife. If this happens in your case, you are always free to withdraw your suit and stop the divorce proceedings.
At this point, everything goes back to the way it was before the divorce discussion began. However, some documents that you might consider creating that could help stabilize your relationship going forward include the following:
- A postnuptial agreement: This agreement is similar to a prenup, except it is made after your marriage. It is a binding document that outlines what would happen in the event of a divorce regarding the division of property and other topics.
- A “reconciliation or in the alternative” agreement: This document, which is filed with the court, describes the terms that each partner must meet to continue the marriage. It also contains your divorce agreement in the event that the reconciliation does not work out. This can be a valuable tool for working out differences because it clearly sets expectations and allows both parties to understand the full scope of the consequences if they cannot make the marriage work.
What Can a Skilled Family Lawyer Do for You?
Successfully navigating Israel’s complex divorce system on your own can be incredibly difficult. Leaving the outcome of your case in the hands of the court can lead to future financial difficulties and the loss of valuable time with your children. A divorce mediation attorney from Hait Family Law can be the strong advocate you need to guide you through negotiating and documenting a divorce agreement that is tailored to your unique situation. Contact our law firm today at (077) 200 8161 to discover how we can assist you.
preventing him from leaving?
you from leaving Israel?