Israel implemented the “Obligatory Divorce Mediation” law in July 2016, also known as the “Law for Judicial Procedures in Family Disputes.” This law aims to streamline the process of divorce litigation in Israel, without altering the substantive issues. This article provides a concise overview of the law and highlights concerns surrounding its implementation.
Misconceptions and Initial Process
Contrary to popular belief, the law does not mandate compulsory mediation before couples can proceed with divorce in Israel. The law is still subject to interpretation by judges, and its precise procedures are yet to be determined. Its main purpose is to organize divorce-related lawsuits and establish a specific procedure.
Under the law, when one spouse (Spouse A) files a “Bakasha LiYashev Sichsuch” (a request to resolve a dispute), a 45-day freeze period is initiated. During this period, neither spouse can file a lawsuit against the other, except for emergency requests made to the Family Court or the Rabbinic Court, such as preventing a spouse from leaving the country.
Initial Meeting and Recommendations
Both spouses are invited to an initial meeting with a court-affiliated social worker. The social worker evaluates the situation and makes recommendations for further action. These recommendations may include additional meetings with the social worker, attending marital therapy, engaging in mediation, or pursuing divorce through the courts.
During the initial meeting, attorneys are not present, but both spouses can consult their respective attorneys via telephone. If subsequent meetings with the social worker are scheduled, attorneys may be present.
Resumption of Litigation
After the 45-day freeze period (or longer if agreed upon), the spouse who filed the initial request can initiate litigation within a 15-day window. Detailed legal procedures and requirements come into play at this stage. Those interested in learning more about the system can access a complimentary mini video course provided by legal professionals.
Concerns and Future Implications
One significant concern surrounding the law is the potential vulnerability of victims of domestic abuse, who may be forced to negotiate with their abusive partners without legal representation, relying solely on the presence of a social worker. The outcomes and implications of the law will become clearer as it is put into practice and undergoes further evaluation.
Israel’s “Obligatory Divorce Mediation” law, effective since July 2016, streamlines the process of divorce litigation. While it does not enforce mandatory mediation, it establishes a framework for organizing divorce-related lawsuits. Concerns remain about the protection of vulnerable individuals in abusive relationships. The impact and effectiveness of the law will be further assessed as it is implemented and reviewed for necessary modifications.
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