Israeli Family Law system needs an overhaul or at least a substantial change

Is the Israeli Family Law system near bankruptcy?

For those of you who have had previously used the Family Law Court or the Rabbinical Court in Israel I pose a simple question: How many of you believe you had a fair trial?

Of course, we cannot ask all of the people who were main victims in all of those cases: Specifically, the children who were involved in a messy divorce.

The future of these children often rest with the decisions of the Family Law Court and Rabbinical Court.  Often these decisions are not only based on facts but also from misleading testimony from parents who have their own personal agendas.

Judges and Lawyers:

Unfortunately, many of our judges are making decisions based only on the input from testimony from “experts”.  There are too many problems with expert testimonies such as: They often cost a small fortune that most people cannot afford, many of these experts are not impartial, and have unrealistic expectations from people thus leading them to making illogical recommendations.

Often, lawyers never rest their cases until both sides are “emotionally exhausted”.  Too many lawyers see a divorce case as a battlefield with the opposing spouse as the enemy. Many lawyers are too emotional and lose sight of what is important with the case.  They often are not concerned with the needs of the children involved when its a custody case. Ultimately, it is the children who end up being the real victims.

Society is paying the price – single families: 

Today, there are about 15-20 thousand people in Israel who file for divorce every year. That is a lot of people when you consider how many people are affected by each divorce.

According to the National Insurance report of 2013, “The number of single parent families in Israel reached 137,000 in 2013, constituting 12.4% of the total number of families with children in the country. In that year, the number of children in single-parent families reached 229,000, constituting 8.6% of all children in the country.

Single-parent families are generally headed by a woman; only 3% of them are headed by a man. Legislative changes regarding the social rights of single-parent women have led to changes in their occupational behavior, but their rate of participation in the labor force as well as their wage levels have always been higher than that of women in two-parent families.”

It is a fact that the level of poverty is much higher in single parent households than in two parent ones. However it’s the children who are suffering the most, who are the main victims of divorce.

The backlash of children living in poverty as a result of divorce can be seen in many different areas.  Most children lack the tools to cope with the devastation of dealing with divorce. This will ultimately cost taxpayers more money in the long-run because more and more families are filing for welfare.

The Emotional National Quotient:

The impact is mostly a “future inevitable” impact. The consequences will be most noticeable in the educational area but also on what I like to call: “The Emotional National Quotient”. Children who lack the basic tools to handle real life situations also will affect the general ENQ. This leads to more “troubled families” with more needs that cannot be fulfilled, resulting in more families being dependent on welfare. In the long run it is a catastrophe and it already affects negatively our National resilience.

Other countries – other systems – other opinions:

There are more effective methods that other countries have adopted (or at least they claim it’s more effective) when dealing with divorce.  These methods usually consist of testimony from social workers, psychologists and experts.  Although effective, these methods overload the courtroom with non impartial testimony. Expert testimony has quickly transformed into a very lucrative industry that has been saturated with experts making a quick buck.

An explosive suggestion:

If we remove the financial disputes from the Family Court/Rabbinic Court systems then these disputes could usually beIsraeli Family Law system needs an overhaul resolved with one hearing only. Let the Appellate Court (“Beit Mishpat Mehozi”) deal with these cases cases. We will dramatically drop the number of cases decided in courtrooms. Most cases would be solved with a little help from mediators or lawyers outside courtrooms’ – better and faster.

The amount of legal fees would also be lower due to the fact that the cases would be solved in a fraction of the time and legal work involved. And then the Appellate Court would decide only unresolved or more involved cases.

In my opinion, Family Law Judges have too much power today.  They have more power than any other Judge does at the same level tribunal (“Beit Mishpat Shalom”), but they don’t have the appropriate tools to deal with such cases. At least not for most of their first years on the bench.

More balance and sanity are needed where too much power is involved.