Topics about Family Law in the State of Israel
What happens concerning child support payments in Israel when the child’s mother isn’t Jewish and the father is Jewish?
The Personal Law:
According to Israeli law concerning child support which is based on Jewish law, the father is obliged to support the basic needs of a child regardless of either parents’ income or assets even if the mother’s income is considerably higher than the father’s income.
However, when the child’s mother isn’t Jewish the law based on the Jewish law and obligations does not apply since then the child isn’t considered Jewish by Jewish law so then the income of both parents will be taken into consideration and the support payments often are considerably less because instead of just essential expenses a wider range of expenses are taken into consideration which are seen as obligations under Jewish law but not civil law.
If the child’s mother is Jewish, as a result, the child is then considered Jewish by Jewish law. Then, the monthly payments would most likely be higher because certain costs might seem more obligatory where with a non-Jewish mother only the most basic needs are obligatory.
In a recent case, the Honorable Ariel Neeman from Family Court in the “Kraiot“, awarded one mother 700 NIS per month for child support. One month after the initial judgment, the mother was back asking for more money because of special circumstances. She claimed her expenses increased after she and her child had to move out of where they were living for free when the initial judgment was made and her expenses had now increased substantially. The father in turn responded that she was lying and hiding her real income.
The law does allow for a change in the amount of child support when there is a significant change in the financial status of the parent who has primary custody of a child; yet, Judge Neeman refused her request.
The mother filed an appeal with the appellate court claiming the child was being discriminated against because they weren’t Jewish.
In the appeal, the Honorable Judge Sharaabi ruled in favor of the mother’s appeal to have the payments she receives increased BUT also made a point to say that the laws aren’t discriminatory and they had been tested in previous cases by the highest courts; yet, he was ruling partially in her favor because her financial status had indeed changed and that the expenses of her new dwelling were an essential expense and covered under the law.
Since appellate courts rarely overturn the amount of payments that lower courts award, the judge at the appellate level did not make a judgment how much she should receive; but, the judge did order the case be returned to the lower court and ordered that her payments should be increased but didn’t say by how much but left that “freedom of judgment” with the lower court to decide by how much.
The importance of these kinds of cases today:
Today, more judges are ruling in favor of granting child support not only in accordance to the needs of the child but to the assets and capabilities of both parents regardless of their religion which is a big turn-around from when the law was first implemented in the early 1960’s.