Israeli Family-Law Forum - Maintenance-Children

Below are readers' questions about 'Maintenance-Children', which we have chosen to answer. Further , and more detailed information on Israeli family law issues that relate to child maintenance is found on our main site. To obtain the best results, run a search using relevant key words. Specific information can be found under 'Maintenance' and particularly at: http://www.family-laws.co.il/maintenance-children http://www.family-laws.co.il/maintenance-increasing-reducing-maintenance http://www.family-laws.co.il/maintenance-jurisdiction http://www.family-laws.co.il/maintenance-temporary-maintenance http://www.family-laws.co.il/maintenance-strategies-against-non-payment

Yes! In 2006 the Haifa District Court held that joint custody can bring about a change in the amount of child maintenance due, even reducing it by around 25% from the sum where the minors are in the mother’s sole custody. Each case is to be decided on its merits,according to the particular circumstances. Since 2006 family courts have decided both ways regarding child maintenance levels following a switch from sole to joint custody,sometimes reducing the level,sometimes increasing it,and sometimes keeping it the same. You would be advised to seek individual legal counselling.

Two possible lines of legal action should be considered to tackle the child maintenance set, apparently according to an agreement authorised in court.  One option relates to cancelling the agreement, wholly or in part, according to the restricted grounds under contract law, to be examined according to the particular circumstances. In general it is very difficult to cancel court-authorised agreements. However, if you were not represented by an lawyer, issues of possible mistake or deceit ,which are grounds for cancellation, should be checked out, as you do not speak Hebrew, before this option is ruled out. 

The second possible option is to file for a reduction in child maintenance - based on a substantial change in circumstances. On the face of it, from what you say, you could well have a basis for this - and you would be advised to get individual legal counselling, so that the agreement and ruling can be examined, in relation to the apparent changed circumstances of both yourself and your ex-wife. You will then be advised as to whether you have a good chance of succeeding in getting the maintenance reduced.

Yes – because it is part of your overall income, and if it were not  it  would be regarded as part of your earning potential,which would lead to a similar result. So held the Supreme Court in Leave of Family Appeal Case  3432/09 in June 2009 where 500 NIS that the father funnelled from his salary into savings accounts were ,it said, correctly taken into account by the family court when it set child maintenance.

Though salary level is important,it is just one aspect of a father's overall  financial capability which derives "not only from the salary - and certainly not from the 'net' amount of the salary which often does not reflect the true picture.....but from the sum of all the financial sources available to the person paying the maintenance,including assets,savings and even earning potential," the Supreme Court emphasised in Family Appeal Case 3432/09,  in June 2009. The main issue is not how much a father earns but rather how much he can allocate to providing for his children’s needs,it said.

It should be stressed,however,that depending on the parents' religion,and the children's ages,the financial responsibility for supporting minor children may fall solely on one parent (the father) or be shared between both parents,depending on their relative incomes.

 

The family court. The religious courts do not have any jurisdiction here because both the rabbinical and Sha’ari (Moslem religious) courts require all parties to belong to their religion,in order to have jurisdiction,and this is not the case.
Firstly ,you can appeal against the ruling to the Greater Rabbinical Court,and if you lose, or win,but the practical outcome is akin to losing,you can consider filing a petition against both courts, to the Supreme Court of Justice. Under exceptional circumstances, Israeli law allows petitions to be brought against religious courts and for the Supreme Court of Justice to intervene in their decision making process, if they acted outside their authority /the constitutional right to a fair legal process were railroaded  and there was grave injustice. It can cancel judgments and decisions, usually where the wronged individual has exhausted the legal process,including all possible appeals.
 
In January 2010 our legal practice filed a petition against Beersheva Rabbinical Court and the Greater Rabbinical Court concerning six child maintenance judgments made against a father,a Yeshiva student, without  him being invited /having the opportunity to attend  any hearing,or even to file a defence, in total contradiction of rabbinical court procedures,and principles of a fair hearing. While the Greater Rabbinical Court accepted the father’s appeal in principle, it failed to return the case to the district court to rehear the matter,so the victory was “hollow” leaving the father to face the practical injustice of the farcical and illegal process.

While there is nothing to prevent a person from representing himself at an Israeli family court, and not hiring a lawyer, if you do so, your rights are unlikely to be properly protected because of your lack of legal knowledge and training (legislation,case law and procedural rules), and your inexperience at advocacy and managing legal proceedings. There are no standard forms that would result in an automatic change in the level of child maintenance set by an Israeli court if your income changes.

Yes, in principle – providing the issue of paternity is not in dispute,and the law of the country where the child lives obliges the father  to support his child. If the father is registered on the foreign birth certificate this will be sufficient to prove paternity. If not you will have to prove paternity,either by genetic testing ordered by the family court in Israel, where proceedings would be held, or, as an exception,on the basis of other documentary evidence,such as letters and pictures.

While you can bring the action in Israel, the Family Law Amendment (Maintenance) Act of 1959, which obliges Israeli residents/citizens to support their minor children, specifically states that where the child lives abroad, this obligation will depend on the law of the country where the child lives, and you will need to prove this by means of expert evidence.

Yes, as long as the children live in the family home, there will clearly be no need to set maintenance for renting a property for them to live in, within the amount set for “accommodation” ,as bare shelter will be provided. However, the parent who is obliged to pay child maintenance will still have to bear a relative portion of other accommodation costs such as municapility taxes, house committee dues, electricity,gas, telephone/internet etc.

Firstly, if both parents are Jewish,the financial burden of supporting the children falls solely on the father anyway, until the minors are 15, so the mother’s salary and earning potential is only relevant after that, when parental responsibility for supporting  minor children is shared, and depends upon their relative incomes.
 
Secondly,if one of the parents is non-Jewish,the situation is different,and the mother’s earnings could become relevant even at the children’s current age,as the maintenance obligation will depend either on the relevant personal (religious law) of the parties,or rest on the civil law obligation,which shares the burden between both parents,depending on their relative incomes irrespective of the children’s ages.
Yes , if child maintenance proceedings are brought against you, or you agree. By law, you are obliged to support your minor daughter, and to pay maintenance for her. If a maintenance ruling already exists, you are not entitled to take the law into your hands and cease paying child support even if your wife prevents you from seeing your daughter. Your legal proceedings for visitation rights , or breach of them, are a separate issue.
Yes! A man proved to be the biological father of a child, even if the pregnancy was unintentional and unwanted, on his part, and he was ‘tricked’ into becoming a father, is liable to support the minor. Under Israeli law a man must bear the full consequences of sexual intercourse with a woman,including the financial burden of supporting an 'unwanted' child. Where the mother is single, the court usually orders D.N.A. testing to establish paternity, if it is denied.

If the late or non-payment of child maintenance is in contradiction of an arrangement set in a divorce agreement or court judgment/decision,and is part of a clear pattern, rather than one or two isolated incidents, then you can make an appropriate claim ,based on contempt of court. Within this, you can ask the court to fine the father for his omissions regarding child maintenance,and for breach of the agreeement or judgment/decision concerning child maintenance. This type of legal action on your part is designed to put the father back on track regarding his fulfillment of his financial obligation to support your mutual child.

You have 10 days to file  your written response - you would be advised to get suitable legal counselling and representation,so that you can present your case properly, both in terms of the substantive and procedural law governing child maintenance. If you do not, you could find your response does not even meet the basic,techical requirements, and is liable to be struck out on these grounds alone. 

Yes! Child maintenance is separate and in addition to child benefit paid by the national insurance institute ('Bituach Leumi'),according to law.

Yes, it is possible. Child maintenance in Israel is not just based on a minor's needs, but also depends on the parents' religious affiliation and earning potential.

Where the custodial mother and the father are Jews, then Jewish religious law applies, and he,alone, is responsible for providing the child's basic needs until the age of 15. Where the custodial mother is Jewish, but the father is Christian, civil law applies, and both parents are responsible for providing the child's basic needs,depending on their relative incomes.

Accordingly, it is quite possible that your friend,who was married to a Jew, gets around twice as much child maintenance as you,who were married to a Christian,even though you both have children of a similar age.

The court will calculate the needs of each child,and afterwards the income and earning ability of each parent. Where the parents have different religions,as in this case, the financial burden for supporting their minor children is shouldered by both of them, according to their relative incomes.

Yes, in certain circumstances! According to section 4(2) of the Family Law Amendment (Maintenance) Act of 1959, a person can be obliged to pay maintenance for a child who has reached adulthood, providing he,himself, has enough to supply his own needs, those of  his spouse/partner and his minor children, and , providing that his  disabled adult child "is unable to supply his needs from work,his property or from another source."

Yes ! You are still legally obliged to pay child maintenance for your son even if he is abroad on holiday with his mother for a month. His material needs as quantified by court exist,whether he is actually in Israel or abroad.

No! Minor children's rights to maintenance are totally independent from their mother's behaviour. Your children will still be entitled to be supported by their father irregardless of whether you leave home, and whether you were justisfied in doing so.

Yes, you can open a child maintenance file against the father, at your local family court in Israel, and ask for permission to serve him with the documents overseas.

Under Jewish law a father is able to get a reduction in child maintenance if his teenage son is "rebellious". You can apply to court for a reduction in child maintenance, based on his behaviour. If you are found not to be at fault and your son's refusal to see you is unjustified, they you may well be entitled to pay him less.

Quite possibly - you will  need to apply to court for a reduction in your maintenance obligation. It will decide whether the drop in salary is sufficient in your case to amount to a substantial change in circumstances that justifies reducing the child maintenance you should pay.

Yes,  you can ask the court to reduce your child maintenance obligation. In principle, remarriage and the birth of an additional child are regarded as changes in circumstances that can justify a reduction in child maintenance. If the court considers this to be true, given your particular circumstances, then it will order a reduction.

She can open a file at the bailiff's concerning the maintenance debt, and request an order obliging his employer to deduct the child maintenance from his salary every month, and transfer it to her.  She can also request that back maintenance owed be deducted from his bank account, if she knows with which bank he has an account,even if she does  not know the branch.

Possibly - this will depend on your relative incomes. Under Jewish law, once a child is over the age of 15, the burden of supporting them no longer falls solely on the father's shoulders. It is shared between the parents,depending on their relative incomes. If you do not work, or do, but have a low income compared to your ex-husband, then he will still be liable for all or most of the burden of supporting your daughter. If, however, you have a reasonable salary, you will be obliged to participate in supporting her financially.

Yes, there is an accepted principle that a conscripted soldier who was entitled to child maintenance as a minor, should get a third of the amount he received previously, during his army service, though the definitive answer may well depend upon the wording of the court order, or agreement authorised by court.

Normally until the child reaches 18, but longer if there is a court judgment or agreement stating that it should be paid until after he/she finishes high school , even if after the age of  18, or until he/she starts compulsory military service.

Yes, he is under a civil law obligation to support the child, if paternity is established in the family court, even if the pregnancy was unintentional . Islamic law does not recognise paternity outside of marriage, and there is no obligation for the Moslem father of child born to a single  Moslem mother to support the minor. Accordingly, the Sha'ari (Moslem religious) court has no role here.

Under Jewish law, the father will be sole financial responsibility until the children are 15. From the age of 15-18 financial responsibility for supporting the children will be shared between both parents, depending on their relative incomes.

Yes, courts tend to award between 1,200-1,500 Shekels a month  minimum child maintenance, without the accommodation element (contribution towards rent, and overheads).

A groundbreaking ruling was given in July 2017 in Israel dealing with child support for 6-15 year olds in cases of joint physical custody, where the parties are Jewish. An enlarged panel of 7 Supreme Court judges held that the obligation to provide for the basic needs of children between those ages under a more liberal interpretation of Jewish law, and in today’s reality, is a shared parental burden, where physical custody is joint and a function of relative parental income, and earning ability . Previously it was the father’s sole responsibility between these ages.

Even though generally there is a preliminary process before adversarial proceedings can begin at the family court, to allow the opportunity for a mediated solution, child support is an exception, and regarded as an urgent form of relief that a mother may file for straightaway, when opening  a file for dispute resolution at the family court, under the new law and procedures, which came into force in July 2016. Once you file for child support, the father has 10 days to file his response, after he is served with the papers. Both of you are supposed to support your arguments with documentation, and the court can decide, immediately after the 10-day period is up, on the basis of the written material before it, even without a hearing, and even if the father  does not respond, providing you prove that he was served with the papers.

Yes, Israeli courts have jurisdiction over child support concerning a minor living in Israel with the custodial parent. Israeli law adopts the principles of private international law, whereby a child support claim should generally be filed in the country where the child is living and his/her needs are to be met and can be assessed and decided upon by the court. Therefore , if your ex-wife wishes to take action against you in Israel for child maintenace, she could initiate legal proceedings against you at the Israeli family court, and request permission to serve you with the papers abroad . Normally, liability starts from the date proceedings are filed in court, though back maintenance can be claimed , in certain circumstances. If maintenance is set by court and is not paid, it gains interest, and a file can be opened against you at the collection and enforcement office (“the Bailiff’s”) to recover the debt. It is possible to avoid this situation by negotiating an agreement about child support (and also contact with your child/ren), which can be authorized at the family court in Israel, without you having to attend a hearing, if you are represented by counsel in Israel. This would mean that you could enter Israel freely without the risk of action being taken against you for a maintenance debt and see you child/ren in Israel, and possibly,overseas,too. This would be win-win situation for all concerned.

You are liable to support your child, even though you live abroad permanently and under rules of private international law your obligation is according to the laws of Israel, because that is where the child lives, and his needs are to be met, and can be best assessed, and the dispute heard. You cannot escape that financial obligation because your child's mother has remarried, and you do not live in Israel. 

As you are not in contact with your child either, it would seen advisable, and in the child's best interests,  to either enter into negotiations to reach an agreement to deal with both issues i.e. the re-establishment of contact and the rebuilding of your relationship with your child, including virtual contact and meetings, in Israel and overseas, and the issue of child support. This can be done via direct negotiations between lawyers, or via opening a family dispute file at the Family Court, although this is not practical, if you are not intending to visit Israel to attend at least one meeting, in which case you can initiate matters, by applying for contact, or she can, by applying for child support, and shorten the default  pre-court procedure for alternative dispute resolution, which came into force in July 2016.

Our office represents fathers resident overseas in such negotiatons and it is possible to reach an agreement that can be authorized in court without you having to attend in person, if necessary.

 

 

 

 

Yes, Israeli family courts recognize that c-1,400 NIS is needed to cover a child's basic needs (without having to prove them) and excluding the housing  element  but  no, this is not automatically multiplied according to the number of minors in the family. The  relative cost of supporting  additional children's  basic needs, is reduced, as the principle of " a candle for one is light for a hundred" is applied.

Get professional legal advice, to examine the relevant factors, with a view to filing for a reduction in child maintenance. It has become an accepted norm in Israeli family court cases involving child maintenance that a father must be left with at least 2,000 shekels a month to live on himself, at the end of the day.

Possibly, though this will depend on the particular circumstances of your case. There are many different approaches to the subject, in family law decisions , and much will depend on the relative difference in income between the parents. The narrower the gap in their incomes, the greater the potential for reducing the level of child support the father pays, though there are many other factors involved. Some decisions cite a reduction of 25%,as  a rule of thumb, where the court has decided that a reduction is justified, rising to around 50%, depending on the circumstances. All the various methods take into account that at the end of the day the father should be left with at least c 2,000 N.I.S. a month on which to live. In a 2015 appeal court case heard by Lod District Court, it was held that where the parents' incomes are similar , and there is joint custody, the level of child support should be reduced by 50%, including the housing element, but in another appeal case, also in 2015, the Tel Aviv District Court set specific parameters for calculating the level of maintenance that take in to consideration the child's basic needs, his/her basic accommodation needs including share of  running costs, the father's available income (gross salary minus compulsory reductions),the father's housing costs (rent or mortgage) and associated running costs and half of the accommodation and running costs paid to the mother for the child, and the child's non-essential expenses. It is advisable to get individual professional advice if your child/children are with you for approximately half of the time and you feel financially burdened.  

Immediately! You can file for temporary child support when you file the main plea for maintenance for your child/ren. A few years ago, Israeli civil procedure was changed, to make it easier and faster for mothers to file for and be awarded temporary child support. Nowadays, temporary child maintenance is usually awarded by the family court without a hearing, and often soon after the 10 days from the time the father is served with the application, on the basis of written pleadings. The court, however, can refuse to award temporary maintenance without holding a preliminary hearing, but this is the exception, rather than the rule.

Yes! Due to changes in the law a few years ago, you can apply immediately for temporary or even emergency maintenance, when you open the main maintenance file. Previously, you had to wait until a defence was filed, before applying, and often had to wait until the first preliminary hearing months later. Nowadays, courts can even grant temporary or pre-temporary ("emergency") maintenance, after a relatively short time - even 10 days after applying and serving , even before a defence is filed in the main claim -  often on the basis of the written applicaiton and response, without a hearing.
Yes! In 2015 Hadera Family Court in Israel held in a case where it was proved that a man was the biological father of a child by acting as a known sperm donor, without an agreement about shared parenting ,between him and the single woman recipient, who became a mother,he was obliged to pay child support, for the child’s basic needs, at a reduced rate, of 1,500 NIS a month, including housing and associated costs,and 25% of any additional costs.

Firstly, even if your wife has custody of the children, she can only legally relocate with them overseas, if she has your express consent, or if she gains permission from an Israeli court. If you are inclined to agree to the children relocating overseas, under certain conditions, as is apparent from your question, then you should get a written agreement drawn up, for authorization by court. The agreement should cover your consent to the children living overseas on a temporary basis only (two years) , issues of visitation, contact and child maintenance. It is possible to agree on a reduction in child maintenance because you can expect to have to put aside considerable financial resources to cover visitation overseas (your travel and accommodation costs) plus the travel costs of the children to Israel, during their visits here.

If you do not reach agreement with their mother, then she will be obliged to file legal proceedings for permission to relocate temporarily with the minors, and you can condition your consent to this upon a reduction in child support, within the framework of your written defence pleadings. Alternatively, you can file a plea to reduce child support.

Yes - most probably! The Ministry of Interior will  probably refuse to register the father on the basis of declaration that is made several years' late, or other cirucmstantial evidence, that is available and you will be required to file for a declaratory judgment of  paternity at the family court ( jointly, if the presumed biological father is co-operative).

Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible to persuade the court to make a declaration of paternity on the basis of evidence and order the Ministry of Interior to register paternity, although is is likely that the court  will only do this after DNA testing is carried out and there is  a positive finding of paternity. 

Once peternity is established, an applicaiton for child support can be filed against the biological father or an agreement can be reached between you and him, which can be authorized at the family court, and become legally binding.

Foreign law! The relevant Israeli legislation – the 1959 Maintenance Amendment Act - specifically states that the law governing child maintenance is the law of the country in which the child lives. The logic behind this is that the process of assessing and quantifying the child’s needs should take place  in the country where he resides and the minor's needs are to be met.

 

Not necessarily if the father receives a partial or full exemption in a judicial decision. For example, under Jewish law, which applies where the parties are all Jewish,  there are grounds for reducing or cancelling a father’s maintenance obligation towards his “rebellious “ adolescent child if the latter’s refusal to meet is not justified. Courts in Israel recognize such a step as being reserved for extreme cases only after attempts to renew contact between parent and child are unsuccessful, after intervention by the court assistance unit or welfare services and the filing of reports.
In January 2015, Jerusalem Family Court accepted a father’s plea and halved his maintenance obligation towards his “opinionated” daughter 16 year old daughter “until it is proved that the minor acts to renew contact”. According to reports filed within the Jerusalem proceedings, the daughter had refused to meet her father for a prolonged period and had refused to co-operate with the various authorities/entities appointed to renew contact, whereas the father had co-operated.

In the absence of a court decision, both of them , but their relative contribution will depend on many factors,including the amount of time he/she spends on his army base, rather than at home, and how much of his "leave" is spent with each parent.
In December 2012, Tel Aviv Family Court rejected a separated wife's request for maintenance for a teenage child , which she had included in her own plea. The son had been drafted into the army,after the plea was filed. The court held that from the parties' testimony in court, it transpired that the son spent most of his time at his army base,and his free time at his father's home. His father paid for any expenses directly, and gave him pocket money. The son had not co-operated in any way in the mother's action against the father,and had not submitted an affidavit.

Yes – if he brings legal to reduce or cancel the maintenance and the court finds that the son's refusal to meet his father is not justified!

In January 2012, Tel Aviv Family Court , Israel, accepted a father's plea to cancel maintenance for his 14 year old son, immediately reducing it to half , and cancelling it completely, if the child still refused to meet his father when he reached the age of 15. It held there was no justification for the minor's crude and hurtful behavior , that he had been incited against his father, and had no real explanation for his persistent refusal to meet him.

Only the father, until the child is 15, and from the ages of 15-18, both parents, depending on their relative incomes.

Both parents, taking into account the child's needs,and the parents' relative incomes, based on a civil law obligation.

Only the father. The legal basis for the maintenance obligation of a pre-school child is based on personal, religious law,Jewish law, in this case.

Yes,you are still legally obliged to support your biological child financially,even if the mother remarries. Neither the mother's marriage or the circumstances of the conception (casual sex) relieve you of that legal responsibility.

However,it is likely that the mother's new personal situation (marriage) could influence  the amount of child maintenance you are liable to pay. Regarding, for example, your contribution to the child's accommodation costs, these could be lowered, if the mother and child move in to the husband's own apartment, or if they rent an apartment together, and the husband contributes to the rental costs.

In any case, you are not legally entitled to act unilaterally, and award yourself a "reduction" in maintenance, because of the mother's marriage,without getting court permission beforehand. You would be advised to consider filing a plea for a reduction in child maintenance ,at the family court, through an experienced lawyer, after receiving personal legal counselling, and an appraisal of your chances of success beforehand.