My wife, a convert to Judaism, who made Aliyah from France to Israel, wants to return to return to her native Paris,with our children, one of whom was born in France, where we lived , prior to her immigration, and one in Israel,afterwards. She claims I will be wasting my time and money if I object as the court in Israel will give her permission to relocate with the children anyway. Is she right? I am a “hands-on” dad, with flexible work hours, and object to my relationship with the children being threatened this way and the children living with her in France especially in the light of the attacks in Paris and anti-semitism in recent years.

Firstly, if you object to your wife’s relocation plans, then she can only  relocate to France legally with your mutual children,  if she first gains custody and pripermission to relocate from an Israeli court. If she takes the law into her own hands, and just leaves with the children, you can bring civil child abduction proceedings for their return under the Hague Convention, which binds both Israel and France.

Secondly, if your wife applies for custody and relocation, at an Israeli family court, you can object to relocation , as part of your defence, even if you do not object to custody (though you may consider counter-filing for custody, as you say you have flexible working hours).

There are points in your favour : the fact that your wife converted to Judaism, connected her destiny with the Jewish people and immigrated to Israel, especially after the birth of your elder child. However, while the court will look at the competing rights of all involved (each parent, and the children), ultimately it will make its decision on the basis of what it perceives as being in the children’s best interests ( i.e.  the least detrimental alternative).

You do not state your children’s age: this could be relevant. If they are very young,  and under 6, possible difficulties of adjustment are minimized/deemed irrelevant , and could act in favour of relocation. However if the children are older, of school age , around 10 or so and regarded as mature and not subject to brainwashing from either parent, then  their own views, if expressed, could be relevant, as part of the court process, which normally involves the appointment of a neutral professional (child psychologist) to prepare a report and make  recommendations , on custody, relocation and visitation. The court is normally guided by such recommendations, though is not bound to accept them.

Your wife’s claim that she will beat you in a court battle over relocation is far too simplistic, though the younger the  children, the greater her chances of success. Even then, proceedings in custody and relocation can be protracted, and last several years, with appeals, which can increase the chances of the children’s views becoming a significant factor, and even justifying an updated expert opinion from a child psychologist.