The legal capacity and guardianship Act determines that the parents of a minor (a child under the age of 18) are the natural guardians of their children, in the absence of agreement on a particular subject (medical treatment, choice of educational institution, manner of managing the minor’s assets), the Israeli family court will decide what is in the child’s best interest.

Even when divorced, the guardianship of both parents is not impaired, despite the fact that physical custody may be granted to only one parent, but this does not allow that parent to determine exclusively these important issues.

The law provides that children under the age of six will automatically be transferred to the mother’s custody. However, over the years, this presumption has been curtailed by the judicial courts. Today, each case has been examined on its merits and nothing is set in stone, as an ad hook Committee (the Schnitt Committee) ¬†recommend this predisposition to be annulled.

Many judges in Israel prefer not to grant the title “guardian” to any of the parents, and to determine “joint parental responsibility,” and the term “visitation rights” is slowly replaced by the term “shared living arrangements.” This is based on the understanding that in many cases, Both parents are equal (or almost equal) in their parenting capabilities, so in these cases the old terminology is no longer relevant.

The issue of custody (and the scope of the shared living arrangements) has a direct impact on the amount of child support that is determined, and this is a significant point of friction between couples in the process of divorce, and this became even more chaotic after the Supreme Court ruling ¬†IFR 919/15 , which set a precedent In the case of joint custody, identical stay times, and parents earning the same salary, it may be possible to cancel the father’s liability to pay child support for children over the age of 6 (except for the payment of his share in education and health expenses).

Proper management of the divorce process, including choosing the appropriate tribunal for the procedure (the Rabbinical Court or the Family Court), may dramatically affect the identity of the custodial parent and, consequently, the child support payments (or lack thereof).

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