Child support in Israel

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The laws governing child support in Israel are based on the parent's religion. The father is always absolutely responsible for child support, "Mezonot", and Israeli women are exempt from paying child support, unless both parents are considered "without religion" at birth. In most divorces in Israel the parents are Jewish and therefore Jewish law, mostly enacted in the 11th and 12th centuries, and not modern civil law, controls the dispute in both family courts and the rabbinical courts. The laws applied are based mainly on halacha enacted in the 11th and 12th centuries.

According to Jewish law, the father is the only parent responsible for child support. In Israel, the woman is always exempt from paying child support, and her income and assets are not a factor in awarding the child support. Therefore, even when a father is awarded custody of the children, he is still liable to pay full child support to his former wife, even if she does not raise the children. In certain situations a non-custodian mother can also collect "hospitality fees", i.e. the father has to pay the mother for the costs of her visitations with the children.

According to Jewish law, the father's income is not relevant to child support. Usually it is a multiplication of the minimum allowance of 1,400 NIS per child, multiplied by the number of children, plus a contribution to the mother's housing expenses ("Mador"), i.e. if the custodian mother is renting an apartment, the father must pay 30% of her rental expenses, plus 30% of utilities (electricity, phones, housing maintenance, etc.) in case of 1 child, 40% for 2 children, and 50% for 3 children or more. The woman can choose any accommodation she wishes and just show a lease and receipts. If the woman owns an apartment, or lives free (for example with parents, friends, a new lover or a Kibbutz) then the father must pay virtual housing expenses, as if she is renting an apartment at arm's length anywhere she wishes. This is called "Mador Raayoni".

In addition, the father must pay 50% of any kindergarten expenses, which could be up to 1,500 NIS per month per child, babysitting expenses up to age 11, half of all extraordinary medical and dental expenses, summer vacations and two extracurricular classes per month at 150 NIS to 300 NIS, during the school year. In some cases, in addition to basic maintenance, the courts will order the father to continue to support the mother after the separation, pay 100% of full-time kindergarten expenses even if the mother does not work, pay all medical expenses both of the children and the mother, including regular psychological treatments or any other treatment loosely considered to be therapeutic.

The enforcement of non-payment is extremely efficient and fast, including inpounding cars, imposing attachment orders on salaries and imprisonment.

The mother receives 100% of all governmental Children's allowances. New children are never a reason to reduce the child support allowance. Incarceration, hospitalization, and medical paralysis are also not valid reasons to reduce child support.

Israel's child support levels are the highest the world, with Switzerland being second, and twice or three times higher than US and Europe, per OECD charts.

Both family courts and rabbinical courts are very hostile to men. The costs of fighting a child support case in court usually begins at 30,000 NIS. Usually, a contested child support case results automatically in an award of legal expenses to the wife, anywhere between 10,000 NIS to 60,000 NIS. As soon as divorce proceedings begin, in many cases a No Exit Order against the man, to prevent him from leaving the country. There is no penalty for women who make false reports to the police of violence.

The payment of child support in Israel does not guaranty access to the children. In fact, the mother has a virtual veto right on whether to deny or withhold access or visitations with the children. The tender years doctrine, which has been long abolished in most of the Western world, giving automatic custody of children up to the age of 6 to the mother, still applies in Israel.

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