Child Support in Israel

Child support in Israel is determined under the provisions of section 3 (a) of the Family Law Amendment (Child Support) 5719 – 1959 stating that the parent’s duty to provide child support to his/her minor children is determined by the personal law applicable to him/her. Assuming the parties are Jewish, the law applicable to them is the Hebrew law.

So what does the Hebrew law actually state regarding the matter of child support payment and how do the courts in Israel interpret the instructions of the Hebrew Law?

A. A child up to the age of 6 years – up to the age of 6 years the father is obligated to nourish his child. This obligation will apply even if the father has no means, he is still required to provide for all their needs.

According to the guiding ruling, the minimal amount for covering the minors’ basic needs is 1,300NIS-1,400NIS, this sum has been updated during the years. To this, one should add the amount for the educational expenses of the children and their relative part of the expenses of the household.

Having said that, it has been ruled lately, that, there might be case where it would be proved that the minors’ basic needs are lower, thus the father will be charged with a smaller sum.

B. A child between the ages of 6-15 years – above the age of 6 years, the father’s obligation is not absolute as before; In other words, when it comes to the essential needs of the child, the father is committed to the Jewish definition “enforcement of the law”, i.e., an absolute obligation to the essential needs, imposed on him and not the mother.
In regard of the minor’s extra needs, both parents are equally required to nourish the minor, according to their ability and the minor’s needs. It has been ruled that a comprehensive balance of the family’s income should be made, taking in to consideration all financial abilities, sources of income and property from both sides compared with the minor’s needs.

So, what are the “basic needs” the father is absolutely required to pay?

When it comes to the basic needs of existence, it has been determined based on countless case laws that they are:

(a) Food.
(b) Clothing and footwear.
(c) The children’s share in the rent and household expenses
In most cases, all other expenses will be categorized as nonessential needs.

C. A child between the ages of 15-18 years – according to Jewish law, child support for minors these ages is based on the ancient Charity Jewish law and has three parameters:

(a) Parents’ affluence

(b) The obligation to give charity is to the needy, i.e. one who cannot take care of himself/herself.

(c) The child should be supported by the parent with the income

Unlike the obligation to child support up to the age of 6 years, where the father is solely responsible, when it comes to charity based needs – the mother is in the same position as the father and charging her with child support will depend on her ability to give charity as well as other tests, taking in to account not only the father’s income but the mother’s income as well and if both do earn a living this addition to the earnings will be divided relatively between the father and the mother.

In principle, a mother could be charged to pay child support but charging her will be according to the charity law which is not absolute like the father obligation due to the fact that according to the charity law, the mother has to prioritize her own maintenance.

D. A child aged 18 until the end of his/her army service – when the child reaches the age of 18 years the amount paid is reduced by two thirds. The reason for this is that, during the army service, most of the soldiers sleep at their base or, if there is no accommodation the soldier will receive an allowance, in addition to the food and uniform supplied by the army.
Hence, it has been determined that when the child reaches the age of 18 years or enlists (whichever the latter) the amount paid for child support will be reduced to a third of the original amount, up to the age of 20/21 or the end of his/her army service, according to the latter.

Finally, it is important to note the guidelines of the Israeli courts’ ruling according to which a child support claim is a monetary claim that needs to be proved as any other claim, where the absence of evidence, determining the needs of minors will be subject to judicial discretion of the trial judge.