Until the last decade, there is a noticeable inequality seen in the rulings of custody in the Family Courts and the Rabbinical Courts. In most cases minors (especially young children) were physically in their mother’s care and the father had set “visitation rights” of once or twice a week. All this was true until the last decade.
Nowadays the situation is different, the concept is changing and there are a few draft laws aiming to change the existing situation. There are more cases where the time spent with each parent is extended and parental responsibilities are shared up to equality in the time spent by minors with each one of their parents.
So, how does joint custody effect the determination of alimony?
The above mentioned developments in society and Israeli law in general, and in family law particularly, have led to an arouse of a large-scale outcry in the Israeli society for a change of judicial and legal attitudes regarding alimony, so that in cases of joint parental responsibility and similar earnings of both parents, these factors will be taken into account when ruling for alimony.
The courts’ awareness to this subject has increased, as, for example, was said by the honorable judge Rubenstein in this contexts:
“In this regard, since the personal law discriminates against fathers over mothers, when it comes to child support and mothers who have their income over mothers who have only assets, the court must act to the best of its discretion to reduce unreasonable or unlikely results or ones that differ significantly from our legal system in general and the principle of equality, in particular. This duty of the court to act against inequality and against unfair or unjust results, is derived from our general duty to protect and anchor the values of the Constitution …. “
The question of joint custody in relation to the father’s obligation to provide child support was recently discussed extensively in rulings. The courts have ruled that a joint parental arrangement will cause a reduction in the rate and scope of billing but not in its essence namely: the father will charged according to the laws accepted in the Hebrew law so that he will continue to be responsible for all the necessary needs of his minor children up to the age of 15 and above the necessities, both parents will be charged in accordance to their financial abilities.
Therefore, even in a case where joint custody was ruled, the court will not accept a claim that a father should be completely exempt from his duty to provide child support.
What is the rete of reduction in payment due to joint custody?
In the past, it was custom to reduce 25% of the amount of child support given if sole custody was given to the mother.
More so, it has been ruled that the reduction in child support is not automatic but depends on the circumstances. The right amount of child support will be determined after reviewing the evidence of each case while balancing and weighting all the relevant considerations.
When reading past rulings one can see that the courts didn’t automatically reduce the rate of child support in cases of joint custody.
Moreover, the father was charged with most of the payments needed to provide for the minors’ needs even though joint custody was ruled.
What is the case today?
Some years have passed since these court ruling were given and, as mentioned, Social Transformations occurred and new attitudes developed all influencing the child support rulings.
The district court in the center has recently expressed its position regarding ruling for child support where there is joint custody and the income of both parties is equal, or the mother has a higher income than the father. In an appeal case it was ruled that, due to the fact that both parties have the same earnings and share joint custody, the amount the father pays for his minor daughters’ child support should be reduced by 50% (half of 1,300NIS that was ruled for each child as basic child support). In accordance to the same approach the amount paid by the father for household was reduced by half too. It was also determined that the father will not pay the excess expenses of the minors during vacation time when the minors were not in the school system and the reduced child support will continue till the age of 18, but not during the army service.
In a different appeal case the father was charged with only half the payment for the necessary expenses of the minors and half of the household expenses too, due to the fact that his income was lower than the mother and joint custody was ruled.
However, although However, despite the welcome change in Israeli courts’ rulings, there is no uniform approach today regarding their rulings on the matter of child support in joint custody cases. One can see different approaches in the ruling of various judges.
The time has come for the Supreme Court to have its say regarding the matter of charging child support when there is joint custody.