Request for Settlement of Dispute

If someone would have told you that instead of conducting a legal process in the framework of a divorce procedure and exercising your rights with the help of a skilled family lawyer, you will need to apply to a foreign party to help you resolve a dispute with your spouse. Would you be interested? I’m not sure.

In the following article I will discuss a new procedure that was added to Israeli law under the Family Disputes (Temporary Order) Law, 5714-1964 (hereinafter: “the Law for the Settlement of Litigation”). This law obliges the litigants to conduct a formal procedure of dialogue, even before filing a claim, which is not free from difficulties, as I shall explain below.

What is a request to settle a dispute?

A request to settle a dispute is a request that the parties are obligated to submit to the court before they initiate formal legal proceedings in the family area. We are dealing with a request to the Family Court to “settle a dispute” between family members. This is not a legal action for the Family Court in the formal sense, but rather a request for a kind of “assistance” in resolving a dispute.

When a request for dispute settlement is submitted, the procedure is referred to an aid unit, which is located next to each family court. The assistance unit consists of social workers and psychologists with experience in mediation in family law disputes. But please note, with allusion to what is to come, that these professionals have no legal education.

Furthermore, when a request for dispute settlement is submitted, all legal proceedings between the spouses are completely frozen. So that it is not possible to file a claim relating to the dispute, except from the moment 45 days have elapsed from the day on which a dispute settlement request was submitted or 60 days if the date was extended. For the purpose of clarification, it should be noted that the aforesaid law is intended to prevent a particular spouse from attempting to acquire a procedural advantage in a particular judicial tribunal, while camouflaging his actions by submitting a claim to settle a dispute.

What law regulates the request to settle a dispute?

The law that regulates the request to settle a dispute is the law for the settlement of litigation, which was mentioned fully at the beginning of this article. This law states in section 1 that “the purpose of this law is to assist spouses and parents and their children to settle a family dispute between them by agreement and by peaceful means, and to reduce the need for litigation, taking into account all of the aspects of the conflict and the welfare of each child.” At the same time, the Law for the Arrangement of Litigation stipulates that a person who wishes to file a claim in a family matter (including alimony, divorce, financial relations, etc.) will first submit a claim for the settlement of dispute.

Please note that on the one hand, a request to settle a dispute is a very unique procedure that holds within it worthy purposes, including –  the provision of assistance to family members who want to avoid complex legal proceedings at times, and to hold a discussion, even partial, before filing for action. In addition, an additional good purpose of the law is to reduce the burden placed on the courts. At the same time, I will discuss the difficulties arising from the law for the settlement of the litigation.

A dispute settlement request has been filed against me – do I have to cooperate?

The answer is yes. Section 3 (b) (1) of the Law for the Arrangement of Litigation states that an invitation to sit as part of a request to settle a dispute is tantamount to a court order. Therefore, I believe that one must cooperate and avoid any unpleasantness along the way.

Is it worthwhile to use a dispute resolution procedure? What are the difficulties in this process?

As stated, the option of submitting a request to settle a dispute is ostensibly intended for a good purpose. It is intended to enable spouses to engage in dialogue, which is certainly worthy in itself. The problem is that the said procedure is not free from difficulties, to say the least. Let me explain:

The procedure is conducted by professionals with no legal education – as we have indicated above, the workers of the aid unit, who are certainly doing a good job, have no legal education. This leads to the fact that litigants who conduct a dispute settlement process do not benefit from a legal professional who outlines the proceedings, notes the rights and obligations, and the legal risks of each party. Due to the fact that divorce proceedings are material proceedings, representation and legal knowledge are so necessary.

Violation of substantive and procedural rights – with all due respect to the fact that mediation and dialogue between spouses is important. The possibility of “freezing” all of the legal proceedings by submitting a claim for settlement of the dispute is likely to result in infringement of the substantive rights of one of the parties. In addition, the procedural right – that is, the right to approach the courts and exhaust your rights – is also violated in such cases.

In conclusion

A request to settle a dispute is ostensibly intended for a proper purpose, which is mediation between spouses who are in the process of divorce. However, this request is not free from difficulties as detailed above. In any case, it is very important to be accompanied by an experienced divorce lawyer.