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The differences between divorce procedures in Israel and the U.S.A.

In the U.S., couples do not have a constitutional or legal right to divorce so the divorce "action" actually dissolves the legal marriage. Different states in the U.S. permit married couples to divorce because it serves public policy in its best.To make sure that a particular divorce serves public policy interests, some states require a "cooling-off period," which prescribes a time period after legal separation that spouses must bear before they can initiate divorce proceedings.

Courts in the U.S. recognize two types of divorces:

a) Absolute divorce, known as "divorce a vinculo matrimonii"(from Latin). The meaning is that the marriage is dissolved and the parties will be able to re-marry in time.b) Limited divorce, known as "divorce a menso et thoro" (from Latin, again). The literal meaning is table and bed which is interpreted as food and sleep. This divorce is actually the separation of the couple, where they do not reside together but the marriage itself has not be annulled. The parties may not re-marry, in contrary to the first type.To obtain an absolute divorce, courts require some type of evidence showing misconduct or wrongdoing on one spouse's part, similar to causes for divorce required by the Rabbinic court.An absolute divorce results in the changing back of both parties' statuses to single as opposed to limited divorce where the status of the couple does not change.Some states permit conversion divorce i.e. transforming a limited divorce which is a legal separation into a an absolute - legal divorce, after both parties have been separated for a statutorily-prescribed period of timeMany states in the U.S. have enacted a no-fault divorce law where one is not required to show spousal misconduct. These laws are a response to outdated laws that require proof of different reasons for divorce such as adultery of the spouse, however, even nowadays, not all the states in the U.S. have this law (no-fault divorce law) so in those states the parties are required to show reasons for divorce.

Claims for division of property in the U.S.

After the couple have filed to the court for divorce, the court has to decide regarding the division of property between the couple.In the past, before the existence of the Law to "equalize the division of property between spouses" the legislators tended to prioritize the bread-wining party from the couple. Legislators discriminated women in a non-proportional way because in the 18th and 19th and part of the 20th centuries the percentage of working women was much lower than the percentage at the end of the 20th and beginning of 21st centuries.In the past, the legislators did not take in to account the contribution of the spouse (usually the mother) as housewife and main parent to take care of the children.Nowadays, the courts in the U.S. recognize two types of property, when it comes to procedures of division:
  1. Family property – the couple's property which was obtained/acquired together or apart during the time of the marriage.
  2. Separate property – property each party had before the marriage which did not change its value in a significant way during the time of marriage due to actions of one or both parties. According to the law, if the owner of the separate property converts/exchanges the property for other property or sells the property, the new property or new money related to the sale remain as his/her separate property.
The modern laws strive for equality in the division of the couple's property.Equal division is not necessarily a "half-half" division but rather a just and correct division after taking in to consideration all the circumstances. By just and correct division the judge strives to reach a final separation of the couple and to enable both parties to begin their life after the marriage with a certain amount of independence and financial security.

Criteria of property division

Most courts in the U.S. recognize the following criteria when they come to rule how the property will be divided between the couple:
  1. Contribution to accumulation of the family assets.
  2. Whether one party received a yielding asset while the other did not.
  3. Period of marriage.
  4. Age and health state of the parties.
  5. Earning potential of the parties.
  6. Value of separate assets the parties have.
  7. Social and pension rights each party has.
  8. Which parents is the custodial one and is he/she entitled to alimony.
  9. The contribution of the home-staying/housewife partner.
  10. Consequences of taxation of the property on the parties.
  11. Was the separation of the couple caused due to improper behavior of one of the parties?
In addition, the judges of the family court have a wide authority to consider other criteria.

Alimony payments the the spouse

In a similar way to what is done in Israel, the courts in the U.S. are authorized to order the spouse to pay one of three kinds of alimony to the other spouse:A. Permanent alimony - the paying party is required to continue payments for the rest of the receiving party's life or marriage.B. Temporary alimony - the paying party is required to continue payments for a short period of time until the receiving party can support him/her self independently.C. Rehabilitative alimony - the paying party is required to continue payments for a short period of time after the procedures for division of property have ended. The purpose of this kind of alimony is to help the receiving partner, the one least capable of earning, to acclimatize him/her self to the new life after the ending of the marriage.Courts in the U.S. will order payments of alimony so the receiving party can continue living in the style he/she was accustomed to.Blow are the criteria which the court will rule for alimony:a. Period of marriage. b. Period of separation before divorce. c. Age of the parties. d. Income of the parties. e. Economic potential of each party. f. Health state of each party. g. Relative guilt of each party in ending the marriage.If the couple have common children the court can require the paying party to pay child alimony to the other party but note that wife alimony and child alimony are different things.

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