What is Wife Alimony?

Most of us are familiar with the term “Alimony” when it comes to child support, paid by the father for the welfare of his children. However, not only the children are entitled to alimony, but the wife is too. When is she entitled to alimony? When can she be denied alimony? How can she claim her right to alimony? All the above questions will be answered in the short article below.

By what law is the wife entitled to alimony?

In Israel, marriage and divorce are performed according to the personal- religious law of the couple (to read more about this subject please go to: https://en.hhlaw.org.il/filing-for-divorce/ ). According to the Jewish law, the husband has some obligations to his wife. One of these obligations is to provide for her needs and livelihood. These obligations are derived from an ancient law, when women didn’t have a career and a way to support herself. This same ancient law is relevant nowadays due to the fact that the law regarding divorce is derived from the religious law (when it comes to Jews).

The religious Jewish law states that, even if a husband and wife are separated, the husband is still obliged to provide for her needs, according to the standard of life she is accustomed to. These needs are not just food but include housing, medical expenses etc.

When does this right end?

A wife is entitled to alimony until the ending of the marriage, i.e. the wife has been given her “Gett” (divorce) by the husband. As long as the couple are not divorced, even if they are living separately for a long period of time, the wife is entitled to her alimony – except for exceptional cases which will be presented later in this article.

On the other hand, if the husband and wife have agreed differently, (for example: in the framework of a divorce agreement, or prenuptial agreement, signed before the marriage), then the wife might get her alimony for a longer time.

When can the wife be denied her alimony?

Every rule has irregulars, this is true when it comes to wife alimony too. The Jewish law states that a wife is entitled to alimony also states the irregularities where she might lose this right. Below are some of the cases:

When the wife waves her right to alimony: this is self-explicatory – the wife can decide she doesn’t want the alimony, it could be done via a written agreement with the husband or a prenuptial signed before the marriage.

When the wife was unfaithful to her husband: unfaithfulness, according to the Jewish law, is a sever act and is referred to in the Jewish law as a woman who “Zanta” – committed adultery.  She will not be entitled to her “Ketuba” and her children, who were born to her from another man, are referred to as “Mamzerim” – bastards, who are not accepted in the Jewish community and cannot marry. A woman who committed adultery will not be entitled to alimony.

When a wife refuses “Shlom Bayit” – domestic reconciliation: in cases where it is proved that the wife refuses in any way to have domestic reconciliation, she is not entitled to her alimony. This being said, it is not that simple. One must prove that the wife’s behavior is lacing good will. On the other hand, if the wife proves that she doesn’t want the domestic reconciliation due to incapacity to continue living with her husband or due to incompatibility, the court might rule in her favor.

When a wife is guilty of causing the marriage to end: when it is proved that the divorce was caused by improper behavior of the wife (such as disrespectful and unworthy behavior to the husband), she could lose her alimony. Let it be said that I’m not referring to cases where there is incompatibility in the couple’s relationship but cases where the wife’s improper behavior caused the ending of the marriage. For example, if, due to a small insignificant fight, the wife has, decided to divorce, it could be seen as improper behavior that could bring to denning her the right to get alimony. Please note that each case is dealt with according to its circumstances and individually.

Where can one file for wife alimony?

When it comes to alimony, there are two authorities: the Rabbinic court and the family court. Each case is individually examined. There are times where it is best to file the claim to the family court and others were it is best to file the claim to the Rabbinic court. To make a correct decision, it is best to consult with a lawyerexperienced in family law.

To sum:

According to the Jewish law a woman is entitled to alimony which will enable her to live in the lifestyle she was accustomed to during the marriage. The wife does have the right to wave her right to alimony. There are cases where the wife’s behavior could cause her losing this right. I suggest you get advice from a lawyer who is knowledgeable in family law, especially divorce and alimony.