Rabbinical Courts

Rabbinical Courts in Israel are governed by secular civil law (as opposed to religious law) in respect of matters of family property (see “the rule of sharing” and “the Property Relations Between Spouses Law”). In reality, the Rabbinical Court is likely not to come to the same result arrived at by the Family Court in respect of the distribution of property in view of the fact that the Rabbinical Court often weighs considerations that are not weighed by the Civil Court (originating from religious law). Further, the manner of interpreting and applying the laws and rules at the Rabbinical Court is likely to be different from the manner in which it is done at the Civil Court. Also, the procedures at the Rabbinical Court, which are different from the procedures at the Civil Court, are likely to lead to a different outcome. This is one of the reasons that the “jurisdiction race” between the Rabbinical Courts and the Family Courts still significantly occupies the legal system in Israel.

Thus, for instance, in a judgment entered by the Great Rabbinical Court (File No. 1-21-058711219), on the basis of section 8 of the Property Relations Between Spouses Law, 1973 (which allows it to be determined that under special circumstances, the balancing of the value of the assets will not be half and half, but a different ratio – see “Property Relations Between Spouses Law”) it was held that a woman that was unfaithful loses her right to balancing of resources between the spouses, since a betrayal constitutes special circumstances as required under the aforesaid section of the law.Obviously, such an unjust outcome could not have been reached under the same circumstances, had the jurisdiction rested with the Family Court.

Also in other matters (such as:alimony, custody and visitation rights) the Rabbinical Court sometimes weighs different considerations than those of the Family Court. Suffice it to state that the Rabbinical Court would normally adhere to visitation rights with no desecration of Shabbat and holidays – which consideration does not exist at all in the Family Court.