The Jurisdiction Race

The “jurisdiction race”, the process by which each party seeks to file their claim with the court most beneficial to them (Family or Rabbinical Court) before the other party does so, is the result of the existence of parallel jurisdictions – the Family Court and the Rabbinical Court – for hearing matters related to divorce, as stated below.

At the law offices of Nava Peres, we are keenly aware of the “jurisdiction race” and make every effort to ensure that cases will fall under the jurisdiction of the court that appears to be most advantageous to our clients.

The jurisdiction on matters linked to the couple’s divorce, namely property, alimony, child custody and education rests with the Family Court.The Rabbinical Court has parallel jurisdiction on the above issues in divorce claims between Jews. The issue of child custody, by nature, is linked to a divorce claim; however, with regard to the other issues, express linking is required for the court to acquire exclusive jurisdiction.
Thus, in order to avoid abuse of the “linking” arrangement by either party, it is required that the divorce claim be sincere, that the linking be sincere and that it be done lawfully.It is noteworthy that the Rabbinical Court is authorized to adjudicate on a matter linked to the divorce only where a divorce judgment has been entered. Where the divorce claim has been denied, any claim linked thereto is thereby denied as well.
It should be stated, that with regard to a wife’s alimony, the wife is afforded the option to litigate in the Family or Rabbinical Court, without having to file a divorce claim.
** The jurisdiction to hear matters of child support rests with the Rabbinical Court only where both parents agree thereto, and, accordingly, this matter is not part of the jurisdiction race.

Under law, where one of the two bodies – the Rabbinical or Family Court – has acquired jurisdiction to hear the matter before it, the other body will not hear the same matter even where a parallel jurisdiction exists.
Hence, where a claim concerning one of the two matters above has been lawfully filed with the Family Court, a late linking of that matter with the divorce claim being filed with the Rabbinical Court would be to no avail, since the Family Court has theretofore acquired jurisdiction on that matter.
And vice versa. Where one or all the matters have been duly linked to the divorce claim filed with the Rabbinical Court and the conditions with respect to the linking thereof have been satisfied, a late claim filed with the Family Court, would be to no avail.

For this reason, a situation of a “jurisdiction race” has developed in Israel, to the effect that each of the parties seek to file a claim with the most convenient judicial body for them for various reasons before the other does so.This is why it is critical to immediately contact a lawyer in view of the legal situation in Israel in the event of a dispute between the parties (see: “when do I contact a lawyer?”).

It should be emphasized, that in situations where a divorce claim has already been filed with the Rabbinical Court and one or all the above matters have been linked to it, claims concerning the same matter can still be filed with the Family Court while the issue of the jurisdiction is being decided by means of preliminary proceeding as to the satisfaction of the linking conditions stated above.
Here, too, the question of which judicial body decided first on its jurisdiction is of significance and the manner of making the decision on the jurisdiction is also significant.However, the linking of any of the above matters to a divorce claim which is subsequent to the claim filed with the Family Court, would be disqualified unconditionally and the matter will be heard at the Family Court.