The Battle for Custody in Israel

A new bill seeks to replace an old law (see below) that automatically grants custody of children 6 and under to mothers. The new law would allow the courts to decide who would be in charge of the child based on the good of the child and with an attempt to maximize joint custody. MK Yoav Kish sponsored the law with support from Minister for Social Equality MK Gila Gamliel. Fun fact, Yoav Kish’s father was the highest ranking Jew to ever serve in the British army.

Just over a year ago, the coalition lost a vote on a similar law due to poor attendance from their MKs (good work paid professionals!) and some rebellious coalition members who were against the change. A number of female MKs from both the coalition and opposition rejoiced in the plenum while a number of male MKs looked on sullenly as if they had just lost color war. It was truly a wonderful instance of high school meets the Knesset.

Proponents of changing the current law say that it is anachronistic, recalling a time when expecting a man to take care of a child was equivalent to expecting members of Knesset to show up to work. According to proponents, the law is unfair to children by not taking their desires or their relationship with their parents into account along with possibly splitting kids up from their siblings. It also limits the ability of the courts to make decisions specific to the family.

Opponents of changing the law say that without a clear preference for one parent, children and mothers will be hurt within the court system and that children will be turned into bargaining chips. As a counterpoint, MK Shuli Moalem Rephaeli proposed an alternate law to change the year of automatic custody from 6 to 4.

Other countries deal with this serious issue in different ways. In Australia, the courts grant joint custody unless there is a reason to do otherwise. Children also receive a lifetime supply of beer. In Britain, courts are allowed to favor mothers in the granting of custody, but that is only one in a number of considerations, which include the parents’ stances on Brexit. In Canada, they consider who the primary caretaker of the child currently is. I’d make a joke here, but hey, the kid is in Canada, hasn’t he suffered enough? Zing!


What do you think?


25th section of the Legal Capacity and Guardianship Law, 1962.

לא באו ההורים לידי הסכם כאמור בסעיף 24, או שבאו לידי הסכם אך ההסכם לא בוצע, רשאי בית המשפט לקבוע את הענינים האמורים בסעיף 24 כפי שייראה לו לטובת הקטין, ובלבד שילדים עד גיל 6 יהיו אצל אמם אם אין סיבות מיוחדות להורות אחרת.


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