Child Relocation

Below are readers' questions about 'Child Relocation', which we have chosen to answer. More detailed information on 'Child Relocation' can be found on our main website, Family Law in Israel.

Yes! For example, Jerusalem Family Court did so in January 2018, when it gave a decision on a temporary move of a teenager from her mother’s custody in Israel, to her father’s custody in New Zealand, following the recommendations of a neutral court-appointed expert and a preliminary hearing afterwards, at which understandings were reached between the parties. Later on, following a supplementary report by the same expert ( clinical psychologist), which confirmed the success of the trial move, and the filing of written summations, the court passed judgment in February 2019, accepting the father’s pleas for custody and relocation, and setting out contact arrangements. The father was represented by our law offices.

Yes ! If a neutral professional appointed by the Israel family court, where the mother should apply to relocate, recommends that relocation is in the child’s best interests, and the judge accepts the recommendations, after considering all the relevant factors, and after the proceedings run their course, including the evidence and summation stage . For example in November 2015, Tel Aviv Family Court awarded a mother, who had divorced in Israel, remarried and settled in the States, permission to take her 7 year old son, from her first marriage, whom she had left in Israel, with his father, to join her and her new family, based on the recommendations of the court appointed expert, in a complex case and after full psychological assessments were carried out.

A custody order relates to custody within Israel and does not deal with relocation outside of Israeli borders. To relocate overseas with a child in her custody, a mother needs either the father's consent, or permisison from the family court, if he refuses.

You can bring legal action to obtain permission from the family court, which can overrule the father's objection, and allow relocation, if it considers it to be in the child's good, and the best option in the circumstances.

This depends upon the wording of your agreement. If, for example, the agreement dealing with you getting custody also specifically deals with permisssion for the child to live abroad, but also includes the option of returning to Israel, then it would appear that your return with the minor would not amount to child abduction. If, however, the agreement does not deal with this option, then a one-sided return to Israel with her, on your part, without the father's consent, is likely to amount to child abduction, and put you at the risk of having to defend such proceedings.

No! An Israeli custody order gives the custodial parent the right to determine where the children shall live within Israel. It does not give the custodial parent the right to relocate abroad with the children, or to travel abroad with them on holiday, without the other parent's consent, or court permission, in its absence. If you wish to relocate with your children to the U.K. legally, and not face child abduction proceedings, you must either gain your husband's consent, preferably via a court-authorised agreement, or file to the court for permission to relocate with them - and win.

Yes-depending on the circumstances ! A court judgment permitting relocation of minors is not an open cheque, and can be cancelled, if the mother chooses not to relocate with the children after all, stated Tel Aviv Family Court in November 2018. The court accepted the father's plea to cancel a relocation order granted nearly 3 years previously, because of changed circumstances. An updated expert opinion was ordered from a clinical psychologist to see if the move was still in the children’ best interests, after the mother had decided not to leave Israel with the children and had taken no steps to actualize permission granted to relocate to New Zealand to start the 2016 school year there. The report stressed that the children, currently aged 10 and 8.5, were now of sufficient age and maturity to express their views, and have them taken into consideration. They wished to remain in Israel, had put down roots, now had a younger brother in Israel (through their father) and had become accustomed to being in joint custody to the extent that relocation was no longer in their good.

Yes – though this is unusual. In November 2015, in a relocation case, with a particularly complex history, Tel Aviv family court granted permission for a divorced mother to relocate to the USA, awarding her temporary custody only, but held that a supplementary judgment would be given a year later, after a report had been received from the relevant welfare authorities in the States, regarding the child’s absorption there.

Yes! You can have a binding agreement drawn up, which can be made valid both in your home country and Israel, whereby it is clear that the move to Israel is on a trial/temporary basis, that you have complete freedom of movement in and out of Israel with your child, and that he agrees unconditionally, that should you be unhappy in Israel, or the relationship sours, you shall have sole custody of your mutual child, and be able to relocate back to Europe, at your entire discretion, with the child, while his contact/visitation rights as a non-custodial parent shall also be guaranteed. If your boyfriend is not willing to co-operate, you would be advised not to relocate to Israel with your child.

If he and his parents cannot resolve the issue between them, and come to a court authorised agreement on this, then he can file an independent plea for custody and relocation at the family court in Israel. The court will decide whether relocation would be in his interests/welfare. As a teenager, his views should bear considerable weight, presuming he is found to be genuine in his wishes, and not been subject to brainwashing.

Very possibly, if the children become 'habitually resident' in Israel, and her husband/their father objects. If she returned overseas with the children without his consent, she could face child abduction proceedings. To relocate abroad with them again legally, she would either have to negotiate with him and make a court-authorised agreement dealing with the issue and ensuring his visitation rights or, if he was adamant in his objections, she would have to apply to court in Israel, for custody of the children and permission to relocate back abroad with them. 

Yes, subject to a positive recommendation from a court appointed expert (clinical psychologist) who would most probably be appointed to make a report and recommendations, should you bring legal action at the family court in Israel. The court can also give a decision allowing trial/temporary relocation, which includes a mechanism for follow-up before a final judgment is made.
In proceedings initiated in 2017, in which our law office represented a non-Jewish father in Australasia, the Israeli family court authorized temporary relocation of a teenager, into the father’s temporary custody overseas, by consent, in January 2018, despite initial strong objections from the mother, who observes an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. The breakthrough came after a court appointed expert filed a report overwhelmingly recommending a trial move. He was satisfied that there was no parental incitement and that the move expressed the minor’s true wishes, which he said, should be the determining factor, given the minor’s chronological age and emotional maturity.

Either via dispute resolution (mediation) and/or negotiation leading to a formal settlement or by adversarial court proceedings resulting in a judicial ruling, if the mother initiates proceedings for relocation of the minor, at the family court. If the mother does not have a sole custody order already, she can file two proceedings, simultaneously,one for custody, and one for relocation, at the family court.

If the father objects, formally, in his defence pleadings, then the case will move to the proof stage, and most probably the court will appoint professionals to make reports and recommendations (court welfare officer, and more importantly, a clinical pyschologist, regarding issues of custody, visitation and relocation) . After several hearings, including preliminary and proof stage hearings, and a summation stage, the court will give its ruling, with the child's welfare/best interests, being the paramount factor, overriding the parents' opposing interests.

Usually, the family court will refer the parties to its own assistance unit at the outset, to see if there is any chance for a mediated settlement, with the details to be negotiated and drafted by the parties' lawyers, which can receive court authorization. If this does not succeed, adversarial proceedings will continue at the Israeli family court, which will give a judgment, in the first level proceedings. There is an automatic right of appeal against a family court's ruling at the first level, to the district court.

No! Your wife is not entitled to unilaterally change the place of residence of your mutual children from the U.S.A. to Israel, according to an international convention which binds both countries and sets down ground rules to prevent and deal with child abduction. Your wife is not entitled to register your children in school in Israel by herself - by law, the consent of both parents with parental rights is needed.

If your wife remains in Israel with your mutual children without your consent then you would be entitled to bring action in Israel for their return under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction on the basis of passive child abduction ( their wrongful retention in Israel). You must be careful, however, not to "acquiesce" (consent afterwards) as this is a defence to Hague Convention child abduction proceedings, if proved in the particular circumstances.

Even if you divorced in the States, and your wife gained sole physical custody of your children, she would not be entitled to relocate them to Israel unless you consented beforehand or the court granted her permission, after she filed and it carried out an investigation and decided that it was in their best interestss.

Not necessarily ! An agreement between parents does not bind the children,who are not parties to it. It may be possible for an independent relocation plea to be filed by the children themselves (via their mother, their natural guardian). Furthermore, decisions relating to minors are never final, in Israeli law, as circumstances and needs change. A court faced with a relocation plea has to decide if the move is in the children's welfare/interests i.e. is the least detrimental alternative.

Not without the consent of your child's father - otherwise you risk facing child abduction proceedings! Full custody means full physical custody in Israel only . Your child's father retains equal parental decision making powers with you. Changing your child's place of residence outside of Israel cannot be made unilaterally by you. If the child's father does not agree you need to apply to court for permission. You can only relocate legally with your child if you have permission from the father,or the court.

Definitely! Both of you have an interest in doing so. If you travel from Israel to the U.K. without your husband’s express written consent to remain there for a prolonged period, with the children then, theoretically, he could change his mind, and later on bring Hague Convention proceedings against you for their return to Israel, claiming that you are wrongfully retaining them in the U.K, in a form of passive child abduction. On the other hand, the contact arrangements you agree upon are not enforceable, unless they are given legal validity, in Israel and in the U.K. Hence, you have a mutual interest in formalizing this arrangement, to protect your respective interests, and also those of the children, to relocate, even temporarily to the U.K. in a legal way, with you, and to retain a relationship with their father.A balanced agreement, in both English and Hebrew, should be professionally drafted to cover the relevant issues. The agreement should be authorized by the family court in Israel, and, preferably a “Mirror Order” recognizing it and making it enforceable in the U.K., should be obtained before your departure with the children.

She should try and get the father's consent to the children's relocation overseas. If he consents,an agreement should be drawn up, for authorization by court. However, if the father does not consent, then a carefully reasoned plea should be filed in court, in Israel,requesting the children's relocation overseas. She should avoid taking the children overseas,without the father's consent, or court permission, because a unilateral act of relocation is likely to be considered an act of child abduction.

There are a range of options, suitable to different situations, ranging from stating your lack of consent/objection in writing to her/her lawyer, to applying for a court order to prevent their departure from Israel, assuming she has not opened a relocation file at the family court. If she has, then you can file your objection in your defence, and argue that relocation would not be in the children's welfare/interests and would be damaging to their emotional development.

Yes! For example, you can consent to future visits, subject to the children's genuine wishes, and a positive recommendation by an appropriate professional, such as a clinical pyschologist for children, overseas, who will give his/her professional opinion on what is in the minors' best interests, if an attempt at mediation fails. Our office drafts child arrangement agreements, for court authorization, that cover issues of child custody, decision-making, visitation and financial support. 

If you apply to the family Court to relocate from Israel to Holland, with your baby son, your chances of success are high, given the background described, even if your husband objects. The deciding factor is ‘the good of the child’/ the 'child’s best interests', which is interpreted as the ‘least detrimental alternative’, or the best option, in the circumstances. The sooner you file, and the younger the child, the greater are your chances of success.You can file for custody and relocation simultaneously and request that a clinical psychologist be appointed to make a report and recommendations on custody, relocation and visitation rights. This assessment includes personality testing of the parents and their parental skills. The court will also appoint a court welfare officer, a social worker from the municipality, to make a report.

Yes! If you move to Israel with your wife and children, on the basis of an oral agreement only, you are putting yourself and them at risk of losing or harming your parent-child relationship, should your marriage break down in Israel. Your wife could be engineering a move,and plan to "dump" you or demand a divorce or separation after the children have settled to life in Israel, forcing you to return to the States, having no legal status in Israel, as the separated spouse.

Basically, you should only agree to a trial relocation to Israel if your wife is willing to sign a carefully worded agreement, drafted by a specialist lawyer, to protect your interests. If your wife refuses to sign such an agreement, or refuses to have it authorised in court, in the States and in Israel before the intended move, then you would be uwise to agree.  

If the marriage breaks down and you do not live in the same country as your wife and chidlren, you could end up substituting a close father-child relationship into one of a distant relative.

Yes, it would be a legitimate reason, but the court would still have to be shown that relocation would be in the children's welfare /interest as this is the paramount factor in its decision making process.

The mother has a right to a personal life and her wish to remarry should be respected, but she should also show that her prospective husband cannot live in Israel e.g. for business/professional or other reasons.

Yes, but only as a rare exception . The family court will not normally stray from the court appointed expert’s recommendations or order a supplementary report unless there are “heavy-weight” reasons justifying this, like for example, in February 2016, when Tel Aviv District Court ordered a supplementary expert as part of appeal proceedings in a child relocation case. There, It was held that a court appointed expert must check out all the possibilities thoroughly, including the implications for the minors of the parent wishing to relocate actually relocating alone, and leaving them with the other parent, even if he/she expressly declares that he/she will not do so. This had not been done. The decision to allow relocation, if it is found to be in the children’s best interests, is usually a difficult choice, and in effect is equivalent to choosing the ‘least detrimental alternative’, in practice. Full consideration must be given of the quality and nature of the children’s relationship with each parent, and a comparison of likely damage resulting from separation from each parent. 

Yes, as happened in two Israeli custody and relocation cases where our office successfully represented two mothers whose returned to Israel with their children, following Hague convention proceedings filed against them overseas by the fathers. Both mothers, one British and one American,won custody and permission to relocate. (see Family File 44262/02- Tel Aviv Family Court -relocation of minor to the U.K. and Family File 16591/04- Krayot Family Court -relocation of minors to the U.S.A).The findings and recommendations of the expert (clinical psychologist) which the family court will appoint as part of contested proceedings, will play an important role in the outcome of the case. Usually, courts adopt the recommendations of the expert regarding custody, visitation and relocation, in terms of what is in the minor/s best interests, although they are not bound to do so.A positive recommendation by the expert that relocation would be consistent with the child’s best interests/good clearly increases the mother’s chances of success, and her chances of offsetting the prejudice / ‘stigma’ associated with child abduction.

A favourable report from the court-appointed clinical pyschologist. The Supreme Court has stated many times in the context of relocation cases that the report and recommendations of the court -appointed expert at the level of a clinical psychologist is a key tool at the court’s disposal and forms a “substantial part” of the evidence in relocation cases, especially the testing of each parent's parental ability and suitability as custodian. It did so expressly in Leave of Civil Appeal 10060/07. Such independent evidence is of far greater significance than any evidence brought by a parent,though a parent wishing to relocate must bring evidence to support his/her relocation plan regarding housing and schooling for the minors etc, employment opportunities and means of family support etc

Not if the court finds out your real motive is just to cut the children's father off from them. Permission to relocate minor children abroad is granted when the parent applying to relocate has reasonable and legitimate reasons and the move would be in the minors' good. A custodial parent hoping to relocate must also persuade the court that he/she respects the children's right to have a meaningful and on-going relationship with the other parent and his right to the same with them. A relocation plan must include suggestions for securing that on-going relationship.

In theory yes, but not necessarily. Remarriage to a foreigner can act positively in this connection,but may not. As each relocation case before an Israeli family court is decided on its particular merits, this factor cannot be viewed in isolation. It is part of a wider picture, with the “child’s welfare” or “good” being the ultimate criteria determining whether the Israeli court will grant relocation despite opposition, or not. The mother’s right to resume her life, and build a new family, is not viewed in isolation, but is balanced against the right of the child’s biological father to have an ongoing relationship with his child, the Supreme Court has held.

Yes, it is possible, but each case is decided on according to its particular circumstances, and much will depend on the recommendations of a court appointed expert (clinical pyschologist) as to whether relocation would be in the children’s best interests or not. If the conclusions and recommendations of the report are clear and state that relocation is likely to be detrimental to them, while remaining in Israel will be beneficial to them,then the family court is likely to adopt the expert’s recommendations, and the father will succeed in keeping the children in Israel.

This is what happened in September 2015 when Tel Aviv family court rejected an application from a mother of Irish origin, to relocate with two children, aged 4 and 8, to Ireland, from where she returned with them in 2013, following Hague convention child abduction proceedings brought against her by the father. In this case, the court stated that the children were suffering from trauma and a fear of abandonment,and that a further separation from their father would be extremely harmful to them. They were not capable of withstanding another upheaval,with all that it entailed, the expert said, while the mother was unable to put up the necessary financial guarantees to safeguard visitation, if they were permitted to relocate.

In different circumstances, where the expert appointed by court is of the opinion that relocation is in the children’s best interests, even if the mother abducted the minors prior in the past, then the father may not be able to stop the family court permitting relocation,though he can appeal an unfavourable ruling.

Assuming that your daughter has sole custody and wishes to relocate to the States with the children, and her ‘ex’ objects, she would need to file a relocation plea at the family court for permission to do so. The court will appoint suitable professionals to make reports and recommendations on the issue of relocation, and if the children are old enough and mature enough to have their own opinions, these will be taken into account. If, during the legal proceedings, your daughter manages to persuade the court that relocation would be in their good, balancing all the conflicting rights and interests of the family members, and is the ‘least detrimental alternative’, then it will grant her permission. Clearly, the negative details you relate about her ‘ex’ are in her favour. Your daughter should seek legal advice from a family law specialist experienced in relocation cases. 
A professionally drafted plea and correct handling of the case will increases her chances of success. Sometimes the non-custodial parent who objects to relocation backs down during proceedings, after the plea is filed, or if the reports are strongly in the other side’s favour. This can make it possible to reach a negotiated settlement, that allows for permanent relocation of the minors, but also deals with the issue of visitation rights. This can shorten the process, saving both time and money.

The family court. It has primary jurisdiction over the issue, and only where custody proceedings have previously taken place in a religious court, and in extremely exceptional circumstances, will the latter have jurisdiction over relocation.

Yes, as each case is decided on its merits. If the report of an independent expert, appointed by the family court, in proceedings to be initiated there by the mother, to permit relocation of the minor, despite the father’s opposition, concludes that the move would be contrary to the child’s best interests, then there is a chance of stopping the minor relocating . Such was the case in February 2015, in a complex and controversial ruling, where Beersheva Family Court rejected a mother’s plea to relocate overseas with her 8 year old son, to Europe, to join her husband from her second marriage, who was taking up a lucrative career posting and who was unable to find suitable employment in Israel. It stressed that it could not digress from the report, which was logical and persuasive, and the expert’s testimony withstood cross- examination at the proof stage. Neither parent was found to have significantly better parental skills than the other, upon testing, and mother had failed to provide a comprehensive relocation plan for the child, the court held.

Firstly, if you object to your wife’s relocation plans, then she can only relocate to France legally with your mutual children, if she first gains custody and pripermission to relocate from an Israeli court. If she takes the law into her own hands, and just leaves with the children, you can bring civil child abduction proceedings for their return under the Hague Convention, which binds both Israel and France.

Secondly, if your wife applies for custody and relocation, at an Israeli family court, you can object to relocation, as part of your defence, even if you do not object to custody (though you may consider counter-filing for custody, as you say you have flexible working hours).

There are points in your favour : the fact that your wife converted to Judaism, connected her destiny with the Jewish people and immigrated to Israel, especially after the birth of your elder child. However, while the court will look at the competing rights of all involved (each parent, and the children), ultimately it will make its decision on the basis of what it perceives as being in the children’s best interests ( i.e. the least detrimental alternative).

You do not state your children’s age: this could be relevant. If they are very young, and under 6, possible difficulties of adjustment are minimized/deemed irrelevant, and could act in favour of relocation. However if the children are older, of school age, around 10 or so and regarded as mature and not subject to brainwashing from either parent, then their own views, if expressed, could be relevant, as part of the court process, which normally involves the appointment of a neutral professional (child psychologist) to prepare a report and make recommendations, on custody, relocation and visitation. The court is normally guided by such recommendations, though is not bound to accept them.

Your wife’s claim that she will beat you in a court battle over relocation is far too simplistic, though the younger the children, the greater her chances of success. Even then, proceedings in custody and relocation can be protracted, and last several years, with appeals, which can increase the chances of the children’s views becoming a significant factor, and even justifying an updated expert opinion from a child psychologist.

Yes - if you make a professional, well-reasoned and argued application to the family court to allow you to do so, and it grants permission, deciding that it would be in the minor's good, after having received reports from a professional it will appoint to make a report and recommendations on the matter,and after reviewing evidence regarding the alleged dangers raised by the father.
In July 2009 Tel Aviv Family Court (Family File 52121/05) accepted an application from a custodial mother to take her children from her first marriage to Ghana for a year,where her new husband,a diplomat, had been posted. After receiving a positive recommendation from a clinical psychologist it had appointed to report on the matter,and after weighing up evidence submitted by both sides from academic experts regarding tropical diseases and the political/security situation, the court held that the risk of possible emotional damage to the minors by refusing the application, outweighed any possible physical or health dangers,which had been exaggerated by the father,given the precautionary measures /arrangements that were at their disposal.

Yes ! If their father objects, you will have to apply to the family court in Israel for custody of your mutual children, and permission to relocate back to the U.S. with them. The court will make a decision, based on the child's welfare/interests, after getting the opinion and recommendation of professionals it appoints. The mother of young children, who is not a native-Israeli, and whose support system is based abroad, has a good chance of succeeding.