Children-Contact

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

Yes - and they can be successful if the relationship is held to be in the children's good, even if their mother objects . Under Israeli law grandparents can bring adversarial action to see their grandchildren, if a preliminary dispute resolution process fails . Usually a social worker is appointed to make a report and recommendations on whether meetings and contact with the minors is in the grandchildren's best innterests.

Our law practice successfully represented British grandparents in their legal battle to re-establish meetings with their teenage grandson which his mother, their former daughter-in-law, with whom he lived, had stopped. The court appointed a social worker to make a report and recommendations. and heard the teenager's views as well as meeting with the parties,and hearing their claims . At a hearing at Jerusalem Family Court in April 2018 the parties agreed to accept the report 's recommendations, to re-establish the visits in Israel, and after authorizing their consent, it also ruled that from 2019, the grandson could visit the grandparents in England, during the Summer, instead of Israel, bringing forward the date recommended for this, by the social worker, after oral pleadings.

No! Even if you left Israel during a marital crisis, and do not return, you have a right to ongoing contact and relationship with your children - as they,too, have a corresponding right to be in contact with you - and you can apply to the family court in Israel for contact (virtual communication via Skype, Facetime, phone etc) and for visitation, in Israel, or the States.

If your wife is sincere and co-operative, it may be possible to draft an agreement between you which not only covers the relocation of the minors back to your wife's home country, in her custody, there, but also deals with visitation arrangements in both countries, and ongoing, even daily contact, by virtual means (Skype, telephone etc) between yourself and your mutual children .

Such an agreement should be authorized in court in Israel and also recognized in your wife's home country so that it is fully valid and enforceable, in both legal jurisdictions, should your rights not be respected. Sometimes it is also appropriate to condition the relocation of the minors upon the provision of a financial guarantee by the relocating parent and/or to include sanctions or penalties for breach of the relocating parent's obligation to respect the left-behind parent's /children's rights vis a vis visitation. Our legal practice deals with the negotiation and drafting of such agreements, in English and Hebrew, ready for authorization by court in Israel, and overseas.

Furthermore, it is possible that your wife's "home country" is one of c-90 countries bound by the 1981 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction, which covers breaches of visitation rights, as well as child abduction, though the best protection is a tailor-made agreement which is recognized in both jursidictions, and which includes a financial guarantee, to cover legal and other costs, plus additional built-in penalties, where there is a substantial risk of non-compliance.

Yes! In the relevant Israeli legislation, there is specific provision whereby the parents of a deceased parent can apply for contact with their grandchildren. The application is automatically dealt with as a dispute resolution process at the court's assistance unit, as a first port of call, but the application of course, would need to be filed, in Hebrew, via legal counsel in Israel, who would represent you.

Israel is bound by international law on children's rights and, is therefore, committed to fostering minors' relationships with their extended family.

You can apply to the family court for contact, under a special dispute resolution procedure. If a mediated solution cannot be reached, with the help of social workers at the court's assistance unit, the court has jurisdiction to order contact, despite the mother's objection, if it considers it to be in the children's best interests.

Bring legal action at the Israeli family court for contact with your child, which would include meetings/visits in both countries and ongoing virtual contact, by phone and /video-link via technology such as Skype, FaceTime,Whatsapp etc.

Your child has a right under international law to have a relationship with both of his/her parents,even if they live in different countries, and knowledge of/access to his/her cultural heritage. Israel recognizes this right, and associated rights of a child regarding his/her identity/heritage which are enshrined in the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention was adopted by Israel and has bound it since 1991.

Yes! You need to apply to the family court, by way of a reasoned application, and ask for a judicial decision to be given ordering the transfer of supervised visitation from one centre to another. In November 2015 Kiryat Shemoneh family court finally accepted a request of a mother, represented by our offices, to transfer supervised visitation from one visitation centre in the Galilee area to another, despite the father’s objection, and after the court initially refused to do so, only agreeing after a request was made for it to review its earlier decision.

Only if she gets court permission prior to the move, based on a finding that it is in the minors' good. If the father objects, the court will decide, based on whether the proposed move would be in the children's good, or not.
In December 2012 Jerusalem District Court rejected a custodial mother's appeal against a family court ruling which had refused her permission to relocate from a village near Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. A court welfare worker's report had stated that the proposed move would be harmful to the children, for whom stability was important, to help them cope with their parents' divorce. The proposed move would entail a change in school and jeopordize mid-week visitation, it held. The mother's interests must take second place to the children's, the court ruled, adopting the report's recommendation to preserve the status quo.

Yes, you can make an urgent application to the family court in Israel, for access, and also make an express application for a referral to the court assistance unit. The unit will deal with emergency situations like this involving a parent who lives abroad. This is possible even though you don’t know Hebrew, if you have legal representation by a bilingual law practice, and a specific request can be made for an English speaking social worker to handle the mediation at the court assistance unit.

Yes! It is possible to reach a negotiated solution whereby you retain your parental rights of decision making (guardianship or legal custody), even though you agree to your children being in their mother’s physical and relocating to Israel, permanently,with her, and where your rights to contact and visitation are expressly safeguarded and set out. You can specifically include mechanisms and even arrangements re frequent, even daily, virtual contact (by phone or Skype etc) and visits, both in the USA and Israel. You can condition your consent upon financial guarantees on the mother’s part to guarantee your contact/visitation rights. Express provision re guarantees and the completion of the arrangements for providing them, before the children leave the States, can be an made an integral part of the agreement.

Such an agreement should be authorized by court in the USA, into a Consent Order, which specifically includes agreement to a "Mirror Order", being obtained in Israel, prior to the children leaving Israel. This means that when the children enter Israel, your contact/visitation rights will already be recognized and enforceable in Israel. The agreement will have maximum legal validity in both countries, so that your rights are enforceable both in the USA or Israel, if the mother attempts to breach them.

Yes! The 1984 Civil Procedure Rules expressly state that in family proceedings concerning a minor, the child himself should be given the opportunity to express his feelings, opinions and wishes on the matter before the court, and that the court itself shall give appropriate weight to them in its decision, in accordance with his age and level of maturity.

There are several options,giving various levels of protection, which should act as a deterrent to a possible non-return.

One option is for the father to sign a notarized document stating that he undertakes to return the child on a specific date, at the end of the visit, or you two can enter into a written agreement whereby it is very clear that the child is only travelling to Israel for the purposes of a visit within specfied dates, and your consent to his departure is conditioned upon this, and he undertakes to return the child to the UK at the end of the visit to Israel. This can be given various levels of legal validity,again, each offering different degrees of legal protection,and even including specifc undertakings and protective mechanisms. Having the agreement authorized by court or incoporated into an order in both Israel and the U.K. prior to the visit will maximize protection.If despite all this, visitation takes place but your 'ex' breaches his undertakings and retains the child in Israel, then you can bring Hague Convention child proceedings for his return from Israel and these steps should serve to strengthen your case.

Make sure a “Mirror Order” of the final American custody judgment is obtained in Israel, in judicial process, before the child sets foot on Israeli soil. This will mean that the US order is fully recognized in Israel as a binding judgment and can be enforced here, if necessary, following any possible attempt to prevent the child’s return to the United States at the end of visitation.

There are further precautions that can be taken, depending on the circumstances. Our law practice handles such cases.

Yes, and if the court dealing with the matter decides that maintaining the relationship is in the grandchildren's best interest then the grandparent will succeed !

In September 2010 Jerusalem Family Court ordered a widowed father to allow his three children to have contact with their maternal grandparents, after he had prevented this. Their mother had committed suicide and the father claimed that contact with the maternal grandparents was harmful to them. They brought legal action against him. The court held that the father's negative behaviour (refusal to co-operate with the welfare services and allow them to prepare a report and recommendations the court had ordered ) was sufficient for it to intervene and order contact between the girls and their maternal grandparents. Parental autonomy is not absolute,it held, and is subject to intervention by courts, who can make sure that a parent actually carries out his/her duties towards his/her minor children in a way that represents their best interest, not just as he/she sees fit. Having a relationship with extended family on both sides was very important, and helped a child form its identity, the court held.

Yes,unless you made special and express arrangements otherwise in your divorce agreement.

Under Israeli law the custodial parent still requires the permission of the non-custodial parent to take the child outside of Israel, even on vacation/a short visit. W'ritten permission is preferable.

If your 'ex' is not co-operative, you should not act unilaterally and go without gaining permission in writing, or without even asking him. All is not lost if he refuses permission - the court can overrule his refusal and grant permission for you to travel overseas with the child.

As you are the surviving and only parent of your minor children,you are automatically your children’s sole natural and legal guardian or in other words, the sole person with parental responsibility, under Israeli law, after their father’s death, and your signature alone is sufficient for all these deeds.

However, it may be wise to request and obtain an express, formal declaration on this from the family court- the state attorney’s reaction will be requested, but there should be no objection. This was the case in proceedings of this nature before Petach Tikva Family Court in August 2015.

Contact between my child and his dad is strictly limited by court to supervised visits only at a communication centre (following findings of a court appointed expert that he is physically and psychologically dangerous to our son). Despite this, his dad keeps trying to make phone contact from various phones. What can I do?

File for a court order (injunction) to prevent the father trying to establish phone contact, or any contact other than that ordered, with a built-in penalty for breaching it. If the father breaches the order, you can file for contempt of court – and the court can fine or even imprison the father if he persists.

Yes! Apply for a reduction in child support payments. If you prove that there is a substantial change in your circumstances, and increase in your financial obligation to your new family, you may be able to get a judicial decision reducing the child maintenance you are obliged to pay to regarding the children from your first marriage, and easing the financial burden on you, which could have a “knock-on” effect regarding your work hours, and enable you to keep up with the parenting /visitation schedule. Within the plea, you can ask for a referral to the court’s assistance unit, to explore the possibility of mediation, regarding both child maintenance and the visitation schedule.Alternatively, or additionally, you can apply to court to alter the parenting time schedule, in order to create a better timetable that will not put you in the position of breaking a judicial decision on parenting time, which your ex-wife could exploit to your detriment.

Try and negotiate a change in visitation arrangements for this visit which can be formed into an agreement. If your son's father is not co-operative, you could apply to the family court in Israel for an order to prevent the child from leaving the country, but if the child has been visiting his father in Turkey regularly before and travels with an Israeli airline, the chances of success are not likely to be high, unless there is another flare up of violence and you have clear evidence of danger to your son.

Possibly, as an exception. Rights of grandparents in general, and rights of bereaved grandparents, to contact with their grandchildren exist as long as the meetings between them and the grandchildren are held to be beneficial to the particular children involved and not harmful to them. The court has wide powers allowing it to intervene, restrict, control and even stop contact to protect minors if they are at risk of emotional or physical harm.

Neutral court -appointed professionals can become involved to assess the situation, and make recommendations and the children themselves can be heard. Sometimes the social workers at the court assistance unit can help parties reach 'understandings', and often a welfare report is ordered from the local social services, offering recommendations. In complex cases, the court can appointed a neutral expert -a clinical pyschologist -for an expert opinion.

Yes! Arrangements regarding contact/visitation/parental time with the non-custodial parent are regarded as being very important to children’s emotional wellbeing, by Israeli family courts. Any process brought by the custodial parent against the non-custodial parent, to enforce those arrangements at the family court, will be dealt with and determined, according to the particular circumstances of the case. However, during recent years, there has been a growing trend for family court judges in Israel to award financial sums against fathers who do not keep to visitation/parenting arrangements set by courts. For example, in dealing with an application by a custodial mother, to enforce visitation arrangements, in February 2015, Jerusalem Family Court held that for every breach of parental time/visitation “missed” by the father, he would pay the mother 50 shekels, per child on ordinary weekdays, and at weekends, eve of festivals, and festivals etc, the amount would be doubled, to 100 shekels, per breach, per child. In its judgment, the court held that the father discriminated in favour of the elder children, and tended to miss parenting time with the younger children, which was detrimental to their emotional wellbeing, and contrary to their best interests.

Yes, even at short notice. Our law practice can draft an agreement to cover not only this specifc visit but which can set up principles for further visitation in Israel, and in Canada, if this has not been dealt with prior to your relocation. The agreement can be signed by you in Israel, and your "ex" in Canada. and receive court authorisation in both countries, if necessary, to give it maximum legal validity.