The painful procedure of divorce is accompanied also by a “race” for legal authorities or tribunals who will judge in the conflict between the spouses. This “race” in legal terms is the “race for supremacy in law.”

My experience is that there is a commonly held belief that women turn to the Family Court for divorce litigation while men tend to prefer the Rabbinical Court. I am of the opinion that this belief is commonplace and often in error. To clarify: in matters of divorce there are at least three main issues:

  • Child custody – which of the parents will be custodian?
  • Property – how will the joint property be handled and divided?
  • Child maintenance and the woman – the amount that the man will pay for the maintenance of his children after the separation and to his wife before the separation.

I could write at length about the fine differences between the different legal systems and initiate a discussion about them, but that would be beyond the scope of this article.

It’s important to emphasize, however, that the main difference between the Rabbinical Court and the regular Family Court is in the way they relate to the people and the case set in front of them.

In the regular Family Court the relationship is purely legalistic and the court isn’t inclined to deviate from the fixed defined law and the legislation. The Rabbinical Court, on the other hand, frequently relates to other factors, including the characters of the spouse responsible for the breakup of the family connection and the one who left the family nest, etc.

This attitude of the different legal instances can either be very useful or very damaging to the case of the petitioning spouse. In addition, while the regular family court deliberates on all the issues involved in a manner separate from the divorce itself, the Rabbinical Court will consider all the issue in the conflict together with the divorce as one whole entity.

In view of these different approaches, I do not automatically advise a woman to turn to the regular Family Court and to the man to the Rabbinical Court because this consideration changes very often according to the character of the couple. Sometimes it is necessary to exercise discretion and to choose judgment in certain matters in the Rabbinical Court and other matters in the Family Court. This matter requires specific attention to the person and the situation in hand.

I should add that the information provided here is only a small part of a complex issue, and is not as simple as people think. Good and experienced legal advice is required.

Boaz. E. Gork, Adv.

Divorce Procedures

Upon the separation of a married couple, many continue in the direction of divorce. These often unfortunate circumstances call for a divorce procedure that can be handled in a number of ways. While the divorce laws vary from state to state and country to country, there are many elements of the divorce procedure that are common to most.

In the United States, in order to begin the divorce procedure, an “Original Petition for Divorce” or “Letter of Complaint” must be filed with the local court, which identifies the parties of the divorce, their children, if any, the reason for divorce, among other things.

Until the divorce is finalized, the parties involved must abide by Temporary Divorce Orders, which are actions that must be taken immediately after filing. These actions include spousal support, child support, custody, etc. Onward in the divorce procedure is a process of gathering relevant information about either party of the divorce. This can be through interrogation, disclosures, an admission of fact, requests for production or depositions. This process is all conducted through mediation, in an effort to come to a settlement.

If the Parties Don’t Reach a Settlement During Mediation

If mediation does not work, then the parties will need to appear at a divorce court trial, where each party presents his or her side and the judge determines the final outcome of the divorce settlement.

The final element of the divorce procedure prior to settling occurs in the event that one spouse is not happy with the court ruling. In this case he or she may file for an appeal, and if granted, the matter returns to the court. Whatever manner a couple chooses to conduct their divorce procedure, once they are divorced, it means their marriage has come to an end and the couple’s responsibilities or legal duties of the marriage have been terminated.