Opening a Divorce File
In the event that you decide to turn to a rabbinical court, in order to file a petition for divorce against your spouse, in order to file a joint undisputed petition for divorce, or in order to have the divorce agreement that was drawn up in family court approved, your next step will be registering for divorce in the rabbinical court registrar.
What takes place there?
In order to open a divorce file, you must go to the local rabbinical court registrar (there is no need for an advance appointment).
If your divorce is consensual, you will file a joint petition for divorce by filling out a form with each of your personal details, including the date and place of your marriage and any previous divorces, information about joint children, and reasons for your request. If you are applying for a fee exemption, you will also need to fill out a form requesting one. If your divorce is non-consensual, you will need to file a petition for divorce against your spouse by completing a form called ‘Suing for divorce and what is entailed.’ This form asks for your personal details and those of your spouse, your lawyers, and your rabbinical advocates, as well as the details of your request. You will need to include information regarding your current marriage and the circumstances of your separation, prior marriages and divorces, joint children, family counseling and mediation steps, and any prior claims or police complaints that were filed. You will also be asked for a cause that justifies your divorce petition, and for a clarification of the nature of the support and assistance that you desire from bet din.
If you would like to include other claims in your divorce petition (as opposed to dealing with them in family court), e.g. property division, sustenance, and custody, you will need to indicate the accompanying claims in a detailed and thorough manner, and to show that the bundling of claims is being done in good faith, and not just to prevent your spouse from taking you to civil courts. For a property claim you must specify your assets (real estate, vehicles, savings, credit, debt, and portable goods) and how you wish to divide the property; for a housing and sustenance claim you must specify and document your income and your spouses income in the half-year preceding the petition; your necessary monthly expenses and the sum you are claiming; for claims concerning minor children you must specify their personal details, their monthly expenses, your wishes and rationale concerning custody and visitation, and you must also provide information regarding their present education and welfare reports. Bundling claims is a difficult and weighty legal matter that has many rules. It is therefore advisable to consult a legal professional to execute the procedure. You also must completely fill out the ‘detail presentation form’ and attach everything it requires, including bank statements, salary stubs, etc. Important! Without including all required documents it is quite possible that jurisdiction with not be granted to the rabbinical court.
After filling out the forms, presenting your petition, and handing over documents, the rabbinical court registrar will usually open a divorce case-file for you, and within a few weeks you will be summoned to the first divorce hearing before the rabbinical court. The handling of the case and its placement to rabbinical judge panels is done alphabetically according to the name of the person who opened the case-file. Naturally, the particular panel of judges chosen can significantly affect the course of the proceedings.
What to bring?
If you are filing a joint petition for divorce, you will need the following documents:
• Both of your Teudot Zehut (Identity cards) with current addendums, as well as photocopies of each.
• Two passport photos for each of you.
• If you were married in a rabbinical court – your ketubah and marriage certificate;
• If you were married in a civil service – a civil marriage certificate;
• A divorce agreement signed by both of you (One copy will suffice if your agreement was already made binding by a ruling of the family court; otherwise 4 copies);
• A fee of 1,062 NIS (if your agreement was not yet certified) or 336 NIS (if your agreement was already certified by the family court) in cash or by credit card (only lawyers and rabbinical advocates accept checks).
If you are suing your partner for divorce, you will need the following documents:
• Your teudat zehut (Identity card) along with a current addendum, and a photocopy of it;
• Two copies of your written claim wit
your personal details and signature; your spouse’s personal details, and those of your joint children, as well as the nature of your petition, and the court assistance that is desired (including the amount being asked for ‘sustenance, or an estimation of it);
• Any documents relevant for your petition, including financial documents, photocopies of police complaints filed against one of you, depositions from various sources, documents, which establish the reasons for the conflict, and any document or photograph that provides support for your petition;
• A fee of 1,157 NIS, in cash or by credit card (Checks are accepted only by way of a lawyer or rabbinical advocate);
• Your ketubah, marriage certificate (rabbinic or civil), passport photos, and additional fee – generally these items are only required at a later stage of the divorce process.