The most important preparation for divorce involves reaching an agreement with your spouse both with regard to the very decision to divorce and with regard to the various related issues: division of the house and joint property, child custody, visitation rights, alimony, and child support.
The decision to divorce is a difficult painful one, particularly when it is your spouse initiating the process, against your will. Despite the difficulty, despite the frustration, and despite the fact that you and your spouse are not on the best of terms, or even communicating at all, it is advisable to make every effort to cooperate, and to reach consensus, before your conflict passes into the hands of the courts. During this difficult time, you will likely be tempted by bad advice, urging you to be tough, to avoid compromise, and to use your position to harm your former spouse, or to achieve an advantage with regard to property or the children. The temptation to deny one’s spouse a get, to engage in economic extortion, invasion of privacy, and even criminal acts, is likely to be great, but you must keep in mind that if you yield to this temptation, you harm not only your spouse, but yourself, your property, your future, your extended families, and if you have children –them as well.
A protracted divorce process harms everyone involved. The emotional stress, bitterness, and enmity that accompany a long-drawn-out divorce process will likely affect your personal well-being - your emotional and financial states. The intractability you exhibit now may backfire when situations reverse and you wish to remarry, and your spouse in concerned because of your behavioral pattern. Moreover, if you and your spouse have children, hostility between the two of you will prevent the two of you from meaningfully participating in their lives, their accomplishments, their times of joy and of grief. A tense environment resulting from a protracted disputed divorce, can also have a profound impact on children, affecting their emotional state, behavior, scholastic achievement, social interactions, capacity for forming lasting intimate relationships, and ability to maintain a healthy bond with both their parents. A further benefit of reaching an agreement is that it considerably reduces the cost of divorce and the time entailed to actually attain the desired get.
How Can an Agreement be Reached?
If you are interested in reaching an agreement and believe in its importance, you are already half way there. It is also critical to recognize that neither side can have all their expectations met in an agreement. An agreement is possible only if both sides are prepared to compromise and make concessions.
There are several agencies and professionals who can assist you in this important endeavor that you are undertaking:
» Professional mediation: This is a conflict resolution method that is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to legal proceedings. You can consult a professional mediator on your own initiative or you may be referred to one by the family court or the rabbinical court. Mediation is a means by which a divorcing couple can reach a compromise, in the spirit of the maxim, “Compromise is preferable to litigation.” The mediator (who may be a lawyer, psychologist, educational counselor, or social worker) is an impartial party, who facilitates communication between you, helps you identify points of contention and reach a settlement through pinpointing common interests. Mediation possesses several advantages over litigation: it is cheaper and quicker, and since its solutions are not imposed upon the involved parties, it avoids much of the hostility and bitterness that characterize divorce court battles. The positive tone it sets encourages future cooperation, which is vital, particularly if you have children together. Your signed settlement agreement is generally sent, at the end of the mediation process, to the family court or rabbinical court, in order to make it binding. Even if you fail to resolve the conflict through mediation, anything you may have said during mediation sessions cannot be brought as evidence in court. There are many mediation agencies in Israel, some public, some private, some run by businesses, and others, by non-profit organizations.
» Support Centers Adjunct to the Courts: Throughout the country, there are support units of the Social Welfare Ministry located near the family courts, staffed with social workers who will assist you, at no cost, in your divorce. These units deal in couple and family counseling and mediation, and they can refer you to communal agencies, which can help you. These support units are advantageous in that they enable you to resolve the conflict between you and your spouse without intensifying it, while also, according to most opinions, investing the family court with jurisdiction in your case, in the event that this mediation fails. You may seek advice from these agencies of your own initiative by submitting a request for conflict resolution or be referred to one upon the recommendation of a judge.
» Court Social Workers and Mediators: Social workers are employed by the rabbinical courts, who provide services to the public, free of charge. One may schedule an appointment with them or turn to them for assistance during the course of your time in bet din. In the rabbinical courts in Ashkelon and Rehovot, professional mediators, employed by the organization ADAM, also offer their services free of charge.
» Court Arbitration: The two sides may ask the court to rule in all or part of their case through a compromise settlement agreement. In this case, the compromise settlement will be considered a legal ruling and thus binding.
For a list of relevant telephone numbers, click here.
Step by Step
› A Moment Before
› Where and When
› Who Needs a Get and What For?
› Reaching an Agreement With Your Spouse
› The Legal Proceedings
› Registering for Divorce
› The Rabbinical Court
› Certification of Your Divorce Agreement
› The Get Ceremony
› After the Divorce