Bill Would Require Israeli Couples to Seek Mediation Before Divorcing

Such legislation would also end estranged spouses’ rush to the court of their choosing.


Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to send a bill to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday requiring couples to go through a preliminary mediation process before divorcing.

According to current divorce law, the first spouse to approach either kind of court — religious or civil — effectively makes the decision on where the proceedings will be held. This has led many people seeking a divorce to try to preempt their estranged spouse and file at a court that best serves their interests.

That situation is thought to make it even more difficult for divorcing couples to find alternative solutions like mediation, negotiation or counselling.

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) introduced the bill that Livni is presenting to the committee. Naftali Bennett’s right-wing party Habayit Hayehudi, however, is expected to oppose the bill after attempts among the parties to resolve the divorce issue failed.

“This is a historic opportunity to put an end to a process that destroys families and needlessly hurts children. The time has come to end the race for a bill of divorce and include mediation processes in the courts,” Lavie said Saturday.

“The time has come for Habayit Hayehudi ministers to understand that more couples will feel that the rabbinate is there to serve them as well .... In no other place in the world does a race to file a divorce suit determine who wins in the end.”

According to Lavie, “Divorce reform terrifies Habayit Hayehudi. Twice I delayed sending my bill to the ministerial committee. The third time, a coalition council was formed, and it decided that the bill would go forward this time.