High Court: Cheating Doesn't Prevent Equal Division of Assets

Judge overrules High Rabbinic Court ruling, determines unfaithful wife is entitled to her legal share.

The High Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that infidelity by one spouse is not an "exceptional circumstance" that justifies dividing marital assets unequally.

The court ruled on an appeal against a ruling by the High Rabbinic Court, which had ruled that a wife was not entitled to her legal share of certain property her husband had accumulated during their marriage, because she had been unfaithful.

The couple married in 1985, and the husband filed for divorce in the Be'er Sheva Rabbinic Court in 2003. He claimed his wife had cheated on him, and asked that she not be granted her share of his assets, such as his pension, because her infidelity qualified as "exceptional circumstances."

The rabbinic court denounced the wife's behavior, but refused to take away her rights. The husband appealed to the High Rabbinic Court, which accepted his appeal in September 2006, saying the husband would now have extra expenses due to his wife's unilateral, surprising behavior. He would now need to build himself a new household and life, it ruled, and placed the blame on the wife.

In overruling the rabbinic court, Justice Miriam Naor wrote, "Every breakup of a marriage has broad economic effects, and the need to 'build another home' is not unique to couples whose marriage was broken up by infidelity."