A new Knesset committee is being established to evaluate the laws relating to child support, it was announced on Monday.
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The committee, which will operate within the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, will be headed by MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu). One of its primary objectives is to assure that the children of divorced parents actually get the child support they are entitled to by court order.
The committee will also work to unlink the single mother's salary from the amount of child support she is eligible to receive from the National Insurance Institute, which pays her if the former spouse cannot or does not fulfill his obligations.
Currently, the NII defines all state allowances equally, whether they be child support, income support or disability allowance. Not only is the child support allowance reduced in accordance to the mother's income — to the point that she may not be able to receive any child support at all — but if the divorced woman is eligible to receive some other allowances from the state, she has to choose between that and the child support. The state does not permit the concurrent payment of more than one allowance.
As reported in Haaretz on Monday, some 30 percent of divorced mothers with minor children do not get child support from their exes; they receive it from the NII instead. The maximum benefit paid is 3,373 shekels ($877) per month, which could be considerably less than what the court ordered. Few women even get that. The average NII child support payment last year was only 1,900 shekels. Moreover, any money the mother earns over 600 shekels ($156) a month will result in a decrease of the payment.
The new committee will begin its deliberations at the start of the Knesset’s winter session, after the fall holidays, and submit its recommendations within three months. During the summer recess, Ben Ari will meet with officials in government ministries and social welfare organizations to better understand the issues.
“To view child support as a welfare allowance is distorted,” said Ben Ari. “We must revisit the child support law and examine all the possible options. I will do my best to limit any harm to child support while giving incentives to single mothers to go to work.”
The committee will also consider whether to adopt the conclusions of the Shifman Committee on child support laws, which convened for six years and submitted recommendations for reform in 2012. The committee recommended drawing up an equation of several parameters, including income and the time spent with the children, to determine the level of economic support and its division between the parents. None of the panel’s recommendations were ever implemented.