Dozens of people gathered outside the home of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday night, to call for the rights of fathers and shared parenting.
Fathers, mothers and grandparents from child welfare and fathers’ rights organizations held signs with phrases including, “Where is dad?” and “A father for every age” and called upon Livni to adopt the recommendations of the Schnitt and Schiffman committees.
“The courts decide the fate of our children without even consulting the father. We brought these kids into the world with love and we want to continue to raise them in the same manner,” said Amir Shipperman, founder of “Alef zeh Abba” (“Alef stands for Dad”).
Shipperman went through a three-year legal battle to gain the right to see his daughter twice a week.
Fathers at the rally, including lawyers, professors and hi-tech workers, shared their personal stories while holding up pictures of their children.
Nearly all of them recounted similar accounts of years-long legal battles, high alimony payments and bitter custody battles leading to their wives filing complaints to the police.
“Every child has a need for both parents. In the end it is the children who are hurt the most, as the laws today create a competition between the parents,” said Shipperman.
A committee headed by Prof. Dan Schnitt found that the early childhood clause resulted in custody for all of a couple’s children being granted to the mother when one of the children is under six, in order to keep the children together.
When the youngest children turned six, custody was not reconsidered, so as not to change the lifestyle to which the children had grown accustomed.
The Schnitt Committee recommended in 2011 eliminating the clause altogether.
Livni, however, decided to compromise and keep the clause intact for children up to age two.
“Age two is the same as age six as far as we are concerned. Our kids are brutally taken away from us and we came here to take back what is ours,” said Shipperman.
The protesters also called on Livni to adopt the recommendations of the Schiffman Committee which found that there was discrimination between the genders regarding alimony payments that caused financial and mental distress for many fathers.
The committee proposed in 2012 the development of a formula to balance the expenses of parents regarding their children, taking into consideration the parents’ income and time spent with their children.
“A dad who pays such high alimony, more than half of his salary in some cases, and crashes financially and psychologically, can’t be a real father to his children,” said Moshe, a hi-tech worker, whose daughter was three-anda- half-years old when he got divorced.
Since that time, he said he has had to pay very high alimony to his ex-wife and considered himself lucky that he was not disconnected from his daughter during the divorce proceedings.
He echoed the statement heard all night from the protesters, that the children are the ones who are really hurt.
Gil Hoffman and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.