(photo credit: NOAM MOSKOVICH)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is considering a revolutionary bill to obligate divorced mothers to pay the same child support as fathers, a measure that would go far beyond a recent related Supreme Court ruling.
A spokeswoman for Shaked, however, told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “nothing is final,” and the justice minister is still considering a variety of issues.
Until last week’s Supreme Court ruling, men were obligated to pay child support to their ex-wives even in situations of joint custody where the mother earned more than the father.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that divorced mothers of children aged six to 15 are obligated to equally share the financial burden of child support with fathers if their salaries are equal or the woman’s is higher and the child is in joint custody.
While the justices wrote that the existing law had discriminated against men in not taking into account situations in which there is joint custody, the above conditions they set for equality meant that men and women might still be treated differently.
Shaked’s proposed bill, if she does not amend it, would throw out any age-related or other factors except the balance of earning power and child care responsibilities between the parents.
Such a bill would raise a variety of objections from both traditionalists, including from Shaked’s Bayit Yehudi party, and women’s rights activists who view the current legal situation regarding divorce in Israel as unequal due to the weaker status of women in the rabbinical courts.
In the past, Bayit Yehudi has supported applying traditional Jewish law to modern Israeli legal situations as much as possible, which would entail placing a greater financial obligation on fathers.
Shaked’s spokeswoman did not address this issue.
However, the spokeswoman did take on objections by women’s rights groups.
She said Shaked does not have authority over the rabbinical courts, but can address inequalities that discriminate against men in terms of child support in the family courts.
The spokeswoman said Shaked is bothered by the idea that a father who makes less money than a mother, even after the Supreme Court ruling, would still need to pay more child support in certain situations.
Further, she said Shaked’s final version of the bill will mostly be based on the conclusions of the Schiffman Commission that carefully studied the issue.
She acknowledged, however, that there were issues in the rabbinical courts and that Shaked is contemplating the new law be applied to the family courts only, which are considered by many to be fairer to women.