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Shabbat Parashat Naso| 5771

P'ninat Mishpat: Place of Adjudication

(condensed from Shurat Hadin, vol. VII, pp. 465-466)

Case: The litigants are Israelis who were married in Israel but got divorced with a get abroad without any type of divorce settlement or other preliminary legal agreements such as determining a place or a mechanism of adjudication. Afterwards, the woman (=pl) sued in the Rabbanut court in Tel Aviv with a variety of monetary claims, including child support and division of property. The man (=def) also wants to have the matter adjudicated in a rabbinical court but he demands that it be in a Charedi court in Bnei Brak. (Both former spouses are Charedi.)

 

Ruling: According to Israeli law, the Rabbanut’s rabbinical courts have authority to adjudicate monetary matters related to the dissolution of marriage only when the adjudication is linked to divorce proceedings. In our case, where the matter was raised after divorce, the rabbinical courts lack legal jurisdiction, and thus the secular courts have legal jurisdiction, unless the two sides agree to adjudicate at the rabbinical court. This case is unique in that both sides are not interested in adjudicating at the secular courts that are subscribed by Israeli law. Rather, both agree to the alternative of a rabbinical court, just that they disagree as to whether it should be a rabbinical court under governmental auspices or a private one.

Although the rule is that one follows the beit din of choice of the defendant, that is only when the two rabbinical courts in question are of the same authority. Even if the two sides agree to adjudicate in a private rabbinical court, there are elements that are not binding based on the laws of arbitration. Specifically, child support and custody are subject to the oversight of the secular courts and even that which was agreed upon can be overturned. In contrast, the rulings of the governmental rabbinical courts are binding in these areas.

This claim, though, depends on whether this is a case where the Rabbanut courts have jurisdiction by law, which is usually when the two sides agree to adjudicate there. The matter seems as follows. The law recognizes two systems of courts, the government rabbinical and secular courts. If pl wants the rabbinical court, def could object and prefer the secular court. However, since he is not doing that, there is no third alternative that the law recognizes. No private court has standing in this regard according to law.

Therefore, due to the authority and ability to enforce its rulings, the parties are to adjudicate at the Rabbanut courts, despite def’s objections.

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