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Shabbat Parashat Vayetzei| 5765

Pninat Mishpat

A Request to Close a File - Excerpts from Piskei Din Rabbaniim- vol. IX, pp. 242-251
Case: A woman sued her husband for support, as part of divorce proceedings. Some time later, she asked the court to close the file, because they were in the midst of reconciliation. Beit din originallyagreed to close the file after an additional thirty days of inactivity (which already passed) but subsequently refused to do so. The wife appealed their refusal to the Supreme Rabbinical Court. The husband wants to continue and clear his name in the court where the file was opened and claims that she wants to sue with the same claims in a different court system. The wife claims that there were flaws in the way the file was handled, and so she has the right to switch. The wife’s lawyer cites provision 18 of the Law of the Courts that a plaintiff can close a file before the court begins dealing with the matter. The husband’s side cites regulation 70/1 that is intended to prevent someone from opening a file in one court and then switching to another if he feels that things are not going his way.
Ruling: We should note that beit din began to deal with the file, as they sent a request from the husband’s employer to send information about his salary (to determine how much support he is capable of paying) and summoned the sides to a first hearing. Thus, provision 18 does not apply.
 It is true that according to beit din’soriginal decision, the file was to have been closed already. However, the file’s actual closure does not occur automatically but requires beit din’s final decision. Part of their decision includes giving the defendant the opportunity to object to the closure, as has happened in this case. This is all the more true in this case, where it turns out that the stated basis for closing the file (the wife’s claim of a process of reconciliation) was fallacious. Her true intentions, as she now admits, were to attempt to receive more favorable results in a different court.
From one perspective, it is generally in the parties’ interest not to switch from one court to another or to have different issues dealt with in different courts. However, it is the plaintiff’s prerogative to cease adjudiction, whether or not it is for her own good. An issue here is that the plaintiff besmirched the defendant’s good name while making the original claims when opening the file. He thus can demand the opportunity to clear his name and not leave the claims open against him. If the plaintiff were willing to withdraw and disavow her claims, then she could close the file against his will, as his name would have already been cleared. However, in this case, she is continuing to make the claims, just in a different place. Therefore, he has the right to demand the opportunity to clear his name in the forum that she gave jurisdiction to deal with the matter.
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