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How to obtain permission from the Israeli court to relocate abroad with a child for permanent residency when the other parent is against it?

After the divorce, the lives of your children have changed dramatically, and now they have two homes.

But your life has also changed. You have met someone else and want to create a family with them. The only problem is that your chosen one does not live in Israel. How do you move with your child abroad for permanent residency when they have a second home and a father who strongly opposes it?

Here, everything is very complex, but not hopeless.

Divorce in Israel and Immigration Lawsuit

You can file a special immigration lawsuit in the Israeli family court, the subject of which is the relocation or refusal of the child to move with you to another country for permanent residency.

However, “you can file” is easier said than done…

Every immigration process involving children, a dispute about with whom the child should live, is a colossal challenge for the judge. How can you deny the right to happiness to a young woman who has gone through an unsuccessful marriage and a difficult divorce and has decided to create a new family abroad? How can you refuse repatriation to a woman who was previously married to an Israeli, and if things did not work out with Israel after the divorce, she wants to return home with the child, while the ex-husband is against it?

The immigration process in the Israeli family court requires the judge to do difficult work, both legally and emotionally. The Israeli court must figure out the main issue and understand whether moving abroad will benefit the child or harm their well-being.

The interests of the child, the welfare of the child – that is the guiding star. But how do you decide what is in the child’s best interest when the judge sometimes has to make an inhumane choice: deny the right to leave with the child, thereby breaking up a new family, or allow the relocation and deprive the child of the possibility of living in the same country as their father or mother?

Divorce in Israel and the Interests of the Child

The terms “interests of the child” or “welfare of the child” are deliberately not defined in Israeli family legislation. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is the reluctance to “shut down” the life, the living fabric of each specific situation, problem, family, and force it into a template.

The task of the Israeli family court is to seek, find, and define the interests of the child anew in each specific situation, based on the factual circumstances and taking into account numerous crucial factors:

  • Financial status of the parents
  • Infrastructure and environment in the new country
  • Prospects for the professional integration of the parent requesting relocation abroad
  • Age of the child
  • Environment in Israel, including other relatives such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles
  • Psychological state of the child
  • The child’s position regarding relocation abroad, considering their age
  • Child’s relationships with each parent
  • Cognitive and personality characteristics of the child, their psychological type, past psychological traumas, stress resistance, sociability, adaptability in the new country, and more.

The interests of the child often involve a conclusion from a child psychologist.

A competent professional assessment of all these indicators can only be provided by a child psychologist, and the court always appoints an expert examination in such processes.

Working with a child psychologist requires a special approach from parents and their lawyers with specific knowledge, skills, and experience. The psychologist’s conclusion determines 80% of the success, and the slightest mistake, oversight, rudeness, unnecessary disputes, or negativity can significantly affect the outcome.

Positive, non-toxic interaction with child psychologists is almost an art, and only specialized lawyers, who must be sensitive and intelligent individuals, can navigate without causing harm and providing the necessary support.

Divorce in Israel and Relocation Abroad: Examples from Practice

Let’s consider several examples from the practice of the Israeli family court.

In a well-known precedent in 2008, the court granted the immigration request of a young mother and allowed her to return to her homeland in Germany with her son.

The judges concluded that after the divorce, the woman had no remaining ties to Israel. However, the court obligated the mother to ensure continuous communication between the child and the father by providing a deposit of 200,000 shekels. The purpose of the deposit is simple: if the mother violates the commitment to facilitate the child’s communication with the father (via phone, video calls, physically – during holidays and vacations), the deposit is forfeited and transferred to the father, and simultaneously, the father has the right to appeal to the court to cancel the decision and return the child to Israel.

In another well-known case, the Supreme Court allowed a U.S. citizen to return to her homeland with her two underage children. In this case, the Israeli family court also obligated the mother to ensure continuous communication between the children and their Israeli father. The judges followed previously established standards and obliged the mother to deposit 200,000 shekels.

Divorce in Israel and Relocation Abroad: The Court May Refuse

The Israeli court does not always grant such requests. An example of refusal was observed in a case heard by the Be’er Sheva family court about 10 years ago.

A mother of a 9-year-old child, who had remarried a foreigner and filed an immigration request with the court, was denied permission to move abroad permanently with the child.

The court based its difficult decision on the conclusion of a specially appointed child psychologist who deemed the child too unstable, psychologically vulnerable, and incapable of enduring another loss – the separation from the father and immersion into an entirely new reality.

Interestingly, this argument is voiced in every dispute of this kind, but courts do not always give it decisive importance.

Author: Attorney Arthur Blaer

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