Israel introduces compulsory mediation for divorcing couples


Israeli couples who apply to divorce will have to undergo compulsory mediation following the introduction of a new law.

The spouses at loggerheads will need to meet counsellors or rabbis for a series of four meetings within a period of 45 days. If they fail to reconcile within that period, then the rabbinical courts will process their divorce application.

The traditional rabbinical courts have exclusive authority over marriage and divorce in Israel – no civil alternatives are available.

The law, which came into force on Sunday, was introduced by Knesset member Merav Michaeli, a former journalist who has developed a reputation for women’s and minority rights activism. She said she hoped it lead to a fall in the divorce rate.

“Disputes will thus be resolved before legal proceedings occur. The discussions will be private, and will focus on the issues between couples, as well as how to avoid disputes that could be painful to children and families.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked added: “Similar laws in other countries have shown that it is possible for couples to work out issues and disputes before raising them in legal channels.”

Photo of Merav Michaeli by Alan Kotok via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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