Fundamental differences between a divorce in the USA and a divorce in Israel

The most significant difference between a divorce in the United States of America and a divorce procedure in Israel lies in the fact that the procedure in Israel is first and foremost religious and only afterwards civil. In the United States, the issue of religion has no meaning in the process. The procedure in the United States is first and foremost legal. Those who also got married in a religious procedure are required to perform the divorce procedure required by religion, but seemingly can be considered divorced according to the law even if they did not complete the religious procedure as required.


Additional differences between the divorce procedures in Israel and the USA

Below is another list of significant differences between the divorce procedures in the two countries:


Alimony wife

In the State of Israel, alimony is paid exclusively to a woman who is still married to her husband, but is separated from him. The payment of alimony to a wife is separate from the payment of alimony to the children, but upon the end of the marriage and the receipt of the divorce, the man can stop paying the alimony to the wife.

In the United States, the situation is somewhat different. Sometimes the man will continue to pay alimony to his ex-wife even after the divorce is over. That is, until the situation where the partner marries again. In the United States there are two different types of alimony – temporary alimony and rehabilitative alimony that the court can award at its discretion.


Unequal distribution of the accumulated property

Contrary to what is customary in Israel, where the accumulated property is usually divided into two equal parts, in the United States the considerations when dividing the property are different and take into account a wide range of arguments that influence the determination of the judges as to the manner of division.


relative guilt in the end of the marriage

The division of the joint property may be affected by this section, which in Israel does not exist at all. This, except in extreme cases where infidelity of one of the spouses has been proven. The Israeli court tries to strive for peace in the home, but does not try to determine the relative guilt of each of the spouses.


Cooling-off period

In the United States there are two types of divorce. The first type is a limited divorce, which means that the couple are separated but not divorced. The second type is absolute divorce, in which case the spouses are divorced in the full sense of the word.

Only an absolute divorce allows the spouses to remarry, just as only the granting of a divorce in Israel allows the spouse to remarry. In the United States, it is possible to automatically proceed to absolute divorce after a certain period in which the couple lived apart


Is there a difference in the role of a divorce lawyer in Israel compared to a divorce lawyer in the US?

The role of a divorce lawyer is similar, whether it is a divorce proceeding according to American law or whether the proceeding is conducted according to Israeli law. The lawyer represents the rights of his client and is obliged to obtain the best and most suitable divorce agreement for him. Even in the United States, as in Israel, the lawyers try to reach a compromise at the beginning.

The fights between the spouses develop only if their lawyers have not succeeded in manipulating the clients towards a compromise. Since the legal battle between the couple is conducted within the walls of the court, the judges are the final arbiters.


Divorce of foreign citizens in Israel

The State of Israel respects the law that exists in foreign countries in general and the United States of America in particular. A non-Israeli couple seeking a divorce in Israel may do so while the court hears the divorce proceedings according to the laws of the country to which the couple belongs. Jewish spouses will divorce in Israel according to Halacha, or they will go through the divorce procedure abroad and the State of Israel will be able to recognize it retrospectively.


The content on this website does not constitute binding legal information, and it is recommended not to rely on it in any way. The information presented in this article is provided for general information only and is in no way a substitute for receiving personal legal assistance from a lawyer specializing in family law. If legal advice is required regarding divorce or family disputes, you should seek the guidance and representation of a lawyer specializing in family law as soon as possible.

The writer is an Israeli lawyer who assists English speakers in the divorce process.

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