Religious Courts Make Grab for Power to Exercise Jurisdiction to Rule on All Aspects of Divorce, Even in Secular Marriages

Israel recognizes two types of marriages, those solemnized by a religious authority and those solemnized by a civil or secular authority.

Historically, ending of a marriage solemnized civilly is heard in a civil or secular family court, and ending of a marriage solemnized by a religious authority is heard in a religious court.

But in recent power plays, religious courts have claimed and exercised divorce jurisdiction over secular marriages. Including jurisdiction over child support, child custody and property division.

In effect overruling a 2006 decision of Israel’s High Court of Justice, holding that civil marriages can only be ended in secular family courts.

Two religious courts have gone so far as to hold that they have authority to resolve disputes over conditions husbands may impose to agree to a divorce. In one such case, the court denied a divorce to a wife who asserted that she is a victim of domestic violence by her husband.

Religious divorce law applied by religious courts may reflect gender bias that favors husbands in property division.

Read more in this Haaretz article: Rabbis claim new powers in divorces of couples married in civil unions.