Justice Minister Haim Ramon has announced the formation of a committee to investigate unpaid alimony in Israel. The sum of the debt accumulated in the collection offices and at the National Insurance Institute of Israel has hit NIS 19 billion (USD 4.2 billion), a result of years of bureaucracy.
Every year thousands of cases are filed at the collection offices. The unbearable situation will be investigated by the committee that minister of justice has commissioned and will thoroughly examine alimony and means of collection.
Dr. Peretz Segal, the committee's point-man alongside attorney Dafna Glock, told Ynet that the committee will work in accordance to the United Nations Children's rights Convention, which Israel joined 15 years ago.
"Alimony is part of personal accountability, part of the parent's responsibility and not part of the marital law," he explained. "The convention puts the responsibility of alimony payments to children on the state. Today, mothers have to run to the collection office in order to collect alimony from fathers. The convention determines that the responsibility lies with the state."
Dr. Segal also said that "It's important to establish clear parameters to the alimony claims to prevent a situation of gaps between the civil courts and the different rabbinical courts.
"Often because of these gaps fathers feel arbitrarily taken advantage of by the courts and try to evade alimony payments. Obviously, that hurts the children and mother who can not make up the difference. Not only does the problem fall on the kids' shoulders, but it also divides children and fathers," added Dr. Segal.
Dr. Segal believes that the most serious issue is conditioning the choice and amount of alimony to the husband's willingness to divorce and give the wife the Jewish divorce (get).
The committee, headed by Prof. Pinchas Shifman, a family law expert at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is expected to give its intermediary recommendations to Minister Ramon in one year.