Infidelity during marriage does not constitute a "special circumstance" that would serve as good cause to deviate from an equitable division of assets following a divorce, the Israel High Court ruled on Wednesday. In doing so, it overturned a ruling by the Chief Rabbinate.
The controversial ruling pertained to a case of a couple that wed in 1985. The husband filed for divorce 18 years later with the Beersheba District Rabbinical Court. He claimed that his wife had cheated on him and, as such, he should not be compelled to provide her with 50% of the financial assets acquired during the marriage.
The court, however, claimed that "just as infidelity does not result in the woman losing the property with which she entered the marriage, or the money she earned during the marriage, she cannot lose joint financial assets accrued during the marriage, even if her actions are the cause of its termination."
The husband appealed to the Chief Rabbinate, who ruled in his favor, stating that, "the fact that the betrayed party will, as a result of being betrayed, need to build a new home and remarry, suggests that the assets should not be divided evenly."
The woman then appealed to Israel's High Court, who overturned the Chief Rabbinate's ruling, stating that "the fact that infidelity causes the break up of a marriage does not, ipso facto, create the need to 'build a new home'."
The High Court ruling noted that the husband had not claimed that he had acquired new financial burdens pursuant to the divorce and, as such, they did not see a reason to deviate from the traditional 50-50 split of assets.
Furthermore, they added that "the dissolution of a marriage is brought on by complex circumstances and infidelity alone does not make one party singularly responsible for it."