After 40 years of 'marriage,' wife left entitled to one tenth of a shekel

Due to decades of delay in filing divorce, judge decides the women's claim for half of her late husband's belongings had insufficient merit even though they spent years apart

Adv. Zohar Koresh|
A family court in Israel recently rejected a woman's request to be acknowledged as the entitled party to half of her late husband's belongings, from which she parted 40 years ago, despite never finalizing the divorce.
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  • While the woman passed away during the trial, Judge Orit Ben-Dor Libel determined that since her husband left her no more than one tenth of a shekel, that was a clear indication he did not view his wife as worthy to half his belongings.
    2 View gallery
    מטבע 10 עשר אגורות
    מטבע 10 עשר אגורות
    10 agorot
    The couple married in 1950 and had three children. The husband was physically abusive towards her, which necessitated his expulsion from the home in 1973, where she and her young daughter remained. They did not get back together and the husband began seeing other women, but they never finalized their divorce. He did, however, continue to pay alimony on a monthly basis up until the day he died.
    In her suit filed against her children, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in July of 2016, the woman claimed that by virtue of a shared life, she was entitled to half the marital assets. She further claimed that the fact that he remained married to her and continued to pay alimony, conceptualized the concept of a shared life, which makes her entitled to what she asked.
    The youngest daughter, although named as a defendant, supported the mother's claims. The two remaining children claimed that the suit was conceived by their younger sister in order to have them effectively removed from the will. They added that their mother avoided divorce proceedings despite the father's wishes.
    2 View gallery
    אולם בבית משפט השלום בתל אביב
    אולם בבית משפט השלום בתל אביב
    A court room
    (Photo: Mor Shimoni)
    Judge Libel maintained that since this was about the deceased's estate, the burden of proof on the wife would be greater, seeing as her husband wasn't alive to articulate his intentions, and that the "10 agorot" issue was a clear sign of how he felt.
    The verdict mentioned the large delay of no less than 40 years to file the suit, suggesting that the issue had already been discussed in a Rabbinical Court, and that their verdict contradicted the woman's assertion that her husband was the one who refused to finalize the divorce. In addition, their separation was irreconcilable and with little hope of reunification, the woman's claims for a shared life was further undermined.
    The judge added that the woman's failure to make similar legal claims when he was still alive is an indication that she had effectively given up the right for a share of the estate. With those factors in mind, her suit was rejected and she had been ordered to reimburse her children for court expenses in the sum of 35,000 NIS.
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