The Function of 'Custody' in Israeli Family Law
Yoav D. Mazeh
Ono Academic College Faculty of Law
March 17, 2011
The notion of custody in Israeli law is rather peculiar, in that this concept bears no legal definition. This stands in sharp contrast to the concepts of guardianship and visitation rights, each of which are well-defined by law.
On the one hand, both parents are considered the guardians of their children. The concept of guardianship is well defined, and includes the right and authority to make decisions in relation to a child's well-being, including the right and duty to represent the child, to be responsible for his or her education, to manage the child’s assets, and so forth.
On the other hand, visitation rights determine the time allocation as between parents, that is to say, in whose care the child will be at any given time.Yet, in addition to these two notions – guardianship and visitation rights - there exists a third notion of 'custody'.
In my paper, I argue that there is no clear understanding of the meaning of 'custody' in Israeli law.
The custodial parent’s authority does not exceed that of the non-custodial parent, since parental authority is determined according to the laws of guardianship.
Similarly, a custody determination does not indicate which parent spends more time with their child, since this issue is determined according to a parent’s visitation rights. Indeed, in certain instances, a visitation decision may grant the non-custodial parent more time with their child than it grants the custodial parent. The key question examined here is that of the function served by the notion of custody in Israeli law.
Keywords: Family Law, Custody, Israel
Date posted: March 24, 2011
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