Alimony payments to the woman

Basic rules in determining the alimony amount

The most basic rule for a woman in a Jewish marriage (performed according to Jewish law) is to receive alimony:  A married woman is entitled to receive alimony payments from her husband in an amount that allows her to maintain the standard of living she has been accustomed to while living together as a couple.  This rule is guided by the Jewish pronouncement that a woman “…rises with him but does not fall”.

Not sure about your rights? Worried that you‘re liable to end up paying too much in alimony? Afraid you’ll receive too little or that your alimony will be denied? Contact the firm of attorney and notary public Avivit Moskovich, which specializes in legal representation and accompaniment, including for complex cases that demand sophisticated and creative solutions.

Attorney Avivit Moskovich explains – how are height alimony

Until when does the husband pay alimony?

The husband must continue paying alimony until the divorce or until a judgment is rendered that obliges the wife to divorce her husband after refusing to do so.

What is the difference between alimony and child support?

First of all, it is important to point out that in contrast with child support payments, whose extent is determined according to ‘essential needs’, alimony payments are broader in definition.  They are set in accordance with the man’s wealth and social status.  Alimony is guided by the rule of “…a woman rises with him but does not fall”.  Put simply: alimony payments are ruled to be substantially higher that child support payments.

Rules determining alimony payment amounts

Three primary factors affect rulings for the alimony amount:

  1. The husband’s income.
  2. The woman’s needs such as food, clothing, housing and so forth.
  3. The woman’s income, if any, including salary, earnings from assets and so forth.

What does the alimony amount include?

Alimony payments are meant to cover all of the woman’s needs—food, clothing, shoes, apartment/housing expenses, home maintenance including rent or mortgage payments, feminine needs, make-up, extracurricular classes, car expenses, studies, and all other expenses the woman paid for during the couple’s share life together

The woman is also not obliged to work

An additional basic rule in ruling on alimony payments is that the woman is not required to work; there is nothing in the law that obliges the woman to go out and get a job.  This means that a woman who chooses to remain at home and not get a job does not deprive herself of her right to alimony.  If she does go out and get a job and earn a salary, the husband is entitled to say to her: “Go, the work of your hands shall be your alimony”, but he is not entitled to demand that she go out and earn money so as to exempt him from alimony payments.

Additionally, the woman’s earning potential is not addressed except for in rare cases.  Family and rabbinical courts have considered the woman’s earning potential as a professional who has worked for many years in her profession and/or when the couple’s children have grown up, or in cases of extremely brief marriages.  In a case where the woman has not worked for many years, she cannot be obliged to go out and work.

How alimony payment amounts are determined – as explained by attorney Avivit Moskovich.

Implications of being a woman with assets that exceed alimony

When a woman owns an apartment, or savings plans, or any other assets, it does not affect the ruling on the alimony payment, because she is not obliged to realize any of her assets in order to support herself.  However, income deriving from those same assets, for example rental payments on an apartment or interest on savings, will definitely be taken into account in determining the alimony payment amount.

When is a woman’s right to receive alimony denied?

The woman’s infidelity as grounds for denying alimony

A woman who has been unfaithful to her husband loses her rights to alimony payments.  Substantial evidence of infidelity is required.  Legal instances will demand receiving substantial evidence in order to deny alimony.

Intentionally impairing the performance of mitzvoth as grounds for denying alimony

A woman who intentionally causes her husband to transgress religious rules (among religiously observant couples of course), has been warned by her husband and yet continues with this behavior creates a situation in which her eligibility to alimony is denied.  This is conditional on two cumulative conditions:

  1. The husband must prove that the woman has acted intentionally – an innocent mistake does not serve as sufficient grounds.
  2. The husband cannot claim that the woman has impaired his mitzvoth if he himself is accustomed to making such transgressions.

Refusal to engage in intimate relations as grounds for denying alimony

Such a case involves a woman who rebels in the marital relationship and refuses to have intimate relations with her husband.  In principle, the woman’s behavior negates her eligibility to receive alimony from her husband, for she does not live with him and does not fulfill her marital obligations.  Nevertheless, in the event the woman remains at home and refuses intimate relations for justified reasons, it is possible to demand that the husband pay alimony.

Where to file a suit for alimony, in a court or Rabbinical Court ?

It is important to note that the woman can file a suit for alimony with a family court or rabbinical court (Rabbinical Court ).  However a husband who precedes the wife by filing for divorce, including a ruling on alimony payments, negates the wife’s option to file her suit with family court.

It is customary to imagine that the rabbinical courts set lower alimony payments, which indeed does happen, however that are also cases in which the reverse is true.

One can say that each case is judged according to its merits.

It is important to remember that the rabbinical court has a substantial advantage that a regular court lacks: It can hand down an order for apartmental/housing payments, which prevents the dismantling of the couple’s shared ownership of the home—by virtue of the woman’s right to housing in the framework of her alimony.

The wife leaving the home as grounds for denying alimony

If the husband leaves the home, the wife’s right to alimony remains intact.  If the wife leaves the home, it is possible that her right to alimony will indeed suffer.  A wife who leaves the home without a justifiable reason will lose her alimony payments.  As for the question of what constitutes a justifiable reason, each case is checked on its merits.  If the wife leaves the home due to her husband’s violent behavior or humiliating treatment, then he is obliged to support her.  A wife who has left the home needs to prove justifiable reasons for doing so.

Alimony payments in civil marriages

In Israel, when a couple decides upon a civil marriage performed outside of Israel, they are entering into an agreement to live together as a married couple.  Such an agreement has the effect of generating rights and obligations between the spouses according to contract law.

The sides’ sustained line of thinking as well as rules of fairness and integrity dictate that rather than one side being in need of support from the other—whether through alimony payments or other means—that same side is entitled to receive such support.

Similarly to conventional marriages, the alimony payment amount, the term of compulsory alimony, grounds for denying alimony and so forth are questions that shall be decided in civil marriages, unless the court’s ruling relies on the principle of good faith.  These parameters are likely to change from case to case and derive from an assessment of the sides’ behavior, their financial situation, the length of the relationship and so forth, as deemed relevant by virtue of the good faith principle.

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