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Dads: Child Support in Israel among OECD's Highest

Only Swiss divorced fathers pay more than Israeli ones, say fathers' activists. Egalitarian reform is opposed by women's groups.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/16/2013, 8:11 AM

Father and child (illustration)
Father and child (illustration)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The average child support paid by Israeli divorced fathers is higher than that in most OECD countries, and only Switzerland is known to have a higher average rate, according to Israeli men's rights activists.

A table published in the most recent OECD annual report compares average child support payments in 14 OECD countries. In Australia, Finland, Germany, Norway, Poland and Sweden, the average monthly payment per child is less than $200. In Austria, Belgium, Canada and Britain, it is between $200 and $300, and in the US it stands at $333.

The average payment per child in Israel is over $500, according to the activists' websites. Only the payments in Switzerland are known to be higher, at $657 according to the OECD chart.

The activists note that the average monthly salary in Israel is about $2,500, while the average wage in Switzerland is over $5,500.

Activist Alon Hoffman addressed an e-mail to all 120 Knesset Members, citing the data and explaining: “It is true that the cost of living in Israel is high. Especially when the father had to pay twice – for the time the children spend with him, and also for the time they spend with their mothers.”

"The harsh reality is that fathers whose salary is close to the average wage and who have 2 or more children, are destined to a life of poverty upon signing the divorce agreement,” he added.

Hoffman notes that a public committee headed by Prof. Pinhas Shifman has recommended that child support payments in Israel be shared by mother and father, instead of the current system, which does not take into account the mother's earnings and places the entire burden of child support on the man, in accordance with Jewish law.

Deputy Religions Minister Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan (Jewish Home), who was Director of the Rabbinical Courts for 20 years, supports the recommended egalitarian reform in child support computation. However, “feminist” women's organizations oppose it, saying the time is not yet ripe for equality in this matter. As a result of their opposition, the Shifman Committee's recommendations continue to gather dust, seven years after it was first convened and long after it submitted its report.

Feminists are also fighting the recommendations of the Schnitt Committee, a professional committee that recommended egalitarian child custody reform, and abolition of the Tender Years' Doctrine in favor of an approach that sees both father and mother as equally important parents. MK Zehava Galon has vowed to “bury” those recommendations, but Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced that she would submit a compromise bill, that would lower the age of maternal custody presumption from 6 to 2.