Tender Years Clause causes storm in coalition

Two female MKs fight it out in Knesset hallway over which version of Tender Years Clause should pass.

Hezki Baruch,

Jewish Home MK Shuli Muallem
Jewish Home MK Shuli Muallem
Flash 90

Two different versions of the Tender Years Clause were approved on Sunday by the Knesset's Ministerial Committee for Legislation. After they have received initial approval, the laws will be voted on by the Knesset.

One of the laws suggests eliminating the Tender Years Clause altogether, while the other lowers the age from six years to four.

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) opposed MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli's (Jewish Home) version of the law, which lowers the Tender Years Clause age from six to four, but did not oppose MK Yoav Kish's (Likud) version eliminating the clause altogether.

This led Moalem-Refaeli to discover that the entire Kulanu faction - including women's rights activist Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) - was planning to vote for Kish's version, against the Knesset's original agreement on the matter.

On Monday morning, Moalem-Refaeli verbally attacked Azaria in the hallway of the Knesset, promising she would not allow Kish's version to pass, causing an argument which could be heard throughout the halls.

The current Tender Years Clause gives preferential treatment to divorcing mothers over divorcing fathers, nearly guaranteeing that the children will stay with their mother until age six. However, since courts do not like to disturb children's routines and since the courts like to keep siblings together, children often stayed with their mothers well past the mandatory age 6. Often, this meant the child would only see his father once every two weeks - regardless of which parent was more fit to take care of them - and even then, only if the mother was amicable and did not cause problems.




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