Paternity claim in Israel – the rights of the father, the mother, and the child

A paternity claim in Israel is usually a shorthand for an application to the family court asking it to order a tissue test to prove paternity. A DNA test is the main form of proving paternity if the father and mother are not married to each other, and in Israel such a test can only be performed with a court order. In addition, Israeli authorities will accept the results of a DNA test to prove paternity only if it was issued from one of several Israeli labs licensed for performing the test , based on a court order.

Our office specializes in immigration law and family law. Several articles we wrote in the past explained about the process of filing a paternity claim for the purposes of obtaining Israeli citizenship for children of an Israeli/Jewish father, and if a foreign citizen/non-Jewish mother. In this article we will explain other aspects of a paternity claim in Israel; with regards to child support, inheritance rights, and other issues involving proving the father’s identity.

What is a paternity test?

Paternity test is the test of a tissue in a saliva / blood sample, which is taken from the putative father, mother, and child at one of the authorized laboratories (Hadasa Ein Kerem – Jerusalem, Tel Hashomer – Sheba, Rabin – Campus Belinson Petah Tikvha, Rambam Haifa) or at an Israeli Embassy abroad. The DNA in the samples is tested, and a conclusion is given regarding the chances that it is indeed taken from the child’s father. The sample is taken “in triplicate” – both parents and the child – so that the certainty of the result will be higher.

Sometimes, when the offspring became an adult, and one of the parents has passed away, it is possible to request a special DNA test that does not include both parents. For example, in a case handled by our office, where the father in question was no longer alive, a tissue test was conducted between two half-siblings.

A paternity claim for alimony will usually be filed by the mother while the child is a minor. However, a claim may also be submitted by a guardian or the minor themself after reaching the age of majority, generally in cases regarding the right of inheritance.

Who cannot undergo tissue testing?

Married Jewish women.

Why? Because if the father of a child of a married Jewish woman is not her legal husband, this child will receive the status of “Mamzer” according to Jewish law. The religious and family court system in Israel avoids actions that may cause a child to receive this stigma.

However, non-Jewish or unmarried women can file a paternity claim without said obstacles. Jewish women will be required to show that they were not married during the pregnancy.

In the case of married Jewish women, it is not possible to submit a paternity DNA test, and the legal husband will be considered the father of the child even if he claims that the real father is another person, and even if there are practical reasons why he could not be the father of the child.

If the welfare of the child of a married Jewish woman requires recognition that the father is a person who is not her husband, a civil paternity claim can be filed – in which a judgment will be issued, based on evidence other than the DNA test, recognizing the father of the child from the point of view of the civil authorities (Ministry of the Interior, Social Security, etc.) but not religiously.

Finally, the child can request to undergo a paternity test after reaching the age of majority, while consciously recognizing the significance of a Mazmer status for himself and for his descendants.Paternity claim in Israel

The difficulty in obtaining permission for a paternity test

Even in the case of an application for tissue testing for the purposes of proving eligibility for immigration/citizenship, there are conflicting desires. While the parents and the child want to prove the child’s paternity, the court wants to make sure that the child does not turn out to be a Mamzer. The Ministry of the Interior, as a respondent in the case, may be interested in not allowing the test to be carried out.

All this is even more complicated to the extent that the wishes of the parents and the child are different. The father may not be interested in proving his paternity and paying alimony, while the mother may appeal the court to do so, and the child is interested in knowing who his father is – an important right in an of itself, even without being accompanied alimony or child support.

What if the father does not agree to undergo a tissue test?

A claim of paternity without the father’s consent also involves going to the family court, and presenting initial evidence that there was indeed a sexual relationship between the father and the mother. There is no requirement for conclusive proof, as the DNA test will definitively prove or disprove the claim.

If the father does not agree to submit a sample of his own accord, he may find himself accused of contempt of court. In this case, the court may impose a fine, depending on the circumstances. Furthermore, the court is authorized to declare a person who refuses to undergo a paternity test as the minor’s father.

What happens after submitting the paternity test?

The results of the test reach the court (not handed directly to the parents), and the court will issue a verdict based on the results. Depending on the purpose of the lawsuit, the court may issue a practical order – to the Ministry of the Interior regarding the registration of the child as an Israeli citizen, an alimony order if the lawsuit concerns family law, or the child’s participation in the inheritance insofar as the lawsuit concerns this. On the other hand, the father gains the right to participate in the fate of the child, his upbringing, place of residence, visitation arrangements, and even a claim to custody under certain circumstances.

Allegations of “sperm theft”

Sometimes, fathers of children from a transient relationship may claim that it was not their intention to have children, and that the mother convinced them that she was using contraception. This is a complicated claim to prove, but if the father has tangible evidence (correspondence, emails, recorded conversations), the court may be convinced. In this case there is room to file a tort claim against the mother based on contract law.

Paternity claim – contact family law experts

If you wish to file a paternity claim in Israel or if such a claim has been filed against you, it is recommended to seek the help of an expert lawyer familiar with the Israeli legal system. Our office has experience in hundreds of paternity tests for the purpose of proving the paternity of the child(ren) or asserting the father’s rights if necessary.

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