In recent years, we have witnessed a rise of the phenomenon of the evading of maintenance payments when a person liable for maintenance can, at the present time, with relative ease, move to another country and thus thwart or make the collection of maintenance difficult.
The ever-widening perception throughout the world is that it is the States themselves who bear the responsibility for assuring international collection and a reduction of this phenomenon.
The 1956 New York Convention
There is in existence between Israel and many foreign states (approximately 50 states) a 1956 "United Nations Convention and Commission with regard to Maintenance Obligations" (hereinafter - "New York Convention"). Under the Convention, children who are entitled to maintenance in Israel receive assistance in recovering maintenance from those liable for maintenance in foreign countries that are signatories to the Convention. On a reciprocal basis, the State of Israel assists, through the Legal Aid Department (the "Central Authority" under the Convention), in the recovery of maintenance from those liable for maintenance in Israel for the benefit of children who are entitled to maintenance in the Foreign States that are signatories to the Convention.
The effect of all this is that any State that is seeking to enforce a judgment from another State, proceeds with enforcement of the judgment in accordance with the local law of that State (Article 6 of the Convention). Thus, for example, in the event of England wishing to enforce an English judgment in Israel for the benefit of an English beneficiary, the State of Israel will proceed under the local law, in other words in accordance with what is provided in the Foreign Judgments Enforcement Law, 5718 - 1958 (hereinafter -"Foreign Judgments Enforcement Law") and/or in accordance with what is stated in the Execution Law, 5727 - 1967.
Under the Foreign Judgments Enforcement Law, an examination must be made as to whether the foreign judgment was pronounced within a period of less than five years, whether the foreign court pleadings were duly served on the Defendant in Israel, whether the judgment can be enforced in Israel, and also whether enforcement is not contrary to public policy. Thus, for example, it may well not be possible to enforce a judgment for child maintenance where they became adults at the time when the foreign judgment was pronounced. Additionally, it will not be possible to enforce a foreign judgment in Israel which was pronounced ex parte and in which it is emphasized that the Statement of Claim was not served on the opposing party.
When an official request is received from the second country for enforcement of the foreign judgment, and following an examination that the request meets the conditions of the Foreign Judgments Enforcement Law, an outside lawyer will be appointed by the Legal Aid Department who will submit, to the Family Court in Israel on behalf of the foreign applicant, an official application for enforcement of the foreign judgment.
In order to submit an application for enforcement of a foreign judgment, the applicant must arrive at the Legal Aid District Office near the applicant's place of residence and submit a written application on an official application form.
If your application has already been forwarded to the District Office and you have been invited to a meeting, you are advised to prepare copies of the following documents:
* In the case of an application for enforcement of an existing Judgment - a copy of the Judgment (original copy and/or a certified or authenticated copy)
* A Power of Attorney of the Applicant, which can be assigned to an outside lawyer
* Original Marriage and/or Divorce Certificate with a certified translation
* Birth Certificate of the children for which the application is being submitted
* As many identification details as are possible concerning the Debtor (Identity Card and/or Passport, Residential Address, Bank Accounts, Assets etc.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE UNITED STATES FOR COLLABORATION IN ENFORCEMENT OF PAYMENT OF CHILD MAINTENANCE
Due to the close connections between the State of Israel and the United States of America, which is a preferred emigration destination, many persons who are liable for child maintenance leave Israel for the United States in order to avoid paying maintenance for their children. Likewise, persons liable for child maintenance from the USA either immigrate to or return to Israel in order to avoid payment of maintenance for children. By reason of the foregoing, as the United States of America is not a signatory to the New York Convention, on February 5, 2009 the Minister of Justice and the US Consul General in Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the USA for collaboration in enforcement of payment of child maintenance (hereinafter: "The Memorandum of Understanding").
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the USA and Israel are responsible for collaborating in the enforcement of payment of child maintenance from a parent residing within their borders in respect of the children living in the other country, this either as part of enforcement of a judgment for maintenance or by means of assistance in submitting a new claim for maintenance (means which are not available under the New York Convention) and also by such other methods as are agreed by the countries (as detailed below). Thus, for example, when a judgment is pronounced for maintenance in favor of children in Israel and a parent who is liable for maintenance is residing in the USA, it will be possible to make application to the Legal Aid Department (it being the "Central Authority" charged with implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding) in order to enforce the judgment in the USA and to recover the maintenance from that parent. Each country bears all costs of the proceedings in the courts and execution within its territory.
Similarly as in the case of the New York Convention, the Legal Aid District Offices refer the application to the Central Authority of the USA for the process to proceed, such as locating the liable parent, submission of a claim against him, enforcement of an existing maintenance award, as well as activation of the various kinds of methods of collection and enforcement that can be implemented under the Law of the State in which the debtor is residing in the USA, such as: deduction at source from salary, deduction from bank accounts, attachment of tax or national insurance refunds, revocation of driver's license, business license, sale of property as well as imprisonment. Correspondingly, the Central Authority of the USA also applies to the Legal Aid Department in Israel for it to proceed in a similar manner for the recovery of maintenance from debtors who are located in Israel.
For the submission of an application for the institution of proceedings pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding, the applicant must submit a written application on an official application form to the Legal Aid District Office nearest to the area in which he resides, and the applicant will subsequently be invited to the District Office.
Prior to the meeting at the Legal Aid District Office, you are recommended to have in your possession the following documents:
* In the case of an application for enforcement of an existing judgment - a copy of the judgment (an original and/or certified or authenticated copy)
* Marriage and/or Divorce Certificate
* Birth Certificate/s of the children for whom the application is being submitted
* Identification details about the debtor, as many as possible (Identity Card and/or Passport, Residential Address, Place of Work, Bank Accounts, Assets etc.)
* In the event of it being relevant, any information/document concerning default in payment of maintenance and/or past payments of maintenance (such as default in the Execution Office case file, etc.)
* Any other relevant information.