Below are readers' questions about 'Paternity', which we have chosen to answer. More detailed information on 'Paternity' can be found on our main website, Family Law in Israel.

You have to prove a parent-child connection between both of you through genetic testing ordered by the family court in Israel. You should make a joint application together to perform D.N.A. testing, and if the results are positive, then the court will grant a declaration of paternity,which will provide the proof needed in order to be eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.

In 2016 our law office successfully represented a Ukrainian non-Jewish woman in genetic testing proceedings before Petach Tikva Family Court which resulted in a declaration of paternity, which in turn provided the missing link, on the road to status and citizenship in Israel.

Yes! That is once biological paternity is proven. Then the man will have all the parental rights that derive under Israeli law from him being the biological father and natural guardian of the minor. The biological father’s rights are found in Israeli legislation, and are not a function of the length and type of the relationship, if any, between the biological parents, or the number of sexual encounters between them. Alongside a biological father’s rights, under Israeli law, are also his obligations.

If you were still married (though separated) around the time of the second birth, then you can try and get your paternity registered at the Ministry of Interior, preferably with your ex's co-operation.If the Ministry of Interior refuses, then you can bring legal proceedings, through a lawyer, for a declaratory judgment declaring you to be the father,so that the Ministry of Interior will be ordered to register your paternity.

No! Anonymous sperm donors 'working' with a sperm bank appear not to be legally liable for paternity or child maintenance. If such donors were at risk, then sperm banks and fertility treatment in Israel would probably be unable to operate. The situation is different where the sperm donor is 'known' and not anonymous.

Yes, in your reponse to court, you can deny paternity, unless it is scientifically proven, explaining why, and agree to paternity testing in Israel, but request that your DNA sample be taken in the States, according to the procedure in such cases.

Apply to the family court for an order for genetic testing to prove paternity. In Israel a court order is necessary to undergo genetic testing and only certain hospitals are allowed to carry out the testing which involves examining D.N.A. from the mother, the baby and the alleged father. If the results are positive and show you are the father, then the court can order the Ministry of Interior to register your paternity and include your child in your identity card and give him an I.D. number of his own. Our law practice handles such applications.

No! The Genetic Information Act of 2000 explicitly states that the results of genetic testing to prove family connections that were obtained without an Israeli court order cannot be submitted in court, and will not be accepted as evidence. Furthermore, you could not get permission from an Israeli court to perform such testing and circumvent the prohibition created by a 2008 amendment preventing such testing. This prohibition on testing would apply as you are a married, Jewish woman and the results of the tests would involve a risk of illegitimacy to the future child.

You are entitled to file for paternity at the family court, and request genetic testing to establish whether you or her husband are the biological father. However, the court has discretion to refuse genetic testing, if it considers it likely to cause damage to the child, and the Attorney General's representative, whose reaction is asked in paternity cases, could object. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of genetic testing being refused on the ground that the child could lose a 'psychological' father if paternity testing were allowed, and proved that her husband was not a biological parent.

By filing a paternity plea at the family court in Israel, asking for an order to be given for genetic testing. If testing is performed, and the results are positive, a judgment will be given declaring him to be the father.

Yes! An urgent, joint application can be filed at the family court so that an order can be given to perform genetic testing. In support of the application an expert medical opinion must be filed relating to the medical condition and risks, in relation to both the mother and the foetus.

No! A 2008 amendment to The Genetic Information Act of 2000 explicitly forbids the performance of genetic testing to show family connections, including on an unborn child, where there is a risk of it proving ‘illegitimacy’ under Jewish religious law. According to Jewish law, a child born to a married woman and a Jewish man who is not her husband is a “bastard” or “Mamzer”. Such a child has inferior personal status in Jewish law, cannot marry an ordinary Jew, but only a ‘bastard’,and this ‘impediment’ is passed on to the next generation.

Yes, if she files you for paternity and maintenance, and you are declared the father, either on the basis of your admission, or genetic testing ordered by court, you would be legally obliged to support your child, even though you, yourself, are still a minor. Your circumstances would be taken into account and the maintenance sum reduced accordingly. The baby's mother are also legally entitled to sue your parents for the maintenance if you are unable to pay.

You will almost certainly be asked by the Ministry of Interior to bring a paternity judgment from the family court, in order to register your paternity in Israel and give your son a surname containing both his mother's family name, and yours, as the father. This means you will have to apply to the family court to do genetic testing, which is only performed in Israel, by court order. Arrangements can be made for your to give a sample of genetic material in Italy, via the Israeli Consulate, so that you do not have to travel to Israel for this. Our office represents non-Israeli fathers wishing to register their paternity in Israel who need to apply to the family court and where the application is made jointly with the mother, or with her consent, no hearing is usually needed at all.

Yes! She can be fined or imprisoned, or both, for contempt of court, subject to an appropriate request being made and such court-ordered sanctions being granted.

In August 2014 the Hadera Family Court in Israel ordered sanctions against a mother who left the country and travelled to Spain with her child in order to escape court-ordered genetic testing in a paternity file filed by the alleged father, a non-Israeli. Although the court said imposing such sanctions was problematic, in this case the mother was represented in the proceedings but had deliberately avoided attending court sessions and now had fled to country to prevent the testing taking place. It ordered her to be jailed for 20 days and fined her 10,000 NIS, saying that these sanctions might actually encourage her to co-operate, and if she did, and informed the court in advance, then it might reconsider the sanction issue. (Family File 56017-01-14).

Yes, in principle, but you will have to apply for an obtain an order from the family court to perform the test first. The Genetic Information Act of 2000 applies to your situation and allows, but regulates, genetic testing, even on a foetus, to prove family connections, unless there is a risk of the child/future child being a ‘bastard’ according to Jewish religious law. In that case, according to a 2008 amendment, such genetic testing is forbidden. As your fiancée is single, then there is no risk involved, as this would only apply to the offspring of a married Jewish woman born out of wedlock.

Wait patiently to see if she files you for paternity. If she does, you can then consider what to do. If you deny paternity, you should co-operate if paternity testing is ordered.

Yes - this is possible! Special procedures exist for obtaining DNA samples for the purposes of paternity proceedings in Israel if the alleged father is overseas.

Paternity testing in Israel is only carried out following a court order and because you are single there should be no bar to performing the test.

Yes, it is possible, according to relevant Israeli Population Registry guidelines, which give the Ministry of Interior discretion to demand a judicial ruling, and even genetic testing, before it will register the paternity of an Israeli father regarding a child born to a non-Israeli mother, in Israel, which would result in the minor being an Israeli citizen. It can only do so if the evidence regarding the existence of a family unit prior to the mother becoming pregnant is either not credible, or is insufficient. In practice, however, the Ministry of Interior may not apply the guidelines properly, and may automatically skip the preliminary stage, without justification.
However, a 2011 Supreme court of Justice ruling in the Weiss petition clarified the position, and emphasized that referral to the family court for a declaration on paternity, should only be necessary, in exceptional circumstances.
Registration problems can be overcome by legal representation, early on, at the Ministry of Interior, which is likely to apply its guidelines more reasonably, where the parties are represented.

Yes – you cannot be forced to co-operate in genetic testing if a paternity suit is filed against you. However, if you refuse to co-operate this can go against you, and the family court hearing the case will be free to draw its conclusions. There have been cases where paternity has been declared by the on the basis of a defendant's refusal to undergo testing.

No ! If you co-operated in the fertility treatment and are registered as the father, you are obliged to support your daughter financially, and cannot free yourself of this legal obligation.

Yes- but it will be much easier if she co-operates and you make a joint application to an Israeli family court for an order for genetic testing to be carried out. Special instructions and arrangements can be made for you to give a DNA sample at an Israeli Consulate/Embassy overseas so that you do not have to travel to Israel especially for this, and wish to carry on travelling aborad.

Paternity testing is only carried out in Israel upon court order. If she does not agree to co-operate, you can still bring the action, but will need to get her basic personal details, including full name, I.D. and address, and date of birth and sex of the child.

Yes – depending upon the credibility and adequacy of the evidence presented by the couple to show that the parties were a family unit before the mother became pregnant. If the court does actually make a positive paternity ruling,and orders the Ministry of Interior to register paternity, on the basis of evidence supplied by the couple, and determines that it did not apply the guidelines properly and reasonably, and should have registered paternity, on the basis of evidence presented, without recourse to the court, it may order costs, in favour of the parents. For example, in November 2013, the Krayot Family Court found that the Ministry of Interior had misapplied the guidelines in relation to a Moldovian mother who given birth to a child from an Israeli citizen, whom she had married in a civil wedding during her pregnancy, after cohabiting with him in Israel prior to that. It ordered the Ministry of Interior to pay the couple 10,000 NIS in legal costs, plus the cost of private medical insurance incurred by the parents, relating to the child, during the 10 month delay in registration of paternity, during which time he was not entitled to public medical care.

This is problematic. You would need to apply for a declaratory judgment declaring your boyfriend to be the father, but the court is unlikely to order genetic testing to establish paternity if you are all Jewish because of possible damage to the child arising from the risk of him/her being a 'bastard' under Jewish law. If your boyfriend were not Jewish, this risk would not apply.

Your boyfriend could apply to adopt the child, and thus by-pass the legal problem. Depending on the circumstances, your 'ex' may be pleased to co-operate, and relieve himself of the financial burden of child support if he knows the child really is not his, if for example, you were separated from him and had no intercourse around the relevant time.

You can apply to the family court for genetic testing to establish whether you are the biological father or not, but this will only be ordered if it is held to be in the child's good. Where both parents are Jewish the court will not order genetic testing because of the risk that the child would be a 'bastard' under Jewish law, and have inferior personal status. Such a risk does not apply in 'mixed' religious marriages, like yours, although the court will have to consider the risk of possible serious emotional damage arising from loss of a 'psychological father' if genetic testing disproved paternity. The court will have to weigh up the conflicting interests of the search for truth and the child's right to know his/her real identity against possible psychological damage.

Yes, you can make a joint application to the family court for genetic testing. D.N.A testing in Israel is only performed in accordance with a court order. There is no problem in getting such an order where two singles are involved.

Yes! In December 2011 Tel Aviv Family Court accepted a plea by a man for the cancellation of a paternity judgment against him made over 13 years previously, after further D.N.A. tests conducted in different hospitals, and an expert opinion,submitted to court,proved that the results of the original test,upon which the paternity ruling was based, was erroneous.

Paternity testing can only be carried out if ordered by a court. If all the parties concerned are in agreement, and you are single, there should be no reason for it to refuse. You can either initiate the paternity action, with your two friends as defendants, who can consent to testing later after the file is opened, or the three of you can make a joint paternity application from the start.

File him simultaneously for paternity and child maintenance at the family court. You can ask for genetic testing to prove he is the biological father. Without establishing paternity, you cannot get financial support from him for your child. Once paternity is established, he is legally obliged to support your mutual, even if got you pregnant unintentionally and is not interested in having any contact.

Firstly, D.N.A testing to establish paternity is only carried out in Israel upon court order, according to the conditions set out by relevant legislation and where there is no prohibition (such as risk of illegitimacy under religious law) or where it would not be detrimental to the child’s good from the outset. Each case is decided on its own merits, but in principle, the chances of a court ordering genetic testing designed from the outset to rule out paternity of a man who has been registered as the father of a child for many years, are not high.

For example, in October 2016, adopting the clear recommendations of welfare reports, Nazareth Family Court rejected the request of a married Jewish man to carry out paternity testing regarding a child, now approaching adolescence, born to a divorced non-Jewish woman, with whom he had a relationship, and who was registered in the child's birth certificate, although there was no contact between them. The court held that it was in the child’s best interests (the overriding factor) not to change the status quo, because there was nothing to be gained, from the minor’s point of view, from testing, only possible harm, as if the test result proved negative, it would not establish his real father’s identity anyhow, and could worsen the child’s already problematic emotional state.

Having said this, in general, where paternity testing is permitted, it will result in an obligation to pay child support, if the result is positive, but not if the result is negative.

Yes, though generally courts give preference to a woman's right to have sovreignity over her body and to make decisions about her body,and pregnancy, as opposed to the rights of her male partner,whose opinions may clash with hers.

Legally speaking, it is possible for an intended father to apply and even obtain a court order preventing his pregnant girlfriend from having an abortion, for which the foetus is appointed a guardian, to protect its rights, in your case it may not be possible in such an early stage of pregnancy. The court would have to decide at the outset, when legal proceedings are brought before it, whether the embryo/foetus is sufficiently mature to be capable of life and of having legal rights.

No, definitely not! If he is the biological father, then, under Israeli law, he is liable financially for supporting the child, even if the woman gives him a promise otherwise, orally or in writing. Such 'promises' or agreements between them do not bind the child, who is free to file his/her independent plea for child support via his biological mother, his natural guardian.