I feel at a great disadvantage in the divorce proceedings my husband has started against me. He has got a top-notch lawyer and I have no legal representation. I am an immigrant and my command of Hebrew is very basic . I can’t really express myself well and put my case in court. I am worried that I am going to get a really raw deal because of this. This seems unfair. Is there any legal ruling on the issue of legal representation ?By: דיאנה שאלתיאל•Published on: 10 May, 2022
The Supreme Court has held that there is an obligation for both sides to be represented in family law proceedings which called ‘the law of human souls’. It did so when faced with a wife’s plea for permission to appeal against a District Court decision upholding a family court decision to divide partnership in the family home. The appellant was unrepresented and her husband was represented; the family court had appointed his lawyer to act as receiver of the family home, registered in joint names, and to undertake its sale and the division of the proceeds.
When faced with a plea to divide up the family home, a court should be doubly cautious in weighing up its findings before it draws its conclusions, the Supreme Court held. That obligation cannot be exercised where there is extreme inequality between the parties as to legal representation, when one is represented by an experienced lawyer and the other, unrepresented, pleads in layman’s language. The legislator recognized the need for people accused of crimes to be represented – and there is justification that it should recognize this right of representation in relation to family law proceedings, the judgment held.
Accepting the appeal, the Supreme Court cancelled the decisions of both the family and the district court, and sent the case back to the former so that it could carry on hearing the case after the wife had obtained a lawyer.