My husband and I are Christians, members of the same faith. We were married in church in England. We no longer regard ourselves as religious, and do not practice our faith at all. Can we go through a civil process to end our marriage in Israel, or do we still have to go through the church ?
By: דיאנה שאלתיאל•Published on: 09 May, 2022
Only certain Christian faiths are recognised in Israel, and have their own religious courts having jurisdiction over marriage and divorce of members of their faith. If a married Christian couple are members of a faith that is not recognised in Israel and does not have its own court system (e.g. if they are Protestants) then their only option to divorce in Israel is civil – via the dissolution of marriage process
If, however, they are members of a recognised faith ( e.g. they are Roman Catholics), then in principle the court system of their particular church will have jurisdiction over their divorce. The test for religious affiliation is objective and not subjective . In other words if they remain catholic after being born Catholics, being baptised and married in the Catholic church and never cease to be members of the faith, they are still objectively speaking Catholics. This is so even if they,subjectively, considered themselves to have no religion. Jurisdiction over their divorce will lie with the Roman Catholic court, and not the civil court system. This was held so by the President of the Supreme Court in the Bloch Case in the eighties. This stated the President had no jurisdiction to rule on which court should deal with an application to end the marriage of two Roman Catholics who announced that they had no religion but who had done nothing active to convert or stop becoming members of the church.