One of if not the most important issue that you and your spouse face is the issue of which of you the children will live with. Who gets custody over the minor children under Israeli law depends upon a number of determining factors. Both the rabbinic courts and the family courts use similar criteria in making their decisions regarding minor children, although in the rabbinic court there is more precedent given to the concept of older children (over age 15) living with the parent of the same sex, all other issues being equal.
The process works as follows: In the event that there is a divorce agreement between the parties, then the court will look to the divorce agreement regarding custody. The court will almost always authorize the custody arrangements in the divorce agreement and give a judgment to this effect.
If the parents do not agree on custody, or if the custody issues in the divorce agreement are not carried out, then the court has the power to decide on custody and visitation rights instead. The court’s measuring factor is the “welfare of the child”. As a practical matter, when the children are over the age of 10, this is usually evaluated by taking into account the children’s rights and wishes. Generally, children below the age of 6 are awarded to their mother’s custody unless there are exceptional circumstances warranting otherwise. The court may appoint a professional (usually a psychologist or social worker) to make a report and to make recommendations regarding the children’s custody. Also, the parents may have to take a “parental capability” test. Although the court is usually influenced heavily by these reports, and it usually adopts their recommendations, it is under no legal obligation to do so.