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Israel: Grandparents’ Rights

(Aug. 3, 2012) On July 10, 2012, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed the Capacity and Guardianship Law (Amendment No. 17) 5772-2012. The amendment authorizes courts to hear and make decisions on requests submitted by grandparents regarding contact with their grandchildren. According to the amendment, in deciding on such requests, the court must consider the best interests of the child. (Capacity and Guardianship Law (Amendment No. 17) 5772-2012 [in Hebrew], the Knesset website (last visited July 26, 2012).)

According to explanatory notes on the draft amendment, the Capacity and Guardianship Law, 5722-1962, as amended, had already established the “status of relatives,” not only grandparents, by authorizing courts to “hear the visitation requests of relatives of the minor, legally incompetent person, or ward, whenever the court thinks fit to do so.” (Draft Capacity and Guardianship Law Bill (Amendment No. 17) [on the contact between a minor and the parents of his parents] 5772-2012, HATZA'OT HOK [Bills] 1202, p. 434; Capacity and Guardianship Law, 5722-1962, 16 LAWS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL 106 (5722-1961/62).

Based on a 1976 amendment to the Law, a special provision titled “the rights of parents of the deceased” was added as section 28a. The provision authorized a court “to provide instructions” regarding the contact between the parents of a deceased person and his minor child. This provision was added after the 1973 Yom Kippur war to address situations in which widows of veterans severed relations with their deceased husbands' parents and did not allow their children to meet with them. (Capacity and Guardianship Law (Amendment No. 4) 5736-1975, SEFER HAHUKIM [Book of Laws, Israel's official gazette], No. 790, at 49 (1976).)

The objective of the 2012 amendment is to expressly authorize a court to also issue orders on the contact between a minor and his/her grandparents in circumstances that do not necessarily involve a parent who is deceased. (Capacity and Guardianship Law (Amendment No. 17) 5772-2012, supra.)

The authorization of a court to make a determination on the contact between a minor and his/her grandparents adds to a previously available remedy under section 68 of the Law, as amended, which authorizes the court to take temporary or permanent measures as appropriate for protecting the interests of a minor. (Capacity and Guardianship Law, 5722-1962, supra.)