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Article Israeli Family Court Recognizes Claim for Emotional Distress for "Forced Fatherhood"

(Sept. 21, 2018) On September 4, 2018, the Tel Aviv Family Court partially accepted a suit by a plaintiff who claimed that the defendant had harmed him by conceiving and giving birth to twins following sexual contact with her. He alleged that the defendant had deliberately seduced him to engage in sex with her on her ovulation day, telling him that she was using an intrauterine device (IUD) and was not interested in an additional pregnancy as she already had three children. Describing the suit, the decision’s introductory notes state that the decision “deals with a determination in a lawsuit filed by the plaintiff against the defendant that was essentially defined as [being based on] tort, fraud, robbery, semen theft, contractual negligence, monetary and nonmonetary damage.” (FamC (TA) 33934-08-17 Anonymous v. Anonymous, intro. notes (Sept. 4, 2018) (decision by Judge Shifra Glick), Takdin Legal Database (in Hebrew, all translations by author) (by subscription).)

Evidentiary Determinations

On the basis of the evidence submitted, Judge Shifra Glick determined that the defendant had been dishonest with the plaintiff, had asked him not to use contraceptives, and had told him that she was using an IUD, thereby “making the plaintiff a parent against his will.” (Id. ¶ 30.)

Legal Holdings

On the Issue of “Semen Theft”

Judge Glick rejected the plaintiff’s suit for financial compensation at the rate of child support levied against him and held that such compensation conflicted with the principle of the “best interest of the child.” (Id. ¶¶ 33–42.) Additionally, she opined that, “[i]n general, the claim of “semen theft” was accepted in decisions in the United States on a limited basis, and in Israel in limited cases and under exceptional circumstances, where the pregnancy did not derive from sexual relations, but from use of a man’s semen without his knowledge and consent … and this is a different case from the [current] case.” (Id. ¶ 40.)

Regarding Plaintiff’s Allegation of “Violation of a Contract”

Judge Glick also rejected the plaintiff’s claim for breach of contract. In her opinion, the relationship between the parties did not constitute a “contract” as they did not intend to engage in a binding contractual relationship. Their relationship, she held, was merely “random and casual contact.” (Id. ¶ 45.2.)

Additionally, she decided that, “[t]he fact that the defendant was willing to undergo an abortion [subject to payment of a large amount of money] (that was not possible for health reasons) also indicates a lack of willingness for a binding relationship.” (Id. ¶ 45.3.)

Claim of Robbery

Noting that the plaintiff had withdrawn this claim, Judge Glick added in an obiter dictum that such a claim cannot stand on its own. She noted that similar suits in the United States, for example, had been rejected on the grounds that a person cannot be awarded financial compensation for the birth of a healthy child. (Id. ¶¶ 49–50.)


Similarly rejecting the claim of negligence, Judge Glick cited the following writing of an Israeli legal scholar:

Needless to say that imposing tort obligation for misrepresentation on the basis of negligence raises difficult questions of legal policy, but even if we accept in principle extending tort liability for negligent misrepresentations, one needs to distinguish between random and casual contacts and permanent and lasting relationships, and conclude that there existed a duty of caution only in the latter case. (Prof. Shifman, A Parent Against His Will – Misrepresentation Regarding the Use of Contraceptives, 18 Mishpatim 459, at 479 (in Hebrew).)


The mere factual recognition of the existence of fraud, Judge Glick opined, does not result in establishing liability when the result is giving life to a healthy baby. This conclusion is even truer, she held, when the alleged monetary harm is the rate of support allocated to minors. (Id. ¶¶ 59–60.)

Compensation for Nonmonetary Damages

Judge Glick identified only one case where an Israeli court had previously awarded compensation based on a claim of “semen theft.” Unlike in the current case, however, the plaintiff was Haredi (an ultra-Orthodox Jew), according to whose beliefs bringing a child into the world outside of marriage was sinful. Additionally, in that case the plaintiff donated the semen for the purpose of in vitro fertilization and did not know that the defendant had received an egg donation for the purpose of in vitro fertilization outside of Israel. (Id. ¶ 65 (referring to FamC (Jer) 22317-08-11 M.V. v. Z.S.V. (Apr. 21, 2013) (decision by Judge Nimrod Flex), Nevo Legal Database (in Hebrew) (by subscription).)

In the current case, Judge Glick concluded, the plaintiff was willing to have sexual contact “not in the context of spousal relationship and purely for pleasure” and was aware of the need to use contraceptives. Nevertheless, she opined, it was unreasonable to let the defendant avoid any responsibility for having intentionally lied to the plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 71.) She therefore recognized that the plaintiff incurred emotional distress by becoming a father against his will. Considering the circumstances, however, she imposed a limited amount of compensation (40,000 new Israeli shekels, about US$11,160) to be paid to him by the defendant. (Case 33934-08-17, ¶¶ 68–72.)

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Levush, Ruth. Israeli Family Court Recognizes Claim for Emotional Distress for "Forced Fatherhood". 2018. Web Page.

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