Parents are the natural guardians of their children, during the period of childhood, until the age of 18. The significance of this is that by law, parents are automatically the guardians of their children until the children reach the age of 18.
- The assumption is that parents will act with their children's best interest in mind and will therefore make proper decisions on their behalf.
- Parents are given the fundamental right of autonomy in raising their children without external intervention. Therefore, under normal circumstances, the state does not interfere with parental discretion as part of their role as their children's natural guardians.
- There are situations in which the state does intervene, such as when parents are not fulfilling their role properly.
Parental Obligations as Guardians
- The parental obligation as guardians includes the obligation and the right to care for the needs of their minor children.
- According to the law, a minor's needs include education, and have also been established as including needs related to medical care.
- It is illegal to perform medical treatment without the consent of the patient. When the patient is a minor, the informed consent of the parents must be obtained for the treatment.
- Parents must act with the best interest of their children in mind, as dedicated parents would act under normal circumstances. This principle is also valid with regard to medical treatment, and parents must act with the best interest of their children in mind, and they are not permitted to refuse medical treatment if it is to the children's benefit.
- Regarding any issue related to guardianship, both parents must act in agreement.
- Each parent's consent to the other's actions may be provided in advance or retroactively, expressly or implicitly, regarding specific issues or in general. It is assumed that the actions of one parent are performed with the agreement of the other unless proven to the contrary.
- When dealing with an urgent matter, each parent is entitled to act alone.
- When a minor's parents do not live together, they may agree between them who will serve as the minor's guardian, completely or partially. This agreement requires court approval, and the court will approve such an agreement after it has been proven that the agreement is for the benefit of the minor. If the parents have not reached an agreement and remain divided over the issue of guardianship, the court will decide. Even if one parent has physical custody over the child, the rest of the issues related to guardianship can still be joint.
- The parent of a minor may request to receive a copy of information from a medical facility (or any other institution legally required to provide information about a child to that child's parents) separately from the child's other parent.
Cases in which the Court will appoint a guardian
- There are cases in which parents' natural guardianship is revoked, even if the child is still a minor (under the age of 18), and a guardian is appointed for the child.
- By law, a court may appoint a guardian for a minor when:
- Both of the child's parents have died, been declared legally incompetent, their guardianship has been revoked according to the law, they are not fit to fulfill their obligations to the child, or have refrained from fulfilling their obligations without reasonable cause. The court will only revoke a parent's guardianship over a child if all of these conditions have been met according to the law. This is an unusual situation.
- Appointment of a guardian in addition to a parent - When one of a minor child's parents has died, the other parent is the child's guardian. The court may appoint a guardian in addition to the remaining parent, as a general guardian or for specific issues determined by the court. If, according to the cases described above, one parent has been declared incompetent, incapable of fulfilling parental obligations, or if guardianship has been restricted. The court will not appoint another guardian in addition to the other parent, unless it sees a special reason for such for the benefit of the child, and only after the parent has been given an opportunity to be heard.
- In cases of same sex couples who are raising a child together, the court may appoint the spouse of the biological parent as the child's guardian.
- The court prefers to appoint a suitable person as a guardian who is a relative of the child, unless it finds that under the circumstances it would be for the benefit of the minor to appoint a guardian who is not a relative.
- For grown children (above the age of 18) who cannot handle their own affairs, see: Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities.
Who can be appointed as a Guardian
- The court will appoint whoever seems to be the most appropriate choice for the benefit of the minor given the specific circumstances. Any of the following may be appointed to be a guardian: individuals, corporations, or the Guardian General.
- When appointing a guardian for a minor, preference will be given to family members of the child, unless the court has determined that given the circumstances, it is in the child's interest to appoint someone who is not a family member. (A "family member" is considered to be a brother, sister grandparent, aunt, uncle, step-mother or step-father.)
- Before the appointment, the court will hear from the parent and the ward (child), if he/she is capable of understanding the proceedings and expressing an opinion.
For details of the process see Appointment of a Guardian.
- Medical care of a minor without parental consent
- A same-sex partner may be appointed to be a guardian for their partner's children
- Ministry of Justice
- The Administrator General- Representative Attorney regarding matters of guardianship
- Family Courts
- Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services
- Ministry of Health Israel
Laws and Regulations
- Ministry of Justice: Information about requesting appointment of a guardian over person/property
- Original content written by the IMA.
- English translation and maintenance by The Shira Pransky Project.