Navigating Divorce with Sensitivity

Attorney Hagit Lev has been a family and general mediator for 18 years, and she is trained in facilitating cooperation in divorce. She is a member of the Commission for Family Affairs and of the
False Complaints Committee of the Israel Bar Association. She also lectures on family law and mediation at the College of Management, and serves as an external professional consultant to Knesset committees that examine the crisis of the nuclear family in Israel. She is one of the leading attorneys in the field of family law.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I have been fighting for justice and the welfare of others from a very young age. Classmates wrote in my yearbook that I would become a lawyer! During school vacations, I would get on the bus by myself to go listen to discussions in the courthouse. It’s my calling.

Why family law?
I’m a very empathetic and emotionally sensitive person. I understand what my clients are going through and I know how to help them. What’s more, I care a lot about children. In the cases we deal with in the family courts, children are often caught in painful situations, and I want to do everything I can to protect them from emotional and physical harm.

What areas in family law do you deal with?
My main area of expertise is divorce, but in order to deal with family law, you have to have a good grasp of many other areas in law because everything is connected. Business, real estate, investment, finances, custody, inheritance—these are all things that come into play in divorce and I need to have a solid
background in these areas as well, so I make sure I have that background.

What’s your main strategy for dealing with money in divorce cases?
There is a lot of money involved in divorce, and it can take a long time to investigate the couple’s finances. My strategy is to take care of it as quickly as possible. These investigations can drag out and it’s a drain on everyone’s time and energy; the people who suffer the most are the children.

Do you bring in other professionals to help clients cope with the emotional difficulties of divorce?
It would be unethical for us to bring other professionals, as we are required to maintain confidentiality. However, we do recommend enlisting the services of other professionals. For example, sometimes parents have trouble figuring out how to approach their children with the news that they’re getting divorced, and in that case we may recommend seeing a parenting counselor. Life coaches and therapists can also provide some much-needed support.

What’s the most diŒffcult part of putting together an agreement that is fair to both sides?
Well, I don’t represent both sides at once; I represent one side and advocate for that individual’s interests. Obviously, the ideal would be to find an agreement that is fair to both sides, for the sake of integrity and most of all,for the sake of the children. That said, the part I find most difficult to work out is division of custody.

How do you keep up-to-date with developments in your field?

Great question! I attend workshops and seminars often, and I make a point of reading court verdicts on other cases, to get a feel for the character of each of the judges.
Verdicts are usually the result of an interpretation rather than a direct application of the law. Getting an idea of how judges interpret the law, can help me figure out how best to approach them when we meet
in court.

Do you work with foreign clients?
Yes—mostly Jews and Israelis living abroad. I’ve worked with people from all over—Manchester, New York, Sydney. I help protect rights relating to wills.

How did you get into parliamentary activism at the Knesset?
As mentioned, I started to attend conferences, and to speak at them, and people started to approach me. At the beginning, men’s rights organizations approached me, asking for help in the Knesset, and then women did as well. Drawing on my 18 years of experience as a professional, I helped update the laws
around pension distribution and custody. It’s important for me to emphasize that I don’t represent any political party or agenda; I’m an independent professional advisor to Knesset committees.

What do you find most challenging in your work?
Because it’s family law, the most challenging aspect is to keep everyone sane—including the people I’m not representing. It’s an extremely sensitive process and it’s very easy for people to get hurt.

And what is the most satisfying?
Helping a couple navigate this vulnerable situation and come out of it with minimal damage and maximum care and support for themselves, each other and the children caught in the middle.

Hagit Lev Law Office provides comprehensive and sensitive legal services to clients before, during or after the process of divorce. They advocate an approach that manages the process with determination and wisdom, so clients can get what they deserve without hurting the people who are important to them.

Hagit can be contacted at 050-240-4055, or through her website

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