When “Mixed” Marriages Fall Apart: A Socio-Legal Perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article sheds light on the socio-legal implications of the dissolution of “mixed” marriages. By analyzing two legal cases decided by Israeli shari‘a and civil courts, the article shows how such dissolution transforms the map of social conflicts and coalitions that was formed when the marital union was established. It illustrates how the ex-spouses’ families and communities are drawn into the custody struggles following the divorce, and how communal/religious courts may side with the spouse of the same community/religion. It argues that ex-spouses who converted to their partners’ religion–more often women than men–might be disadvantaged by this situation, and demonstrates how courts and parties to the postmarital intercommunal conflict infuse the concept of the “child’s best interests” with diverse cultural meanings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-329
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Israeli History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Earlier versions of the article were presented at the study group, A Rising Wave: Mixed Families in Israel, which convened in Tel Aviv University during the years 2015-2016, and at the workshop, Gender and Sharīʿah in Muslim Legal Theory and Practice: the case of Israel and Palestine, University of Gottingen, October 12-14 2017. I am grateful for the input of the participants in these two workshops, which helped me tremendously in elaborating my arguments in this paper. In writing the article I also benefitted greatly from input by Tamar Parush, Ursula Woköck, Moussa Abou Ramadan, Imen Gallala-Arndt, Uriel Simonsohn, and Sylvia Fogel-Bijaoui. I also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of JIH for their useful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • High Court of Justice
  • Interfaith marriage
  • Israel
  • custody
  • divorce
  • shari‘a courts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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