Domestic Union Cards™ are picture identification cards that entitle couples to legal status and rights equal to married couples on the basis of a legal affidavit that its holders are common-law spouses. They serve as legal proof of couples’ status as common-law spouses in most institutions in Israel and many abroad. Domestic Union Cards™ provide an egalitarian alternative to orthodox religious marriage that discriminates against women in status and rights by circumventing the religious jurisdiction over the couple. Because the only recognized marriages in Israel are Orthodox religious unions by a man and a woman of the same religion and nationality, or foreign civil marriages, Domestic Union Card’s™ are not recognized as marriage. Domestic Union Cards™ do not change your official marital status and holders are listed as ‘single’ in the Interior Ministry.
New Family will issue Domestic Union Cards™ to two adult partners of any gender, religion or nationality that meet the legal definition of common-law spouses in Israel. The couple must live together and share financial responsibilities as a family unit. They must declare their exclusive commitment to one another and affirm that they are not married to anybody else and do not share a household with a different partner in a legal affidavit signed in front of one of New Family’s attorneys. The partners are photographed separately and issued their individual picture ID’s on the spot.
Domestic Union Cards™ are recognized in most of Israel’s government institutions and many private institutions, including social security, government ministries, municipal governments, health clinics, hospitals, the post office, banks, insurance companies, colleges and universities, health clubs, national parks and recreational facilities. Common-Law couples are often referred by government agencies to New Family to get Common-Law Domestic Union Card’s™ to prove their eligibility for status and rights as a family.
Domestic Union Cards™ can help non-Israeli spouses get legal status in Israel on the basis of their common-law relationship and assist in the process of attaining residency status for a foreign spouse by substantiating their claims of a genuine relationship. The Ministry of the Interior grants legal status to foreign spouses of couples they believe to be in an authentic relationship regardless of the couple’s marital status. Residency and naturalization processes take 5-7 years, with a longer process for common-law couples than for married couples. A foreign civil marriage does not automatically guarantee that the foreign spouse will get legal status in Israel if the Interior Ministry is not convinced that the relationship is genuine, and it does not necessarily help your case to marry abroad.
If a couple that holds Domestic Union Cards™ separates, they must inform New Family of their change in status. They are also obligated to inform the relevant government authorities of their change in status if they are receiving benefits as a couple or if one of the spouses is in the process of immigration or naturalization on the basis of their status as a couple. No divorce procedure is required, and the couple does not need to inform any religious authorities.
Domestic Union Cards™ are recognized internationally as a legal affidavit. Domestic Union Cards™ can also be issued in English. They can be used in foreign countries to prove your status as a couple, for example, if you plan to work or study abroad and need to prove that your spouse should be given a visa or campus housing, or if you want to get visas or status together as a family elsewhere in the world.
Domestic Union Cards™ received an international prize for exemplary legal innovation. In January 2009, New Family became the first Israeli organization to win the Hubbard One Marketing Initiative of the Year when the Domestic Union Cards™ was chosen as the most outstanding legal marketing initiative of 2009.
The following is a non-exhaustive sample list of uses of Domestic Union Card’s™ in Israel’s institutions.
§ Picking up partner’s mail.
§ Paying bills for your partner.
Ministry of the Interior:
§ Substantiating eligibility for foreign spouses to gain legal status as a resident of Israel on the basis of a common-law relationship.
Health clinics (Kupat Holim) & Hospitals:
§ Getting prescriptions for your partner.
§ Getting medical information about your partner.
§ Making appointments for your partner.
§ Being consulted about medical decisions in case of emergency.
§ Being admitted to your partner’s hospital room or medical procedure.
§ Eligibility for fertility treatments as a couple.
§ Being admitted into the delivery room if your female partner gives birth to a baby.
§ Easing the burden of proof of paternity if you’re not married to your child’s mother.
Social Security (Bituach Leumi):
§ Proving eligibility for inheritance and survivors benefits in case of death of partner.
§ Proving eligibility to share maternity leave.
Ministry of Housing:
§ Proving eligibility for public housing or a subsidized mortgage like a married couple.
Ministry of Transportation:
§ Transferring ownership over a car to your partner without being considered a new owner, the maintaining car’s value.
§ Getting information about partner’s drivers license.
§ Reductions in inheritance taxes for sharing with your partner.
§ Transferring property rights on your shared home to your partner without taxes.
§ Proving eligibility for a mortgage as a couple.
§ Getting information or being a signatory on a shared account.
Local Government (Iriah/Moatza):
§ Eligibility for family discounts
§ Parking permits as a family.
§ Paying partners’ property taxes (arnona) and bills.
§ Recognition as your partner for life insurance purposes.
§ Eligibility for family memberships.
Colleges and Universities
§ Proving eligibility for married-student housing. (Conditional on individual institution’s policy)