Contractual Marriage, known as ‘nisuei hoze’ in Hebrew, confers couples that can’t or don’t want to marry with the Orthodox religious rites required for government recognition legal status and rights as common-law spouses equal to married couples.
Contractual Marriage agreements are recognized as proof of common-law status in Israeli institutions but are not accepted by the Ministry of Interior as proof as marriage. The Ministry of the Interior can change a person’s marital status only by request of the Rabbinate, the religious establishment. The Rabbinate is the only body in Israel authorized to declare or change personal status. Contractual Marriage agreements do not change the holders’ marital status, and the partners will remain officially unmarried.
Contractual marriage agreements divide rights, responsibilities and assets fairly between partners and ensure women equal status. New Family’s contractual marriage agreements ensure that the rights and dignities of both partners are equally protected and they have reached an informed agreement. They are drawn up by one of our attorneys following a series of consultations with the partners at our Family Rights Center in Tel Aviv on all the legal issues. Our attorney only writes up agreements once agreement has been reached between spouses on the issues and does not represent one party against another in a court of law.
Contractual marriage agreements serve as proof of status as common-law spouses and confer couples rights and status equal to married couples in most Israeli government agencies and many private institutions. Institutions that recognize contractual marriage agreements include 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.
Contractual marriage provides women an egalitarian alternative to orthodox religious marriage that discriminates against women in status and rights by circumventing the religious jurisdiction over the couple. In case of separation, contractual marriage agreements guarantee women fair custody and child support arrangements without subjecting women to pressure or extortion characteristic of religious divorce and ensure that she can never become an ‘agunah’, a ‘chained’ woman refused a divorce. New Family always recommends inserting a clause into legal agreements between partners, married and unmarried, that in case of separation, the civil Family Court and not the Religious Court, be given jurisdiction to hear the case. Contractual Marriage can be confirmed in court to carry the authority of a court ruling.
Contractual marriage agreements can be celebrated in any way that the couple chooses. A small ceremony can be held at New Family’s Family Rights Center with a few guests, or a New Family attorney can perform a civil commitment ceremony in front of hundreds of guests at a more traditional wedding celebration.
Couples often choose to supplement their contractual marriage agreements with Common-Law Marriage ID’s, which enable them to present proof of their status as partners without exposing their personal legal agreement.
A non-exhaustive list of uses of Contractual Marriage and Common-Law ID Cards is found below.
§ 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)