Contractual Marriage Agreements and Ceremonies

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. Yet, as common-law couples, they are entitled to nearly the same status and rights as married couples, without the disadvantages of religious jurisdiction over their union,

New Family’s contractual marriage agreements divide rights, responsibilities and assets fairly between partners and ensure women equal status. They ensure that the rights and dignities of both partners are equally protected and they have reached an informed agreement.  Contractual marriage agreements are written 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 agreements once agreement has been reached between spouses 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, hear the case. Contractual Marriage can be confirmed in court to carry the authority of a court ruling.

Contractual marriages can be celebrated in any way that the couple chooses. A small ceremony can be held at New Family’s Family Rights Center, 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 Domestic Union Cards™, which enable them to present proof of their status as partners without exposing their personal legal agreement.