Prenuptial Agreement Attorney Helping Clients Protect Their Futures
Deciding to get married is often a joyous moment for couples. You may be excitedly planning your future together and looking forward to the happy changes in your life. At this time, preparing for the possibility that things may not work out as well as you are hoping may feel a bit deflating. However, creating a well-crafted prenuptial agreement can actually provide strength and stability to your marriage because it ensures that you are both on the same page and understand what is at stake if you are unable to solve any marital problems that may arise. It also makes a divorce less costly and lengthy if you decide that splitting is your best option in the future.
Creating a careful, valid prenuptial agreement that accounts for all the issues a married couple may face when going through a divorce can be a complex legal process. The services of an experienced, knowledgeable prenuptial agreements lawyer are often invaluable. Hait Family Law can help you craft and organize this important document that you hopefully never use. Contact our Tel Aviv office today at (077) 200 8161 to learn how we can assist you in the planning process as you enter this new phase of your life.
Why Are More Couples Signing Prenups?
The prenup has become more accepted and common among prospective Israeli couples than ever before. At one time, prenups were mostly limited to wealthy individuals, but now people of all economic classes are choosing to take a pragmatic view of the financial realities of marriage and divorce. No one goes into a marriage expecting to get divorced, but everyone is aware that it can happen, and more couples are attempting to prepare for that possibility.
In the past few decades, the average age of couples entering their first marriage in Israel has increased. Today’s couples enter relationships with more assets than ever before and have shown a desire to ensure continued financial stability for themselves and their children if their marriage ends. Many have also found that a prenup provides peace of mind and can prevent disagreements over economic issues within the marriage. Paradoxically, this document typically meant to be used after a marriage’s collapse, can help bolster the relationship’s strength.
Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
There is no requirement for Israeli couples to create a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage; however, it does have many advantages. Israel has a unique legal system, which can make divorces very complex. Some aspects of a Jewish divorce, such as child custody, child support, and the division of marital assets, can be handled by either the Family Court or the Rabbinical Court. However, the Rabbinical Court must always oversee the GET, the religious divorce document given to a wife by her husband. Without a GET, a divorce cannot be finalized, and you are still legally married.
For Anglo-Jewish individuals, this legal system can be challenging and confusing to navigate. Divorces can become expensive and time-consuming as you try to work out the details of untangling your lives. A prenuptial agreement simplifies the process and ensures that you have a say in the terms of your divorce rather than leaving important decisions to the courts.
While anyone can make a prenuptial agreement, some couples may benefit greatly from the legal clarity provided by this financial agreement, including:
- Couples involved in joint or separate business ventures
- Couples where one spouse enters the relationship with significant assets, debts, or a vastly larger income
- Couples who anticipate a substantial inheritance for one spouse
- Couples who own property or assets in multiple countries
- Couples who have complex tax planning or other financial needs
- Same-sex couples or cohabiting (“known in public”) couples who may not have the same legal protections as other married couples under Israeli law
How Are Assets Divided in a Divorce if You Do Not Have a Prenuptial Agreement?
Ideally, if you do not have a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse will be able to arrange your own division of assets by negotiating a divorce agreement with the help of a lawyer or mediator. A divorce agreement is very similar in content to a prenuptial agreement, except it is created after the couple has decided to end their marriage. Sadly, many marriages do not end on good terms, and the couple may be unable or unwilling to negotiate an agreement.
Israeli law uses a “resources balancing arrangement” as a default method to divide property between the ex-spouses if a couple cannot reach a mutual divorce agreement. All joint property accumulated during the marriage will be divided equally. Even if only one spouse worked or handled the finances during the duration of the marriage, the law views a married couple as a unit that mutually worked toward the same goals. Hence, they both have an equal right to jointly acquired property and assets. Common property that the court will divide includes:
- Property purchased during your marriage, including vehicles, homes, and businesses.
- Financial assets, such as investments, savings, and bonds.
- Retirement funds earned while married, excluding pensions.
While the court has the right to regulate property you accumulated while married, any assets you owned before the marriage and kept separate will likely not be included in the divorce. Other assets that may be excluded from the division of property are the following:
- Certain inheritances and gifts given to one spouse, if they have been managed separately.
- Pensions, such as disability, old age, and widow’s pensions.
How Do You Create a Valid Prenuptial Agreement?
The first step to writing a solid prenuptial agreement is to sit down with a knowledgeable family law attorney to discuss your situation, wants, and needs. This document is not one-size-fits-all. It has to be tailored to meet your unique circumstances, so you are both prepared and protected in the event of a divorce. Your attorney will carefully write a legal document that will act as your financial agreement for the division of assets if you should decide to divorce. Depending on your needs, you may also choose to add other topics and considerations.
Once the document is written, you should review it carefully with your lawyer to be sure that you fully understand the information it contains. If you wish to have any modifications made, this is the time to discuss them. If you are satisfied with the agreement, you can sign the document in the presence of your lawyer to show your approval.
However, the process does not end here. For the prenuptial agreement to be valid, it must be presented to the Family Court for authorization. The court will carefully examine the document to ensure that it meets legal standards and it does not appear that one party is being unfairly treated by the agreement. If the court is satisfied, they will approve the document and it will go into effect if the couple ever begins divorce proceedings.
Can Non-Financial Agreements Be Included in a Prenup?
While many couples use prenuptial agreements to ensure they have a plan for dividing the joint property they’ve accumulated if the marriage does not work out, the prenup does not have to be a purely financial agreement. Division of property and financial issues are only one aspect of a divorce. Your lawyer can help you decide which subjects should be included in your agreement. To create the most useful and robust prenuptial agreement, you should consider and plan for the full scope of potential disagreements that could arise during the marriage or divorce process, including:
- Care of future children: Many couples intend to have children as part of their marriage. Although it may feel overwhelming to create a plan now for children who have not been born yet, it can be a gift to your future family to have these issues organized in your prenuptial agreement. While you hope never to need your prenup, having it in place can make the divorce process smoother and provide stability for your children during a challenging time.
- Non-material property rights: Sometimes, couples may share less tangible assets that are not easily assigned a monetary value. For example, you may have written a book or a song together or invented a new product that entitles you to intellectual property rights. Or maybe you want to ensure that you retain decision-making privileges in a joint business venture. These issues can quickly complicate a divorce, so it is best to address these topics in your prenuptial agreement to avoid difficulties down the road.
- Agreement to give a GET: As mentioned above, a Jewish divorce in Israel requires approval from the Rabbinical court. For this approval to be granted, both parties must agree to the divorce, and the husband must give his wife a GET. Sometimes, one spouse refuses to consent to the divorce, preventing the other spouse from leaving the marriage. Some modern Jewish couples have been including a so-called “Liebermann Clause ” in their prenups or wedding contracts, or using a prenup document known as “The Agreement for Mutual Respect” (Heskem L’kahvod Hadadi). The Liebermann Clause is used in the US and states that if divorce proceedings happen, the husband will grant his wife a GET, and she agrees to accept it. “The Agreement for Mutual Respect” states that a husband will pay hefty spousal support to his wife if they are separated, which provides him with a strong financial incentive to give her a GET. These methods to prevent GET refusal have sparked some religious and legal debate, so discussing them thoroughly with a knowledgeable lawyer and/or Rabbi is recommended to understand the implications.
Can You Alter or Cancel a Prenuptial Agreement Once It Has Been Approved?
The creation of a prenuptial agreement should not be undertaken lightly. Once a prenup has been signed by both parties and finalized by the court, it is a binding document. A prenuptial agreement holds the same validity and legal enforceability as a court ruling. It can be incredibly difficult to change or cancel your agreement at a later date, so having skilled legal counsel to help you make the best possible choices at the time of its writing is crucial.
Generally, the court will only cancel a prenuptial agreement under very limited circumstances, such as:
- One spouse was coerced or pressured into signing the agreement.
- The document was not intelligible to the signer. For example, if it was written in a language the signer did not understand, and a proper translation was not given.
- The signer was not mentally capable of comprehending the terms and implications of the agreement.
How Can an Experienced Prenuptial Agreements Lawyer Help You?
A prenuptial agreement is a valuable legal document allowing you to settle future property division and financial matters before your marriage. However, it can be challenging to envision how the future might look when you are just beginning your life as a couple. Hait Family Law has experience guiding couples through the prenuptial agreement process and ensuring they consider every eventuality. Contact our office today at (077) 200 8161 to schedule a consultation with a compassionate and skilled family law attorney who can assist you.
preventing him from leaving?
you from leaving Israel?