Israeli Family-Law Forum - Property

Below are readers' questions sent about 'Property ', which we have chosen to answer. Further and more detailed information can be found on our main website, www.family-laws.co.il , under 'Property Rights' on the subject menu.

The two legal steps that are generally recommended in such circumstances are a property relations agreement, whether you marry or cohabit, and an updated  will.

In principle yes! You are entitled to half of your "ex's" pension and work-related rights, relating to the period of your marriage,until your financial partnership ended (upon separation or divorce, or start of legal proceedings), unless you expressly gave up those rights in your divorce agreement. The wording on your divorce agreement , the associated protocol and judgment authorizing it should  be checked by a family law lawyer, to make sure that you are indeed entitled to an equal share of  your "ex's" pension rights.

Yes, depending on the particular circumstances and if the necessary legal conditions are met relating to the exploitation/trickery of the “donor”, by the “recipient” and the worsening of the former’s situation, then it is possible to cancel an undertaking to make a gift .
In April 2015, Ashdod Family Court accepted an application to cancel an undertaking made by an elderly widow ( the “donor”) ,who had been tricked into signing papers to irreversibly transfer all rights in her farm on a Moshav to only one of her 7 children (the “recipient”) without preserving the right to even reside there, till the end of her days. It held that the evidence proved she had been manipulated and tricked into doing so,at a time when she was very vulnerable, as another son was dying, and she thought she was merely giving permission for the recipient son to use a storage area. In its judgment,the court cited the testimony of the 86 year old widow during cross examination in court, to support its finding.

Yes! By drawing up a financial agreement, which would include a separation of assets,other than what is specifically registered in joint names, and prevent him acquiring property rights, as a result of being a cohabitee, or married spouse. This is possible under Israeli law and the agreement should be professionally drafted, and authorized by the family court, to give it maximum legal validity. If your boyfriend refuses to co-operate, you would be justified in suspecting he is a” gold-digger”. If you pursue the relationship, as business or romantic partners, without an agreement to protect your interests, you would be unnecessarily exposing yourself to financial exploitation and even ruin.

Under the 1973 Spouses’ Property Relations’ Law  property acquired by a spouse by way of gift or inheritance during the marriage remains personal property and does not enter the common pool of property to be divided between them if their relationship ends.

In other words, Israeli law protects gifts, even during marriage, but if the money is obtained by way of gift (or inheritance) by one spouse, and then deposited in a joint account, it becomes joint property. If the money received as a gift is retained in a private bank account it remains personal property.

As a rule, rights in land acquired before marriage remain personal, unless before/after the house was built on it, the building and the plot were registered in the spouses' joint names, as a condition to obtaining the mortgage loan. However, if the plot, and the house, remained registered solely in your name, funding for building the house, and repayment of the mortgage loan, do give your husband considerable rights in the home, which is joint property, but with the possibility of deducting the value of land itself. Accordingly, the fact that the mortgage repayments are made via your personal bank accounts is of no great significance.

You can act to define your property rights, so that your contribution is more realistically expressed, in the event of an end of your financial partnership/breakdown in your marriage, by drafting a property relations agreement. This, of course, depends on the co-operation of your husband.

Probably not, although the answer depends on the particular circumstances of the case, and the court's discretion, according to Israeli law. For example, in April 2011, in property proceedings between spouses, Tel Aviv Family Court held that debts incurred by a husband through his addiction to gambling were his personal debts, and not joint debts resulting from the management of the family's resources. The court ruled that the husband was solely responsible for these debts and the wife was not penalized by her husband's gambling.

No! An agreement about property rights signed by a married couple is not fully legally binding ,according to law, unless it has been authorized by a court, or religious court. Such authorization is aimed at preventing 'consent' by compulsion.

Where the marriage is a long one, courts tend to recognize the rights of the non-registered spouse in the marital home (up to 50%). However, where the marriage is short,one can normally expect the return of the investment alone,with interest,or linkage,in favour of the non-registered spouse.

No! Israeli law excludes property acquired by gift from being joint, marital property, if the parties married on or after 1.1.74, even if it was received during the course of the marriage.

You can ask the family court for  permission to repair and re-let the apartment and give instructions on this, within the property proceedings that exist between you. If necessary,the court  can give instructions for a special bank account to be set up ,into which the rent can be paid,and for the repairs to be paid for from this, and can even appoint a trustee/s  (for example, each party’s lawyer) to manage this process .

 

Not without prior permission from court - you would have to persuade it that the sale is in the minor children's good, and you would have to act under strict instructions given concerning your proposed plan, too, to protect their property rights, even if your application was approved. 

Under the 1962 Legal Capacity and Guardianship Act ,even though parents are their minor children's natural guardians they cannot act to sell their real estate rights without court permission and under its direction. The court is seen as acting to protect the minors' interests.

Not without prior permission from court - you would have to persuade it that the sale is in the minor children's good, and you would have to act under strict instructions given concerning your proposed plan,too, to protect their property rights, even if your application was approved. 

Under the 1962 Legal Capacity and Guardianship Act ,even though parents are their minor children's natural guardians they cannot act to sell their real estate rights without court permission and under its direction. The court is seen as acting to protect the minors' interests.

 

Firstly, it is possible that you acquired the apartment as a gift,during your late mother's lifetime, or by way of an instruction in a will she made. As a rule a person is free to do as he/she wishes with his/her own property,be it during his/her lifetime by way of a gift,or after he/she dies, by way of a will, to anyone. This includes the freedom to leave property to any one he/she wishes, including non-family members, or to divide it unequally between family members,or leave some out entirely, as he/she wishes.
 
If a person is of sound mind,and is not subject to duress, undue influence,or etc, and has the necessary legal capacity,then it is very hard for siblings to challenge the legality of any gift or bequest of an apartment made by that person. However, if a person is elderly,frail,ill,dependent on a family member or caregiver,or in a poor emotional state etc, it may be possible for the siblings to challenge the legality of the gift or bequest and get it cancelled. Much depends on the exact circumstances of the case and the weight of evidence that can be obtained by either side to support their respective cases.
 

 

Firstly, it is possible that you acquired the apartment as a gift,during your late mother's lifetime, or by way of an instruction in a will she made. As a rule a person is free to do as he/she wishes with his/her own property,be it during his/her lifetime by way of a gift,or after he/she dies, by way of a will, to anyone. This includes the freedom to leave property to any one he/she wishes, including non-family members, or to divide it unequally between family members, as he/she wishes.
 
If a person is of sound mind,and is free durees, undue influence,or etc, and has the necessary legal capacity,then it is very hard for siblings to challenge the legality of any gift or bequest of an apartment made by them. However, if a person is elderly,frail,ill,dependent on a family member or caregiver,or in a poor emotional state etc, it may be possible for the siblings to challenge the legality of the gift or bequest and get it cancelled. Much depends on the exact circumstances of the case and the weight of evidence that can be obtained by either side to support their respective cases.
 

It must be in writing (as opposed to being an oral agreement), and be authorised by court. You must both attend the court hearing to authorise the agreement. The judge will only authorise the agreement and grant a judgment giving it full legal validity if he is satisfied that both of you signed it of your own free will, without any pressure/blackmail,and that you are aware of its contents,meaning and implications. He may question you about the agreement and will not authorise it unless he is completely satisfied about these issues.

An agreement between a married couple that is not authorised by court is not fully binding.

Yes, according to the legislation covering I.D.F. widows' benefits, a widow who loses her right to the benefit upon remarriage will be entitled to it once again, if she divorces.

Yes, according to legislation from 1950 covering I.D.F. widows' benefits,you are likely to forego your benefit if you remarry. However,mutual children you have will still be entitled to any benefit they receive under the legislation, even if you remarry. 

No- it is your husband's,too !Usually property acquired during the course of a marriage belongs to both spouses, irrespective of whether it is registered in the name of both husband and wife, or just one of them. The fact that a married couple have separate bank accounts does not adversely the property rights of either of them.

No! Disability allowance paid to one spouse is not joint,marital property,but belongs exclusively to the person entitled to it. Accordingly, if you divorce you are not entitled to a share of your husband's monthly state disability allowance.

Yes! Either of you,as joint owners of your marital home, is entitled to prevent 'unwelcome guests' from entering real estate you own together,including the apartment. 'Welcome guests' have permission or  'licence' to be on your property, and that must be given by each of you, as joint owners. As your joint ownership relates to the whole property,both of you must consent to and permit someone to be a guest. For  you, your wife's children are 'unwanted guests' and 'trespassers', while for her they are 'welcome guests' with a licence to be there.

In this situation, your interest and right to  prevent an 'unwelcome guest' ,who is 'thrust upon' you,from entering your home takes precedence over your wife's right to allow someone to enter. Only mutual agreement can really ease the situation. While legal action can be used here to enforce your rights, this  could backfire and aggravate the delicate relationship with your wife.

If your marital assets are registered in joint names,these can be divided up without further delay, even if you remain married.  If, however, they are registered in only one of your names , and you remain married, but separated,you will need either mutual consent to divide up your financial partnership in them, or you will have to wait a minimum of nine months from the time of your separation until they can be divided. Until a November 2008 amendment to the 1973 Spouses' Property Relations ACt, couples marrying on or after 1.1.74, like you, had to wait until divorce or death before assets registered in only one party's name could be divided, if there was no mutual consent.

Not necessarily. Assets registered in joint names can be divided up before the divorce itself is completed. Until recently,however, under Israeli law, couples who married after 1.1.74, as opposed to those marrying before that time, had to wait until they divorced before assets registered in only one of their names  only ,could be divided, unless both of them agreed.  However, since a November 2008 amendment to the 1973 Spouses' Property Relations' Act, even assets registered in one party's name,where the marriage took place after 1.1.74, can be divided up before the actual divorce - subject to certain conditions.

Definitely - this is incorrect! There is absolutely  no bar on you registering it in your own name, even if you are not a citizen. Real estate property purchased from pre-marital resources by one party is not joint property , according to Israeli law, and your wife's action appears to be manipulative. 

Her 'tips' on registration of the property  in her sole name or joint names could be an attempt to create or indicate an intention on your part to make her a gift of 50%-100% of the property. However, Israeli law has very clear and specific instructions about documentation needed to prove an intention to make a gift of real estate. Registration of property rights in another person's name, even a spouse's, does not , by itself, indicate such an intention !

No! This is a myth - your rights in marital property are not affected in any way if you leave the property , whether your departure is justified or not. There is often confusion over this - in Jewish law a wife who leaves the marital home unjustifiably can lose her rights to her own maintenance, during the marriage. This, however, has  nothing to do with her  property rights, which remain unaffected by her departure.

On the face of it,  no ! In principle, a business which was founded before a couple married, will not be regarded as joint property. Accordingly, debts created in that business should not be 'shared' with the other  marital partner, who was not involved at all in the running, management or opening of the business.

Usually when a couple separate permanently, the date of their separation marks the end of the financial partnership between them (or, in the words of the law, the time of 'balancing of financial resources'). However, if one party buys an expensive asset like a sports car, shortly after separating, it is reasonable to assume that it was purchased from joint resources acquired before the split,  in which case it would be regarded as marital or shared  property. Every case,  however,  is decided on its particular facts and circumstances.

No!Usually property acquired during the course of marriage, and registered in one party's name, is joint property, regardless of whether it is registered in one or in joint names. The fact that the couple have separate bank accounts does not , in itself, alter that assumption.

Firstly, there is no connection between divorce and opening and closing bank accounts. A married person can do this at any stage of marriage - providing it is not a joint account. This requires co-operation, both opening and closing it. Neither husand or wife is entitled to make a unilateral decision to close a joint bank account. However, both parties are entitled to give instructions restricting its use e.g. so that a joint signature is required for money to be spent etc. This, however, can bring a bank account to a standstill, although it still remains open.

In principle, property registered in one party's name only, that was acquired during the marriage, is still prima facia jointly owned, unless it was obtained by way of gift or inheritance, or , for example, it comes from pre-marital resources and there was no proven intention for it to become shared.

No ! Under the 1973 Spouses' Property Relations' Act, which applies to couples marrying from 1.1.74 onwards, property owned by one spouse prior to marriage remains their individual, and exclusive property. It does not enter into the pool of marital property to be balanced out .

No! Property inherited by one spouse , even during the course of marriage, is not regarded as joint or common property to be balanced out between them as part of the equalization or property balancing process applicable to couples marrying on or after 1.1.74, under Israeli law.