Certifying a divorce agreement

Jewish spouses who were married and decided to divorce by mutual agreement, can reach agreement through a divorce agreement formulating the conclusion of their shared life, the division of property, child custody, alimony, etc. In order for the agreement to have legal effect, it must be certified by the Rabbinical Court or the Family Court in the jurisdiction of the parties’ shared residence, or their last place of residence. A divorce agreement which was not certified by the court cannot be enforced.


The main advantage of a divorce agreement is in being able to avoid long and expensive legal proceedings, and addressing disputed issues with both parties’ mutual consent and control.

Although there is no obligation to do so, it’s highly recommended to be represented by a family lawyer, or contact a mediator with suitable experience in order to formulate the agreements so that they hold in the long term, and so that they address changes throughout time and avoid future disputes.

The agreement’s composition

The divorce agreement must include a variety of issues and matters making up their shared life, including property, but also child custody, etc. The more comprehensive and detailed the agreement, the more years it can hold, even in times of change.

The agreement certified by the court/the rabbinical court must first and foremost include the division of shared property, including bank accounts, savings, reference to debts, mortgages, vehicles, home contents, as well as various social benefits, such as study funds or pensions.

In addition, the agreement must address the ketubah (Jewish marriage contract), the divorce arrangements, child custody, who would be the custodial parent, arrangements regarding the children’s residence, including the specific times of residence, visitation, holidays and vacations, the children’s education, alimony, and healthcare.

The Property Relations Between Spouses Law, 5733-1973 regulates financial issues in property divisions related to divorce. Section 1(a) of this law provides that “a prenuptial financial agreement must be certified by the Family Court or the religious court having jurisdiction in the matters of marriage and divorce between spouses, and in addition the amendment of such agreement is conditioned by such certification as aforesaid.”

It’s important to note that special reference exists with regards to alimony. The Family Law Amendment (Alimony) Law, 5719-1959 provides that any agreement waiving alimony with respect to a minor does not bind such minor so long as it has not been certified by the court.

It should be noted that usually, the agreement should be full and include all relevant issues. However, a partial agreement can be created, for example only with respect to the divorce procedure, while letting the court or the rabbinical court resolve the other issues in dispute between the spouses, including property, child custody, alimony, and so on.


Court certification of a divorce agreement

As mentioned above, a divorce agreement can be certified in a family court or a rabbinical court. However, you should know that the court’s treatment would be formal and technical, while the rabbinical court would also discuss the reasons leading to the divorce. As part of this, the rabbinical court may demand the parties to provide proof for the existence of grounds for divorce, and even direct them to a shlom bayit (restorative mediation) procedure, which may delay the official certification of the divorce, even if both spouses wish to obtain it.

When the procedure is brought to the family court, the following process must be followed:

  • Filing a joint petition to certify the divorce agreement
  • Attaching a copy of the signed agreement
  • Paying a fee in the amount of ILS 537


When the procedure is conducted in the rabbinical court, you must:

  • Open a divorce agreement certification case
  • Fill out the petition form to certify the divorce agreement at the rabbinical court’s secretariat
  • Pay a free for opening a divorce agreement certification case at the rabbinical court
  • Attach a copy of your identity card, including an up-to-date counterfoil
  • Attach a copy of the signed agreement


Following the completion of this procedure, the court/rabbinical court’s secretariat will invite the parties for discussion (mostly within one to three weeks). You must attend the discussion with your identity cards. The discussion regarding the agreement’s certification is conducted in chambers, with only the parties and their lawyers present. In case the agreement was created by a mediator, they may also attend the discussion.

The court will read out the agreement to the parties, make sure that the spouses have signed it voluntarily, will explain its meanings, and make sure they understood it.

Section 2(b) of the Property Relations Between Spouses Law provides that “certification shall not be granted until after the Court or the religious court has been satisfied that the spouses have made the agreement or the amendment out of free consent and while comprehending its meaning and consequences.”

Following this, the court/rabbinical court will go over the clauses referring to the spouses’ children, and make sure that the agreement is not in contradiction with their best interests. If the court is satisfied that it is not, the agreement will be granted the force of a ruling. In case it needs to be amended, such amended will be made in the same discussion.

If the agreement was certified by the family court, then the court certification must be submitted to the rabbinical court for the purpose of the divorce and its related arrangements.

Upon its certification by the appropriate judicial forum, the agreement can be enforced by the Execution Office and the National Insurance Institute of Israel, or through the provision of an order pursuant to a contempt of court ordinance, in case it isn’t honored.

A signed agreement certified by a judicial forum, and having binding effect, can be amended by mutual agreement. However, for this purpose, you must approach the same judicial forum which originally certified the agreement, and file a petition for the amendment or change of a divorce agreement.

As concerning alimony, children, and the issue of custody, the divorce agreement may be amended over lapse of time and circumstances. However, you would need to prove a material change has occurred in circumstances since the signing of the agreement in order to justify the change of arrangements to which the parties agreed. For example, termination of employment, an accident or a poor health, and significant decline in financial status. Any of these reasons can certainly constitute a material change justifying amendment.

Can a divorce agreement be canceled?

It is difficult and complicated to cancel a signed agreement made with the parties’ consent and granted legal effect. In fact, this is only done in cases where uninformed consent, fraud, coercion, deception or abuse can be proven, pursuant to the Contracts Law (General Part), 5733–1973

Thus for example, in May 2020, the Ashdod Family Court dismissed the suit of a woman to cancel a divorce agreement under the argument of deception and abuse (Agreement Case 1589-01-19).

In this case, the two had signed a voluntary and mutually agreed divorce agreement, which was signed in September 2018; however, a short time later, the woman filed her suit. In the statement of claim, she argued that feeling lonely within her marriage life, she found refuge in telephone-based relationships she had maintained. After her husband found this out, she apologized to him, and according to her, was manipulated so as to believe that he’d forgiven her. As part of this, he presented a “solution” that she had no choice over, mainly consisting of this agreement. The statement of claim argues that “the agreement includes extreme decisions formulated by the Defendant and his representative, which denied the Plaintiff basic rights to which she is entitled.” “The agreement is draconian, denies her basic rights such as women’s alimony and her ketubah, a minimal amount of alimony and its cessation after a short time, a waiver of any finances or property, which, even if purchased prior to the marriage, both parties had a share in, in light of both parties’ contribution to the family unit.”

In the conclusion, she wrote that the agreement was signed without choice, out of fear and covert coercion, while she was confused and had no support from her relatives, and while believing the defendant’s claims of his wish to maintain spousal peace.

Judge Ofra Guy wrote in her ruling that “the Plaintiff has failed to present to me, as part of this proceeding, any supporting documents as to her own and the Defendant’s incomes upon the date of the creation of the agreement, the parties were not questioned with regards to this matter, and vague arguments in summaries regarding the rate of such income are insufficient, given the fact that they were not supported by any documents, as aforesaid… In such circumstances, the argument according to which the agreement terms are unfavorable with respect to alimony than is generally accepted, should not be accepted.” As to the woman’s waiver of alimony and her ketubah, the Judge wrote that “In light of the central claim with respect to the alleged infidelity, it is clear that great doubt exists with respect to the Plaintiff’s eligibility for her ketubah, and it appears that under these circumstances, and in light of the man’s arguments and the situation leading the parties to sign the agreement, it seems only reasonable that the woman chose to waive them.”

Can you appeal the judicial forum’s decision on whether or not to certify the divorce agreement?

Since the ruling certifying the agreement is issued pursuant to the parties’ mutual consent, it is extremely difficult to appeal it from the outset; however, formally, this is possible. If certification was granted by a family court, the appeal should be filed, as is customary, to a district court within 45 days. If the certification was granted by a rabbinical court, the appeal must be filed at the Great Rabbinical Court within 30 days.

A divorce agreement might save you long and exhausting discussions in judicial forums, as well as time, money, and much pain and suffering to both parties, when made with mutual respect and agreement. However, though there’s no obligation to do so, it’s highly recommended to seek legal advice from suitable lawyers, specializing in family matters and/or from an attorney-mediator, in order to create a beneficial agreement addressing your interests, which would hold throughout the years and the changes in the parties’ lives.

We wish to get what is best for you, which is why it is highly recommended to contact a lawyer specializing in this field – we will build a shared action plan together, giving you proper assistance and instructions, recommendations, and professional legal representation. You are invited to contact us by calling our number: 055-9826594, or though the chat window on our website.

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