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Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel

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What happens to money in Israel in a wife’s name, when the couple ( who had dual Israeli and US citizenship and had built their home, business and family in California, after marrying in a Jewish wedding in Israel) were in the middle of civil divorce proceedings there, covering property, and the husband died suddenly without having made a will ?

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel
While jurisdiction over the division of the couple’s marital assets – including the determination of their property rights in Israel – lay with the court in California which was dealing with the dissolution of marriage there, those proceedings stop upon the death of a spouse. Under the Californian Family Code a spouse’s death dissolves the marriage as a matter of law, and stops proceedings in a dissolution of marriage plea , and the court’s jurisdiction to determine issues still to be decided, including property. However, the death does not affect orders already given and the family court retains jurisdiction to enforce rights already decided upon.
Accordingly, if the Californian court had determined the parties’ property rights in Israel before the husband’s death , then application for an order to distribute his share in it could be made to the appropriate Inheritance Registrar in Israel. If, under Israeli law, the couple’s status was that of married couple – i.e. they had not divorced in an American rabbinical court authorized and recognized by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate – then half would go to the surviving spouse, and the other half would be divided equally between their children. If, however, the Californian court had not determined the deceased spouse’s rights in the Israeli property, then application would have to be made in Israel for a declaratory judgment on this, according to Israeli law, at the same as application is made to distribute her share of the Israeli property according to Israeli inheritance law.

Will a woman living in the States with her husband – both of whom were Israelis who also had US citizenship and married according to Jewish law in Israel – be entitled to any property in Israel registered in his name if they were in the middle of a civil divorce battle abroad when he had a heart attack and died without making a will ?

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel
The woman will be entitled to some of the deceased’s Israeli estate if, according to Israeli law, she was still married to him under Jewish religious law. In other words, if the couple had not divorced in the U.S. in a rabbinical court authorized and recognized for this purpose by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, then they will still be regarded as married in Israel, and will have the rights of a widow according to the 1965 Inheritance Act. It does not matter if they obtained a civil divorce abroad or not – only a proper, Jewish divorce executed abroad and recognized in Israel, would deprive the woman of her status as a widow regarding inheritance.

I am an Israeli living abroad where I divorced my wife, who is not Israeli. Our divorce judgment also dealt with a division of marital property and made reference to bank accounts in our joint and separate names in Israel. Will this judgment be recognized in Israel for the purposes of dividing up the money in the accounts and put an end to any proceedings in Israel regarding this ?

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel

Yes, if the foreign judgment dealing with a division of marital property is recognized according to the 1958 Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act.

What should I do if my wife has filed for a dissolution of our civil marriage in California , U.S.A. and has included a plea for a division of marital property – but then filed for divorce at the rabbinical court in Israel and included property I have in Israel ? We married in a civil ceremony in the United States and according to Jewish law in Israel. Both of us left Israel to live in America where we both have citizenship and have lived for many years.

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel

You should file a plea to strike out the property plea at the Israeli rabbinical court on grounds of lack of jurisdiction. The Californian Family Code states that the court’s jurisdiction to rule on the division of the couple’s property is extra-territorial (it covers property wherever it is located in the world). Once proceedings have been started in a civil court – either in Israel or abroad – regarding the couple’s property , then an Israeli rabbinical court cannot have jurisdiction over the property rights tied to a divorce plea .

My husband and I are Israelis living in the States with dual Israeli and American nationality . We married in 1986. Our marriage is in pieces and I am trying to negotiate a divorce settlement over here. We have property (real estate and savings) in Israel which we acquired after getting married. It is in my husband’s name only. How can the property settlement be worked out regarding the Israeli property ?

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel

Firstly, the option exists for you to reach a comprehensive divorce agreement in the States which covers the Israeli property. If this agreement is authorised in a foreign court, then an application can be made in the Israeli family court for the recognition of the foreign judgment and for the implementation of the terms of the agreement.

An alternative is for a separate agreement to be made regarding the Israeli property and for it to be submitted to the family court for authorisation here under the Spouses’Property Relations’ Act of 1973 which applies to couples marrying after 1974. This, however, requires physical presence in Israel as the court is obliged under the act to identify the parties and verify that they signed the agreement of their own free will with an understanding of its contents and its implications. The agreement will then have the binding value of a judgment and the property itself may be divided according to the terms agreed upon.

If, however, your husband will not co-operate in coming to an agreement regarding the Israeli property, then you can file at the family court to protect your rights in the property under the above act. Such proceedings can be started from abroad without flying to Israel , by signing a power of attorney and any affidavits at the Israeli Consulate in relation to the action and permission can be obtained to serve your husband with documents in the States. This itself may force him into coming to an agreement.

My husband and I are Israelis living in Europe. We married in 1969 and have just separated . We have property in Israel (two apartments and bank accounts) acquired during our marriage. I have never worked outside the home while my husband has always worked. All the property is in his name only. Am I entitled to any part of it and if, so, can I get my share of the Israeli property whilst I am overseas ?

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel

In general a couple marrying before 1974 are bound by common law principles assuming marital partnership in their property. Basically the wife is entitled to half of the property acquired during the course of the marriage as long as they lived together under one roof and both put effort into the relationship. The wife need not work outside the home to be entitled to her half share : looking after the home and family is regarded as sufficient contribution. Each side is equally responsible for debts, too.


Accordingly, as a wife, married before 1974, you can file for a declaratory judgment regarding your rights in the Israeli property at the family court. Couples married before 1974 do not have to wait until they divorce to divide up their property. The side in whose name the property is not registered can apply for the declaratory judgment at any time. However, your husband could try to object and attempt to prove that the assumption of marital partnership does not apply in your particular case . If he succeeds, then your will not gain the declaratory judgment you wish.


If your husband does not try to deny the assumption of partnership or his attempt to do so fails, a declaratory judgment clarifying your rights as a wife will be granted. A plea can then be made to divide the property in accordance with the judgment. You can start the proceedings from Europe providing you sign a power of attorney and any affidavits in relation to the action at an Israeli consulate abroad


My husband and I are Israelis but live abroad. We have property registered in our joint names. I am not sure about divorcing but I do not trust my husband with finances. I am not sure if he is just irresponsible about running finances or has ulterior motives. Am I entitled to get my share of the property independently of divorce ?

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel

If the property is registered in joint names either side is entitled to file for division of the property independently of divorce no matter when you married.

Even though someone lives abroad he/she can start to file for the division of the property located in Israel by signing a power of attorney at the Israeli Consulate allowing a lawyer in Israel to represent him/her. A plea can be prepared in Israel and the affidavit/s supporting it can be signed by the person at the Consulate overseas.

My wife and I are in the process of leaving Israel. She has gone abroad with the children to rent a house and find a suitable school. I am staying on for a while in Israel to finish my contract at work and tie up loose ends. We own a car in Israel. Will I be able to sell it if it is in our joint names but my wife is abroad ?

Property Rights Israelis Abroad and Property in Israel

Yes, but your wife, the spouse living abroad will have to sign a notary’s power of attorney authorised at an Israeli Consulate abroad, which appoints you, the other spouse, to sell her rights in the car and transfer ownership in Israel . The original power of attorney will need to be sent to Israel in order for the change in ownership of the car to be effected.


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