I am a Cohen and married my wife in a civil marriage abroad a few years ago. I was forbidden from marrying her under Jewish law as she was a divorcee. As I have a successful business I wanted to make a property relations agreement . We did so after we got married and authorised it at the family court. We have been having problems lately, but I felt safe because of the agreement. However, a friend worried me by saying that it may not be valid because we are forbidden from marrying under Jewish law. Is he right ?By: דיאנה שאלתיאל•Published on: 10 May, 2022
No – as a ruling from the highest court in Israel proves !
The Spouses’ Property Relations’ Act of 1973 states that a married couple must authorise any agreement relating to their property in court for it to have validity. The key point in your case is whether a family court has jurisdiction to authorise an agreement between two Jews who have no legal capacity to marry one another according to Jewish law and who must ‘divorce’ one another if they do actually do so.
This point was tested by the Supreme Court in the early eighties involving a Cohen who had ‘married’ a Jewish divorcee in a private ceremony without a rabbi . He had asked the district court to authorise a property relations agreement between himself and his ‘wife’, although the rabbinical court had held that they must divorce. When the district court – the first level court at that time , with jurisdiction to authorise the agreement – refused, he appealed to the Supreme Court. It overruled the district court decision , and held by a majority 3:2 ruling, that it could authorise a property relations agreement between a Cohen and a divorcee .
Accordingly, it would appear that today the family court – which is now the first level civil court for these matters -has jurisdiction to authorise an agreement between a Cohen and a divorcee who married in a civil ceremony abroad.