Divorce is a complex matter, ending a period of life which started out as a promising period but ended in separation. This period is actually our married life, in which we got married, had children, stated a home and built ourselves a loving warm family unit. That being said, one of the best ways to make the divorce easier is to sign a divorce agreement.
What is a divorce agreement?
A divorce agreement is a contract for all purposes that is signed by the husband and wife, which aims to regulate how the divorce is done and the matters that need to be regulated when dismantling the family unit. The subjects are:The actual divorce:
i.e. the couple agree in the framework of the "contract" that they will get divorced, the husband will give the wife a Jewish divorce (Gett) and the wife will not create difficulties during the divorce procedure itself.Custody:
in the framework of the agreement the couple will regulate custody matters (i.e. who will be the responsible for the ongoing care of the shared children).Communal property:
for example, how will the apartment be sold, how the property accumulated by the couple be divided, etc.A divorce agreement is a "contract" signed between the couple and should be signed with their consent. Usually, the couple will be aided by a third party, like a lawyer or mediator. In some cases the divorce agreement can be done with the help of lawyers for each side.
Is there need for authorizing the divorce agreement and if so – how?
In Israel divorces are done by authorization of the Rabbinic court. This court decides in matters of divorce according to the religious law, the Halacha. So, in order to get a divorce, it is not sufficient for the couple to sign a formal agreement but the agreement itself (regarding the divorce "itself") has to be authorized in the Rabbinic court.Actually, it is a claim for divorce, presented by both parties, in accord. When filing for divorce one needs to pay a toll of 250 NIS for opening a file. Then you wait for a hearing in the presence of three judges (Dayanim). In addition to the above mentioned, child support needs to be authorized at the Rabbinic court too (or at the family court) because the fact that the parents agree on the amount of child support doesn't commit their children, without an authorization of a family court.Property matters do not have to be authorized at the Rabbinic or family court, you can reach an agreement and go according to it. However, it is sometimes preferable to authorize the divorce agreement regarding property in the family court, so as to make it difficult for one of the parties not to comply with the agreement. An agreement that gets authorized by the court is a verdict to all matter and purpose thus harder to breach.
What is the advantage of a divorce agreement?
As mentioned, a divorce agreement
is made by consent, as opposed to a legal procedure where the goal is to have one party gain, on the expense of the other party. An agreement should reflect the accord and choice of both parties, be it a couple or business partners. An agreement will prevent the parties from having an expensive, complex and emotionally difficult legal procedure.That, in fact, is the most important benefit of an agreement. In addition, the agreement can take in to account the difficulties of the couple, for example, financial matters or custody matters, where as a legal procedure might not take in to consideration personal and moral issues which only the couple could be considerate to.
What should a divorce agreement include? Agreement to divorce:
this is the core of the divorce agreement, the source for all other agreements. That is why it is important to include the agreement to divorce in the divorce agreement/contract and a time limit to submitting the claim. It is possible to determine a time for maintaining marital peace (Shlom-Bayit) (if the couple wants to try and salvage their relationship).Division of property:
in the framework of the agreement it is recommended to include the division of property and the way it would be divided. For example, it there is a shared apartment you should decide if it will be sold, when it will be sold or who will continue to pay the mortgage, etc.Child custody:
in the framework of the agreement it is very important to include the subject of child custody, that is, who will be the main caretaker, who will not, how many times will the secondary parent be responsible for the children, what days and hours, and it is important to make arrangements for times when one of the parents is ill or other circumstances that disrupt the agreement.Sanctions:
it is true that we are talking about an agreement between a couple, but it has happened before… For example, there could be a situation where, you find out the during property division, one side concealed property that he/she owned and that should have been divided between both parties. In such cases it is best to decide on a financial sanction, if you find out that one of the parties had negotiated in bad faith and hidden details.Time schedule:
as in any contract, it is important to include a schedule, in case one of the parties delays the implementation of the contract. In other words, it is desirable to set a period for filing for divorce, time to sell the apartment, and so on.It should be emphasized that the proposed list is not an exhaustive list.