Have you ever heard of a case in Israel where assets are divided unevenly on divorce?
The answer is yes and no!
Planning Ahead – Prenuptial Agreements
Sally and Harry were happily married for 12 years. They loved and respected each other but they both had very different backgrounds. In addition the relationship was not based on equal financial resources.
Harry was wealthy, not because he worked for his money but rather because he had come into a large family inheritance. Money was an issue between them and for Harry it was a major factor in his life although he was not fully aware of this.
When they married, Harry insisted on a prenuptial agreement, claiming he had come into the marriage with a large inheritance and Sally had come empty-handed. (Harry claimed later that Sally had actually come with a large financial debt). Sally didn’t like the pre-nup but she agreed to it immediately because she had no intention of claiming any share of Harry’s inheritance. Harry was an intelligent man who never worried about the future and was never concerned that the day might come when he couldn’t pay his bills. He lived a good life and was careful not to overspend. Sally, by contrast, came from a poor family. A hard-working woman, with plenty of energy, and money was not a major issue for her. She managed well and was a happy, giving person.
For both, this was a second marriage. Sally had 2 children living abroad with her ex-husband and Harry, a widower, had 3 children from his previous marriage.
Sally immediately became a mother to the children and in the first years she gave up everything, including her career. The children were traumatized by the death of their mother and Harry a non-disciplinary, non-assertive man with a weak personality, could not cope. He needed a woman to help him raise the children and Sally arrived as a gift from the Almighty. After a few years when the children w-ere a little older and things had settled down, Sally started rebuilding her career as a “haut-cuisine chief”, a demanding job.
Twelve years passed and then for a variety of reasons, the marriage came to an end. Harry claimed he couldn’t take it anymore. He was in a mid-life crisis, felt that he was now a strong person and he could handle the children better then Sally. In short, Harry was quoting the famous “you’ve done your part; you can leave because I don’t need you anymore!
Dividing the Assets Unevenly
Harry wanted Sally to leave “as she was”; naked as the day she had come. He had a pre- nuptial, he had money and he could afford a good lawyer who gave him “bad advice”. Sally, for her part, hired a good lawyer and sued Harry for half the assets accumulated during the 12 years. She asked nothing from Harrys’ inheritance.
In court, Harry’s lawyers claimed that Sally had never made a living for herself and had never earned any substantial money, etc. (let’s assume this was true but it wasn’t).
What a Waste of Time and Money
Had Harry consulted a better lawyer or a Judge (ex-Judge’s work as consultants in Israel) he would have saved both money and pain. As the Judge told Harry’s lawyer: “In the State of Israel, we have never had a case where the division of the assets between a couple was based on an ‘all-to-nothing’ arrangement and my court room will not be the first”.
According to Israeli law, assets can be divided unevenly as sometimes happens in court, but these are rare and extreme cases and a settlement has never been handed down based on an all-to-nothing arrangement. Whatever was accumulated (excluding personal belongings and personal jewelry) will be divided equally, and not even a “pre-nup” can change that.
One of the main disputes between Harry and Sally was the mortgage payments. Sally claimed half of all the mortgage payments for the last 12 years. Harry could either pay her in cash or as a share in the property. In short, the law is clear and Sally was granted what she asked for.
The Judge had some harsh criticisms of Harry’s lawyer saying that what he was trying to do was unfair, unheard of and had no chance of “creating a new understanding of the law”. As we lawyers know so well: Dura Lex Sed Lex (“The law is harsh but it is the law”). The case ended after a few hearings. By the time the sides had waved goodbye to thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees and “wasted prime time”, they could have better spent it all on a great vacation.
Learn How to End it Easily
Lawyers’ fees are substantial and sometimes even outrageous. Do not try and save money – find yourself a good lawyer, one you can trust!
There is a better and cheaper way: End the marriage by mutual agreement – it will cost only a fraction of the lawyer’s fees you would end up paying in a divorce battle.
End the relationship easily by compromising and being humble. Accept the fact that it is over and let it go.
Edited by Leon Moss