On Attorney Google (brother of Dr. Google, MD) and Prenuptial Agreements

On Attorney Google (brother of Dr. Google, MD) and Prenuptial Agreements

Doron Afik, Esq.
April 12, 2024

It is said that every Jewish mother's wet dream is for her son to be a doctor or a lawyer - the mother of the Google search engine (if she is Jewish) is probably very proud of it, because many people (for some reason) are certain that it is not only a doctor, a lawyer and an expert in almost everything, but it is also capable of writing a prenuptial agreements - a very complex topic that requires many years of training in many fields, but couples before marriage sometimes think that a search on the Internet can replace an experienced professional.

A couple seeks to get married but one of them owns an apartment (or other property) and therefore, in order to avoid pressure from the family, they decide to sign a simple (and cheap...) prenuptial agreement and for that they search the Internet, find a sample agreement and turn to a notary just to sign in front of him (or, maybe turn to a notary who happens to also have experience in searching the Internet and downloading sample agreements …) instead of turning to an expert in the field who may charge them a little more. It does sound ridiculous when you put it down with such a cynical approach, but as a notary who also deals with preparing prenuptial agreements (and holds a cynical attitude, sometimes) I am often required to explain to couples that the wonderful document they brought with them, to save costs, is not a document that I myself would sign.

A prenuptial agreement is in many cases a source of friction when the demand is raised by one of the parties (or, in many cases, a parent of one of one) before the marriage, but it is an extremely important tool for preventing future conflicts (and therefore it should also settle issues of possible separation and child care in such a case). In many cases issues recorded in the agreement come up only when the relationship runs aground, years later, with the death of one of the parties or when one wishes to write a will. When a conflict breaks out, it is very difficult in retrospect to examine what the parties intended (and by that time the circumstances may change significantly) and an agreement that was not drafted correctly may cause exactly the conflict it was intended to prevent.

Under Israeli law, it is not the role of the notary (or the Court - when the agreement is concluded after the marriage, or in a cohabitation agreement if the parties do not want to marry or technically cannot marry under Israeli law, such as with homosexual couples) to give legal advice to the parties. In a case discussed in the Family Court of Kiryat-Gat in February, 2024, a woman (17 years after signing the prenuptial agreement) contended that the notary did not properly warn her about the meaning of the agreement. The Court clarified that the notary is not required to have any expertise in domestic relations law and his entire role is to ensure that the signing is done of free will and in understanding of the meaning of the agreement. In that case, the verdict described that the notary did not prepare the prenuptial agreement, but rather a lawyer who happened to be the man's former commander in the army - not necessarily the appropriate training for preparing prenuptial agreements.

Therefore, just as when there is a heart issue, one does not go on the Internet and search for "how to perform open heart surgery by yourself using only a mirror and a screwdriver", one should not download a sample prenuptial agreement or a cohabitation agreement from the Internet, but turn to a notary with experience in drafting such agreements, and as far as the agreement also concerns ownership in corporations or businesses, also with experience in this field. As in any complex legal field, and certainly due to the sensitivity of the family fabric, saving money when signing a prenuptial agreement or a cohabitation agreement may cause future conflicts that will harm exactly what the agreement is meant to protect - the family.