By Senior Advocate Daniel Aspiro, Head of Private Clientele Department |
On March 7, 2023, the Supreme Court made a unanimous ruling stating that the Population and Immigration Authority must recognize the marriage of Utah even though the couple was physically in Israel at the time of the ceremony. This means that couples who get married online abroad can now be registered as married in Israel without having to leave the country.
The Utah marriage was a civil marriage that was conducted through visual commissioning over the internet, and at the end of the ceremony, the U.S. state of Utah issued an official marriage certificate. This ruling is not a legal innovation, but rather a continuation of a consistent halacha that the court has been following for over 60 years.
The ruling is a significant development as it opens up the possibility for Israeli citizens who wish to exercise their right to marry for various reasons such as those who are prohibited from marrying, LGBT couples, those who are not interested in marriage through the Chief Rabbinate, those of no religion, etc.
Justice Uzi Fogelman, Deputy President, and Head of the Panel, stated in paragraph 35 of the ruling that the registry clerk should have registered the couple as married in accordance with the valid public certificate presented to him. However, the judge noted that his decision is only valid with respect to technical registration and not substantive registration, which means that there is no decision regarding the validity of the marriage.
The ruling also highlights that the Population and Immigration Authority will now register spouses who were married in an online marriage abroad as married in Israel, which is a significant step forward for many couples who may have otherwise faced barriers to marriage in Israel.