Understanding the Halachic Prenup
What is the Halachic Prenup?
The halachic prenup is a legal document which, if universally adopted, has the potential to “end the agunah problem as we know it.”
The Prenup is a legal agreement like any other contract you would sign – such as to purchase a house or engage in a business partnership – which goes into effect in the unfortunate event of a contested Jewish divorce. It has two primary elements: First, each spouse agrees to appear before a specific beit din and abide by its decision with respect to the get should the marriage end in divorce. Second, The Prenup contains a monetary incentive to give the get, amounting to $54,750 a year, which is enforceable in civil court. A reciprocal version of The Prenup provides the same financial disincentive for a wife who refuses to participate in the get process.
Why should I sign a Halachic Prenup? My fiance is a great person and would never want to hurt me.
As a matter of public policy, signing The Prenup must become the norm so that all members of the Jewish community are protected from the horrors of get-refusal. To prevent an outbreak of disease, the entire population needs to be vaccinated, not just a few people.
In addition, there are no guarantees in life. Divorce is a reality in our community, and The Prenup protects someone from their worst inclinations which are brought out in the heat of a divorce, thereby ensuring that the get never becomes an issue of contention. Every person should be able to say to their prospective spouse, “I love you so much, I never want to hurt you,” and put that in writing through signing The Prenup.
Does the Prenup actually work?
Yes! The halachic prenup has worked 100% of the time in preventing cases of get-recalcitrance, so long as the prenup was properly signed and a copy was available. The halachic prenup is designed to resolve modern agunah cases but not classical agunah cases (such as missing husbands) which are extremely rare in modern times.
What is the Halachic perspective on the Prenup?
The Prenup was drafted by Rabbi Mordechai Willig in consultation with halachic and legal experts. It is based on a classical version of the tana’im, the engagement contract. The financial disincentive delineated in The Prenup is based upon a husband's halachic obligation to provide food, clothing, and shelter to his wife so long as they remain married. Thus, The Prenup tells a husband "you don't want to give your wife a get? Fine, you must support her as outlined in the ketubah until you terminate the marriage by giving a get."
The Prenup has been endorsed by a number of leading poskim, including Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and Rabbi Osher Weiss. The Rabbinical Council of America has passed resolutions declaring that rabbis should not officiate at weddings in which a halachic prenuptial agreement has not been executed. To learn more, click here.
What should I do if my fiance is reluctant to sign a Prenup?
Explain to your fiancé why signing The Prenup is so important as a matter of public policy. Be clear that signing The Prenup does not indicate an intent to divorce or a lack of trust. In fact, we think The Prenup is kind of romantic. Signing The Prenup affirms your commitment to care for and protect your spouse throughout your marriage. If it still remains an issue, we recommend that you consult with a trusted rabbi, or feel free to contact us for guidance. Refusal to sign The Prenup may serve as a red flag for more serious control issues.
I am already married and did not sign a Prenup. Can I sign one now?
Yes! There is a postnuptial agreement that you can sign which, in essence, is the same document. We encourage all married couples to sign it. For example, Rabbi Mordechai Willig signed a postnuptial agreement with his wife. To access the postnuptial agreement, click here.
How do I sign the Prenup?
To simplify the process of signing The Prenup, we created a Step by Step Guide so that signing The Prenup is as easy as possible.
Though The Prenup can be signed anywhere, all engaged couples are invited to sign The Prenup in ORA’s New York office. We will supply you with copies of The Prenup and walk you through the terms of the agreement. We have a notary public on staff and can execute the agreement in our office, free of charge. Give us ten minutes of your time and walk away with the signed Prenup in hand! To make a prenup signing appointment at ORA, please contact Jennifer Lankin, our Assistant Director of Programming and Development.