The Tzohar rabbinical association said it has authorized a prenuptial agreement that will become part of the default marriage procedure for the thousands of weddings conducted through its rabbis every year.

Tzohar’s 30-member rabbinical council approved a prenuptial agreement that is designed to prevent the phenomenon of spouses refusing to grant or accept a divorce and thus tying their partner indefinitely into the marriage, often in order to obtain a better settlement in the divorce proceedings.

The prenuptial agreements were drawn up by the members of the rabbinical council in consultation with external rabbis and rabbinic judges with expertise on the issue.

The agreement stipulates that should a spouse refuse to grant or accept a divorce, they will be obligated to pay NIS 6,000 a month or half their salary, whichever is higher, to their partner until the divorce is finalized.

The idea is that such sums would be prohibitively high for an average person to continue paying, and subsequently force them to agree to the divorce.

“Signing the prenuptial agreements will reduce and even eradicate the phenomenon of divorce refusal and so we see it as something of great importance,” the rabbinical council said.

Some 4,500 couples marry through Tzohar’s services every year and they will now be encouraged to sign the prenuptial agreements.

Women’s rights groups say that there are hundreds of cases a year of recalcitrant husbands refusing to grant a bill of divorce, without which a woman cannot get remarried or have children due to certain stipulations of Jewish law.

There are also not infrequent cases of women refusing to accept a divorce, also to obtain better terms in the settlement, which causes similar problems.

Also in attendance at Monday night’s meeting was Chief Rabbi David Lau.

Relationships between the Chief Rabbinate and Tzohar have frequently been strained but Lau expressed support for the prenuptial agreements and said that he was interested in advancing the concept within the Chief Rabbinate and that he has spoken with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni about the idea.

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