Group claims progress on halachic pre-nups

Mavoi Satum women's group claims successes in ensuring the acceptance by the state of Halacha-compliant pre-nups.

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September 24, 2012 01:40
2 minute read.
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The women’s rights organization Mavoi Satum said on Sunday that it has made significant progress in ensuring the acceptance by the state of Halacha- compliant prenuptial agreements.

Of late, the group has called on couples to sign prenuptial agreements drawn up in accordance with Jewish law. These agreements are designed to prevent one of the partners from refusing to give or accept a get, or bill of divorce.

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Without a get a woman cannot start a new family according to Halacha, and in many hundreds of divorce cases, men refuse to give their wives a get in order to extort more favorable terms in the divorce settlement.

There are also cases in which women refuse to receive a get, although the prevalence is lower.

The prenuptial agreement that Mavoi Satum promotes stipulates that should either partner refuse to give or accept a get, they will be forced to pay $1,500 or half their salary, whichever is higher, every month until they accede to their spouse’s request.

Couples wishing to sign a prenuptial agreement must do so along with the marriage registrar of the regional religious council where they register for marriage.

Nevertheless, Mavoi Satum says that several councils have refused to authorize the pre-nuptial agreement, despite the fact that such documents are officially sanctioned by law.

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In light of this phenomenon, the organization issued a letter to the heads of regional religious councils in which the registrar refused to authorize the document. The letter was also sent to the Chief Rabbinate, Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi and the legal adviser to the government to ask why its halachic pre-nuptial agreement was being rejected.

The religious councils of Givat Shmuel and Ra’anana, which are among those who have rejected prenuptial agreements, could not be reached for comment. Their principle objection is most likely that, should divorce be sought, the document might constitute a coerced get, because of the monetary obligation incurred for infracting its terms.

A coerced get is invalid according to Halacha, and any children a woman would have in a new marriage subsequent to receiving such a get would be deemed mamzerim, an extremely debilitating personal status with Jewish law.

Following Mavoi Staum’s complaint, the Religious Services Ministry formally accepted the position of its legal adviser attorney Yisrael Pat that marriage registrars be obligated by law to authorize and sign Mavoi Satum’s halachic pre-nuptial agreement.

The ministry added that it would send out a directive to all regional religious councils informing them that they are obligated to authorize these documents.

“This is a real breakthrough and an important achievement in advancing the use of halachic prenuptial agreements,” said Batya Kehane-Dror, director of Mavoi Satum.

“The fact that the regional religious councils will not create difficulties over authorizing this document will encourage young couples to use such agreements and thereby ensure their joint future with equality and mutual respect,” she said.

Although the use of halachic prenuptial agreements is still in its infancy, Mavoi Satum hopes that the decision to instruct the religious councils to accept their validity will encourage more people to use them.

Kehane-Dror did however express concerns that the rabbinic officials in religious councils will continue to reject the prenuptial agreements.

In such an eventuality, Mavoi Satum will petition the High Court of Justice to enforce their acceptance, she said.

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