Pre-nup agreements growing in popularity, survey shows

71% believe agreement would prevent either partner from becoming a 'siruv get'.

Prenuptial agreements are increasing in popularity, with many viewing them as the best way to avoid a refusal to grant a divorce, a new survey by the International Coalition of Agunah Rights (ICAR) revealed Monday.
Published ahead of International Agunah Day on Thursday, the Dahaf-commissioned poll found that 71 percent of the public favors a legally binding agreement prior to marriage, believing it would prevent either partner from becoming a siruv get‚ (a person refused a writ of divorce under Jewish law) or an agunah (a "chained" woman whose husband is unable to grant her a divorce).
"We were surprised by the high number of people who said they believed a prenuptial was necessary," Robyn Shames, director of ICAR, an affiliation of 27 organizations working to find a solution to the problem of women whose husbands are unable or unwilling to grant them a Jewish divorce, told The Jerusalem Post.
"However, while most people say they support such an agreement, when it actually comes down to it, they refuse to sign," continued Shames, pointing out that many people see these contracts as being unromantic, or as tempting fate.
Indeed, 39% of those questioned by the survey cited considering a possible breakup while planning a wedding as their main objection to signing a pre-marriage contract, which typically organizes the financial management of the newly established family. The majority of those against the concept were women.
"Anyone who gets married could potentially become a siruv get in the future," emphasized Shames, adding that in recent years ICAR has been working to promote prenuptial agreements as a way to combat what is viewed by many as an inequality in Jewish laws pertaining to divorce.
While either a man or a woman can refuse to grant a divorce under Jewish law, the regulations are far more stringent toward the wife, who cannot remarry under any circumstances until her husband grants a get.
In Israel, the problem is more acute, rights groups say, because there is no separation of religion and state and all Jews, even those married in nonreligious ceremonies abroad, must divorce in accordance with the rabbinical courts.
This, said Shames, was why ICAR believes that signing a prenuptial agreement is so essential.
"We believe it is preferable to think of a prenuptial as a declaration of love and mutual respect for your partner and to recognize that if the need to separate ever arises, it will not cause disagreements that in turn create ongoing pain or regret for everyone," she said. "If you go into marriage of own free will, you should also be able to get out of it of your own free will."
As part of its work for International Agunah Day, which takes place annually on Ta'anit Esther, ICAR is set to launch an on-line campaign on YouTube aimed at encouraging couples to sign an agreement. Groups involved in fighting for the rights of agunot will also hold several film festivals throughout the country starting Thursday and continuing through next week.
Information on prenuptial agreements and how to go about making them legally binding can be found on ICAR's Web site,