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Halacha: Having an impact on civil court settlements

Prenuptial agreements are usually a good idea for couples, but did you know that certain rabbis in the United States require them to marry a bride and groom?

Jewish law, also known as halacha, requires that those going through a divorce get a bill of divorce for the wife. If the wife doesn't get a bill of divorce, it's not valid religiously, and the woman cannot remarry in the faith.

The woman is then referred to as an agunah, which translates to "chained wife." Usually, in this faith, it is common for husbands not to give the bill of divorce to their wives because they want power over negotiations in their civil divorce settlement.

The prenuptial agreement was established approximately 25 years ago in the Modern Orthodox faith. Now, many rabbis require one because it guarantees that a man who no longer lives with his wife must continue to support his wife at a rate of around $150 per day. That's enforceable in secular court.

While the husband is prohibited from withholding the bill of divorce to coerce the wife into signing property division agreements, the new prenuptial agreement encourages them not to do so due to the financial impact that it will have. Overall, the prenuptial agreement in this situation is a way to guarantee that no spouse has more control over the other's decisions, which is a goal of the halachic prenuptial agreement.

Working with an attorney who is versed in prenuptial agreements is important in both civil and secular courts. Protection against manipulation is vital for many couples, especially in situations like this.

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