First developed in the 1990s in an attempt to protect women from becoming agunot, halachic prenuptial agreements stipulate that the couple in a dissolving marriage must come before a predetermined court of Jewish law. If the man refuses to provide the get, he must continue to support her, typically in the range of $150 per day — an agreement enforceable in civil court.
Yet while halachic prenuptial agreements have been touted as a solution to the agunah problem, they have hardly been a panacea — because many are reluctant to sign them in the first place.
“Those who are most likely to need to use it are least likely to sign it,” said Rabbi Jeremy Stern, director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, or ORA, which says it deals with more than 150 cases of agunot per year.
The problem is unique to the Orthodox world, because non-Orthodox movements have rejected or found ways around traditional rules that give husbands practically all the leverage. And, frustratingly for advocates on behalf of agunot, most Orthodox couples hail from segments of the community that aren’t interested in halachic prenups.
“The problem is in the black-hat and haredi community, where they don’t have prenups or rabbis don’t agree to enforce the idea of having a prenup,” said Stanley Goodman, director of an organization known as GET – Getting Equal Treatment.
Talia Lavin, “‘The Prenup is Not Foolproof’”, The Jewish Week (6 December 2013), 14.
Judy Heicklen, president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, … says a Jewish legal solution must be found to obviate the need for enforcement in civil court.
“The prenup is not foolproof,” she said. “And on a philosophical level, we would hope that the halacha would be strong enough to find a solution within halacha and not have to rely on secular authorities to solve a human suffering issue that we should be able to solve within our own legal system.”
Talia Lavin, “‘The Prenup is Not Foolproof’”, The Jewish Week (6 December 2013), 17.