Who should sign the CWJ prenup?
The CWJ prenuptial agreement is suitable for all couples who enter into Jewish marriage, whether they marry under the auspices of the Israeli Rabbinate or in a private halakhic ceremony in Israel. It is also suitable for couples who marry in halakhic ceremonies in Israel while additionally obtaining a civil marriage certificate abroad.
What does the CWJ prenup contain?
The CWJ prenup contains legal and halakhic mechanisms that protect a couple from both get recalcitrance (when a spouse is unwilling to give a get) as well as aginut (when a spouse is physically unable to give a get).
According to Jewish and Israeli law, a woman is not divorced until her husband delivers a Jewish bill of divorce—a get—to her. If he refuses, she remains married indefinitely. If a woman refuses to accept a get, the husband may also have difficulty remarrying, though in ways that are not as severe as faced by women. The CWJ prenup protects both men and women from get recalcitrance.
The prenup comprises two parts: the legal part (pages 1-3) and the halakhic part (page 4-5)
The legal part prevents get refusal and extortion as follows:
Increased spousal support: The party wishing to divorce must notify the other party. If a get is not granted within a year from this date, the party delaying the divorce (be it the husband or the wife) will be obligated to pay the other party $2000 per month or 50% of their monthly salary, whichever is the higher sum.
Compensation for damages: The prenup defines get refusal as a form of abuse and grants authority to civil courts to award monetary compensation for damages incurred.
Authority to Family Court: The prenup stipulates that any potential divorce proceedings between the parties will be conducted in the Family Court (except for arranging the actual get, which must take place in the Rabbinical Court). This includes enforcement the prenup as well as ancillary divorce matters, such as division of marital property, custody and child support.
Voiding Extortionate Agreements: The prenup voids any unconscionable agreements made under the threat of get refusal.
The halackic part of the agreement sets terms upon which a rabbinic court can declare a Jewish marriage null. This mechanism can be invoked in the event of a tragedy, such as a husband’s medical incapacitation. It also provides a solution for get-refusal cases that cannot be overcome by other means, such as sanctions by the Rabbinical Court or an agreement. This halakhic bill is enforced in a rabbinical court. It can be enacted by a spouse petitioning a rabbinical court after the couple has not lived under the same roof for at least 18 months. The marriage can also be annulled in the event of a woman needing ‘chalitza’ (an exemption from levirate marriage, if her husband dies without children).
How do we sign the prenup?
For part one, each partner initials each page and signs in full on page 3. There is no need for notarization nor authorization by a court of law. While it is preferable to authenticate the agreement by an attorney, the agreement is still valid without it.
Part two, the halakhic bill, must be signed in the presence of two kosher witnesses (observant men who are not related to each other nor to either of the spouses).
When do we sign the prenup?
Both parts of the agreement must be signed before the wedding ceremony. It can be signed several weeks before or immediately prior. The halakhic part of the agreement (pages 4-5) may be signed during the marriage ceremony itself, at the same time as signing the ketubah, but no later.
Is it possible to sign the prenup once we’re already married?
No, but married couples who have not signed the prenup are able (and advised!) to sign CWJ’s
post-nuptial agreement, which prevents get refusal, as well as the
Pledge for Compassion and Dignity, which prevents aginut in the event of a tragedy.
What makes this agreement different from other pre-nuptial agreement options?
The CWJ prenup comprehensively addresses all of the predicaments that may arise at the dissolution of a marriage. This includes aginut, get refusal, mamzerut (halakhic illegitimacy of children born from forbidden unions) and chalitzah (the exemption from levirate marriage in the event a husband dies before having children).
Most agreements only address get refusal by stipulating monthly financial payments. They do not specifically prevent extortion in exchange for the get. They do not address issues of aginut, which may occur if a husband goes missing, is captured in war or becomes medically or mentally incapacitated. Additionally, many agreements are rendered ineffective in cases of extreme get refusal, where men may prefer to incur debt and/or suffer severe sanctions—such as incarceration—rather than grant their wives a get. The CWJ prenup is the only prenup that includes specific conditions to solve all such issues.
Another significant difference between this agreement and others is the method by which it is enforced. The CWJ prenup specifically authorizes the Family Court to enforce the legal portion of the CWJ prenup. Other prenuptial agreement options leave this question open, or appoint a private arbitrator instead.
Is it possible to sign only the legal part of the prenup, or only the halakhic part of it?
Yes, but we recommend signing both for the most comprehensive protection.
Does the prenup encourage marital counseling?
Of course. In the introduction, the prenup states specifically that reconciliation is preferred and encouraged. However, unlike other prenups, it does not mandate marriage counseling as a prerequisite for utilizing the prenup. We believe that a couple should choose whether to rehabilitate their marriage at their own initiative and terms.
Is the prenup upheld in civil and rabbinical courts?
Most often, the agreement is effective before it even reaches the stage of enforcement because it acts as a deterrent to withholding the get in the first place.
The first part of the agreement (pages 1-3) is enforced in a civil court, like any other legal contract.
The halakhic part of the agreement (page 4-5) is enacted in a rabbinic court. While no practical cases have sought to implement it in the Rabbinical Court so far, we believe that CWJ’s halakhic bill would be utilized by the Rabbinical Court in the event of extreme circumstances of aginut. In the past, the Rabbinical Courts have been willing to utilize lesser-used mechanisms, such as get zikui, to solve particularly deadlocked cases. So too, in cases where the Rabbinic Court has little options, the CWJ prenup can provide a welcome opportunity for halakhic recourse.
Is the prenup enforceable internationally?
The legal part of the prenup is written in a manner that we expect can be used anywhere. However, because each country has its own contract laws, it is best to review the prenup with a local attorney. The halakhic bill is valid halakhically, regardless of country of enforcement.
What do we do with the prenup after we’ve signed it?
After signing the prenup, keep one copy. You may choose to store it along with your ketubah. While the prenup is valid even if you do not upload a copy of it, we strongly recommend that you send us a digital copy of your signed agreement for safekeeping by clicking on the “upload agreement” buttons in the main menu or at the bottom of this page.