April 18, 2024
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April 18, 2024
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The Purpose of a Halachic Prenup

(Courtesy of ORA)

Dear ORA,

After dating for a few years, I’ve finally meant someone I really like. Things are getting serious and we hope to be engaged soon. But there’s one snag: When I mentioned the Halachic Prenup in passing, he was adamant that he doesn’t want to sign one. What should I do? Is it worth breaking up a great relationship over something so minor?

Sincerely,
Help!


Dear Help,

Oy—there’s nothing worse than a promising relationship hitting a bump in the road, is there? Especially when we’ve waited to find someone we genuinely click with, the last thing we want to do is rock the boat. This is a hard one.

The bad news is that I’m not going to tell you what to do. When it comes to such important and intimate life decisions, you have to make them for yourself. But when we’re making such critical choices, the more information, resources and support we have, the better—so that’s where I come in.

When I first hear of a situation like yours, my first assumption is not that your potential fiance must be an evil, misogynist waste of humanity. Far from it. Most of the time, resistance to the Halachic Prenup boils down to education, or lack thereof.

In an ideal world, by the time a young, frum person like you is out on the dating scene, they will have been introduced to the Prenup multiple times, all the way from a high school senior seminar to campus programming in college to social media posts and advertisements. While our team at ORA is working hard to make this true for as much of the Orthodox community as possible, there are still many men and women who don’t hear about the Prenup at all, or hear about it so vaguely they’re not quite sure what it is. And when we don’t have any context for the Prenup, we associate it with couples who are so sure they’re going to get divorced, they’re figuring out the details in advance.

So in lieu of years of educational programming, here’s a quick crash course on the Prenup you can share with people in your life, whether you’re dating them or not:

1. It’s Not That Kind of Prenup

I know, I know, we call it “the prenup”—but really, this is light years away from a Hollywood-style prenup. Signing a Halachic Prenup is not about planning for the logistics of a future divorce; it’s about taking a step to eradicate get refusal from our communities. Stereotypical prenups are about protecting yourself for your own benefit; Halachic Prenups are about protecting others for the community’s benefit.

2. What You’re Committing to Is…

… Not withholding the get or using it in an abusive way. Really, that’s it. While there are optional sections where you can ask the beit din to adjudicate custody and/or finances, the baseline text of the Prenup focuses on the get. After signing, you walk out of the room with all the legal rights you walked in with.

3. It’s Halachic (And Actually Supports the Halachic Process!)

When people are unfamiliar with the Prenup, they might worry that it’s “out there” and “super modern” and “just not done.” But actually, the Prenup has significant rabbinic support. (For a list of rabbinic endorsements, see the ORA website at www.getora.org.) In fact, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) requires member rabbis to officiate at weddings only when a Halachic Prenup is signed. Prenups don’t take away from the rabbinic process, but support it, allowing religious court rulings to be enforced in the civil legal system.

4. It’s a Sign of Relationship Strength

Finally, the primary reason many people are uncomfortable about the Prenup when they first hear about it is that it seems like something couples would only use if they were worried—if they thought divorce, and even get refusal, might happen to them. But the truth is, insecure couples are the last in line to sign Halachic Prenups. By signing this document, you are telling your partner that you want them to be treated with love and respect no matter what—even if the very worst happens.

So where does that leave you, and your budding relationship? First, share the points above. If your potential fiance has a better understanding of what the Prenup does—and doesn’t—do, he is much more likely to be on board. Start with education, not assumptions.

Still no luck? Well, now is the time to try an old-fashioned remedy: Clear, honest conversation. Don’t beat around the bush—share that this is very important to you, and why. See how you as a couple are able to navigate that conversation, because open communication is fundamental to building healthy and happy relationships.

Whatever you decide, don’t lose sight of what you deserve—genuine, trustworthy, committed love—no matter what.

Yours,
ORA
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