Prenuptial Agreements: An extravagance of the wealthy or a long standing tradition of faith?

jewsish tampa divorce lawyerA prenuptial agreement or a “prenup” can be a difficult thing to discuss with your soon-to-be-spouse. Often times, there is fear from both parties that a prenup is forecasting the end of marital union before it even begins. Further, parties considering a prenup may fear that the other party will see a request for a prenup as trying to exclude them from certain assets that they would otherwise legally be entitled. Not so and not so! I’m writing today to inform you of the many thousands of years of tradition behind the prenup and how it can protect all parties involved, not just the economically greater of the two parties.

There is a long standing tradition of religious prenup law that all Tampa Jewish attorneys are very familiar with. The kelubah, a prenuptial contract, is an integral part of the Jewish marriage ceremony and is signed and read aloud at the marriage ceremony. It encompasses much more than just allocation of assets and outlines responsibilities for both the husband and the wife in ares such as if divorce will be allowable in accordance with tradition as well as food, clothing, marital relations, and providing support to the wife if divorce is agreed upon. (Yes, as a Jewish attorney in Tampa, I was born into the oldest written tradition for alimony!) The kelubah is agreed upon by both parties in front of all wedding guests, a tradition family planners would strongly support! Everyone knows what the couple is getting into and so everyone is involved in the sanctity of the marriage agreement. The kelubah protects all parties and is especially good today at protecting women seeking a divorce by Jewish law. Since, in Jewish law (Halakha), both parties must freely agree to a divorce, many women seeking to end a devastated marriage against their husbands wishes are called “agunah”, victims of divorce refusal.

These types of prenup agreements can hold up in a secular court of law like our U.S. state and federal courts systems. In fact, a recent article by Rabbi Fink mentions “Jewish courts apply Jewish law and are held as binding by American courts. The Jewish courts are called Beis Din and their decisions are accepted as binding arbitration by the legal system.” [1]

“In fact, here is a quote from an Illinois appeal from someone who was excommunicated in Beis Din and sued the Beis Din for intentional infliction of emotional distress:

Plaintiff has aligned himself with this particular Orthodox Jewish community and by doing so has accepted its laws, rules and procedures. One of these laws, of which plaintiff admits he was aware, allows for excommunication where, as here, the Rabbinic Court determines that plaintiff has refused three consecutive summonses to appear before it. Because of plaintiff’s actions and knowledge of this community’s rules and practices, the actions of the Rabbinical Court of which plaintiff complains are not so outrageous as to support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Thomas v. Fuerst 345 Ill.App.3d 929

The secular courts are very deferential to the religious courts when the parties have agreed to use a religious court. Jews have experienced this many many times.” [1]

As a Jewish attorney in Tampa I, S. David Anton of Anton Legal Group, have a unique understanding of a prenup that protects both parties. There is no reason for either party to see the introduction of a prenup as an affront to the sanctity of the fututre marriage. It is meant to quantify and celebrate how each party agrees to see each other and take care of each other in all circumstances. If you or someone you know thinks a prenup might be the next step, contact a Tampa Jewish attorney who has the experience and knowledge to take the fear out of the prenup process. Contact S. David Anton of Anton Legal Group!

David Anton is a third generation Tampa Bay attorney who has handled all aspects of dissolution actions since 1985.