Jewish Prenup and Divorce Issues

In Jewish wedding ceremonies, the couple signs a ketubah,a Jewish prenuptial contract. Historically, a ketubahwas signed to protect a wife and specified the husband’s obligations to her. Ketubot (plural of ketubah)stated a financial settlement the wife was to receive should the husband divorce her or die. Today, most Jewish couples view the ketubahas symbolic and not an enforceable Illinois prenuptial contract. However, some Jewish couples include the optional Lieberman Clause in their ketubah and this can have significant legal implications that the couple may not realize. The Lieberman Clause was created in the middle of the 20th century by a professor to address the problem of “chained wives” not getting the “get“, or a Jewish divorce. Under Jewish law, until the husband choses to present his wife with a bill of divorce (the get), the couple is still married and the wife may not remarry or have children with another man. If the husband does not voluntarily give his wife a get and she has children with another man, even after obtaining a secular divorce, her children are mamzer (“bastards”) under Jewish law. Under Jewish law, a mamzer may only marry another mamzerand not a Jew. Further, the descendants of mamzer are also mamzer and the inherited stigma status continues for 10 generations or, to some rabbis, forever. So, it is very important to many divorcing women that they obtain a get. Some husbands used the get as leverage in divorce negotiations. Professor Lieberman created the Lieberman Clause in an attempt to address the problem of men not providing a getto their soon to be ex-wives. The issue is that the Lieberman Clause states that in the event of divorce, the divorce will be adjudicated or decided by the rabbinic court (the Beth Din). This means that issues of alimony, child custody, property division could be decided by the rabbis sitting on the Beth Din and not by the secular court of law. Thus, the Lieberman Clause introduces legal ambiguity that could be detrimental. During my research, I came across what may be a solution and alternative to the legal ambiguity caused by the Lieberman Clause.

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If you are looking for legal advice and representation with an Illinois divorce, schedule a consultation with experienced Chicago divorce attorney, Tanya Witt, at (312) 500-5400 or

Representing men and women in Chicago divorce and child custody cases.

This blog does not constitute legal advice. Please consult with an attorney regarding your specific case.