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Legal Information: Religious

Abuse in the Jewish Community

Laws current as of August 7, 2018

Are there any proactive measures a woman can take to avoid becoming an “agunah” in case the marriage ends?

One of the best ways to prevent the possibility of becoming an agunah (“chained woman”) is to include a “Lieberman Clause” in either a prenuptial agreement or a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract). A Lieberman Clause is named for Rabbi Lieberman, the Reform rabbi who first introduced it. This clause says that in the event of divorce, the husband agrees to give a get and the wife agrees to accept it. You can learn more about including this kind of requirement in a prenuptial agreement on the Beth Din of America’s website The Prenup.

Many observant couples sign a prenuptial agreement agreeing to the terms of a future get. Increasingly Reform, Conservative, and modern Orthodox rabbis insist on the parties signing the prenup before officiating. Some of the Orthodox rabbinate argues that writing this kind of agreement into the ketubah is non-halachic (invalid under Jewish law), but many Orthodox rabbis would support writing this sort of clause into a prenuptial agreement. The Conservative rabbinate supports adding a Lieberman Clause into a ketubah or into a prenuptial agreement. A Jewish prenuptial agreement can be entirely separate from any secular (nonreligious) prenuptial agreement that the parties may or may not have, and can refer exclusively to the responsibility of both parties to give and accept a get should the need arise.

If a Lieberman Clause was not included in a ketubah or a prenuptial agreement, couples who are already married can sign a postnuptial agreement to include a Lieberman Clause. This may seem like an awkward step for a married couple to take. However, it is another way to safeguard both parties’ rights in the event of the marriage’s end.