While numerous solutions to the agunah problem have been proposed, only one has received the backing of many prominent halachic authorities and consistently lived up to its promise of preventing situations of Get refusal.  This is the prenuptial agreement, a document that is binding by both Jewish and civil law.  It consists of a mechanism that authorizes a beit din to determine when a get should be given, and empowers the beit din with the necessary tools to ensure that its rulings will be followed.  Under the agreement, if the couple no longer lives together, the husband becomes obligated to provide monetary support to his wife at a fixed, daily rate (which adjusts for inflation) for so long as they remain married under Jewish law.  The default daily rate is $150, which comes to approximately $54,000 per year, but may be adjusted by a couple at the time they sign the agreement to reflect their actual standard of living.  Once the beit din orders the daily support to be paid, it becomes a legal obligation, enforceable in secular court.

Under the terms of the prenup, a husband is not fined or forced to give his wife a get (either of which could potentially harm the validity of the get as a matter of halacha).  The husband is free to decline to give a get and to remain married to his wife for as long as he wishes, provided he financially supports her pursuant to the prenup until he is prepared to end the marriage.  The agreement provides a clear incentive for the husband to give the get once it is clear the marriage is over, but is not halachically overreaching.

It was this support provision that was enforced by the Connecticut Superior Court in its recent decision in the case of Light v. Light.  In so doing, the court considered the husband’s claim that enforcing the prenuptial agreement would violate the First Amendment by requiring the court to “consider[] religious doctrines and ceremonies.”  However, the court rejected this argument, holding that the prenuptial agreement could be interpreted and enforced.

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