Jewish law ‘forbids conditional marriages’

Jewish divorce, Israel

Jewish law forbids ‘conditional marriages’ the senior Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem has insisted.

As the name suggests, such marriages have conditions attached which are supposed to  mean they can be annulled retrospectively if they are not met. The Rabbinical Court had been asked to approve such a marriage, which had not been properly registered and featured a n unauthorised prenuptial agreement, setting out various conditions that would lead to annulment.

These included separation for a defined period, the woman becoming pregnant by another man and the husband dying without children. In the latter case, a traditional chalitzah repudiation ceremony would be required in orthodox communities to free the dead man’s brother from the obligation to marry his sister-in-law.

The rabbinical judges were unimpressed by the unregistered marriage presented to them, Arutz Sheva reports. Rabbi Uriel Lavie noted:

“The applicants were aware of the need to register their marriage, but since they sought to marry in a way not accepted by the recognized Rabbinate offices, they circumvented the procedure and then asked the Court to confirm that they were married according to Jewish Law.”

None of the conditions stipulated had been valid under rabbinical law, the court declared. The law accepted only death or divorce as the end of a marriage.

The couple in question had, it continued, thought by “presenting a fait accompli to the court, they could ‘force’ it to approve the procedure retroactively, thus voiding of all meaning both Halakhah [the boyd of traditional Jewish law] and Israeli regulations. ”

Nevertheless, the couple would be stuck in legal limbo and unable to marry anyone else until they married in a legal manner the Judges concluded.

The couple were represented by woman’s rights lawyer Batya Kahana-Dror, who announced that she now planned to appeal the decision to the Israeli Supreme Court. She claimed the rabbinical court had been motivated by a desire to maintain its authority.

She told Arutz Sheva:

“The problem is that this ruling leaves them in limbo… and also determines that the very making of the conditions places their marriage in doubt, and this, in my opinion, stems from policy considerations. On the other hand, the ruling proves that the couple had no choice but to wed outside the Rabbinic Court, because the Court does not allow them to enter marry ‘on condition.'”

She added:

“In my opinion, conditional marriage is the only way to marry Halakhically and prevent divorce-refusal.”

Photo by Rico Grimm via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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