Religious Prenups

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Agreements on Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Not only are prenuptial agreements on the rise among all engaged couples, they are also becoming very popular for religious couples. What is the intersection of prenups and religion?

Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are contracts entered into before marriage that outline the division of assets in case of divorce. They may touch on things like spousal support (alimony), title or ownership of businesses and properties, and even financial duties and responsibilities during the marriage.

While most people think prenuptial agreements deal with assets and alimony, there are a lot of other concerns that can be handled:

– Will you have to care for an older parent

– Who pays or supports the house when going back to school

– Agreeing to spending habits

– Who pays for what credit card debt

– Who handles the costs of a business

– Who pays the taxes

– What happens if someone dies or becomes disabled

Now there is something new to consider: your religion. I’ve written before about religious marriage contracts, especially Muslim Mehr agreements.

Currently in Florida, the issue of whether a Muslim prenuptial agreement is enforceable depends on whether it complies with Florida’s secular contract law. If so, secular terms may be enforceable as any contractual obligation.

What about Jewish Prenups? The halachic prenup, as it is called, is a document binding under Jewish law that helps to ensure that a woman, would be able to obtain a religious divorce from her husband.

The reason, as many young couples are discovering:

“Part of going into a relationship with someone is making sure that you trust each other,” said Mr. Morrison. “We care enough about each other now to be protected in the unlikely event something were to change.”

The halachic prenup – which dates back decades and has been championed by the Beth Din of America, the U.S.’s biggest rabbinical court – has gone mainstream in some circles as a mechanism to avoid the messy, sometimes abusive situations that advocates say can arise as divorce becomes more common in the Orthodox Jewish community.

The Catholic Church does not have a blanket prohibition of prenups. In certain cases, they can be quite valid and helpful. When a widow marries a widower, for example, and they both have children from their previous marriages, a prenup is a legitimate way of determining what is marital property and what is non-marital as a basis for determining the inheritance rights of each spouse’s children.