Are Prenups Pernicious? Ctd

by Chris Bodenner

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The results of our Urtak survey show that 7% of married readers have had a prenup, 24% of unmarried readers say they plan to get a prenup, and 24% say it would be a dealbreaker if their intended spouse insisted on having a prenup. Regarding the question graphed above (where orange means “no” and blue means “yes”), male and female readers were both evenly split. A reader writes:

I write in response to the reader who had to declare bankruptcy after a divorce, I don’t think a prenup would have helped his case.  First, it’s not realisitic to think that a guy who couldn’t afford $10k for a divorce lawyer could afford to pay a lawyer for a prenup.  Second, I’m not sure a typical prenup would include a “no getting credit cards without the consent of both parties” clause because, if you need one of those, you probably shouldn’t get married.  Third, a prenup can be challenged in court, and a good divorce lawyer can find ambiguities in the prenup to drag out litigation.  So he could have been faced with $10k in legal bills even with a prenup.


I have a bit of a different perspective on prenups in one niche demographic group: Orthodox Jews.

You see, Orthodox Judaism is a patriarchal religion in which women have less rights – or, as it is sometimes spun by the “Modern Orthodox” wing of Orthodoxy (as opposed to the haredi, or fundamentalist, wing) – “different” rights.  When it comes to divorce, an Orthodox woman cannot get a religious divorce (and therefore cannot remarry) unless her husband grants her the divorce. When a man refuses to do so, the woman is referred to as an agunah, or a “chained woman.”  They can still get a civil divorce on the woman’s initiative, but not a religious divorce.

When I got married, my rabbi required me to sign a prenup that stated that in the event we get a civil divorce, I am required to grant my wife a religious divorce.  Many Modern Orthodox rabbis will not perform a wedding unless such a prenup is first signed.  It is impossible, in the view of Orthodoxy, to change the religious divorce requirements, but they are using the modern prenup as a way to equalize the power between men and women and ensure that women do not become chained.  For an example of what happens when such a prenup is not entered into, one needs to look no further than the US Congress.