In Jewish wedding ceremonies, the couple signs a ketubah,a Jewish prenuptial contract.Historically, a ketubahwas signed to protect a wife and specified the husband’s obligations to her. Ketubot (plural of ketubah)stated a financial settlement the wife was to receive should the husband divorce her or die. Today, most Jewish couples view the ketubahas symbolic and not an enforceable Illinois prenuptial contract. However, some Jewish couples includethe optional Lieberman Clause in their ketubah and this can have signficiant legal implications that the couple may not realize.The Lieberman Clause was created in the middle of the 20th century by aprofessor to address the problem of “chained wives” not getting the “get“, or a Jewish divorce. Under Jewish law, until the husband choses to present his wife with a bill ofdivorce (the get), the couple is still married and the wife may not remarry or have children with another man. If the husband does not voluntarily give his wife a get and she has children with another man, even after obtaining a secular divorce, her children are mamzer (“bastards”) under Jewish law. Under Jewish law, a mamzer may only marry another mamzerand not a Jew. Further,the descendents of mamzer are also mamzer and the inherited stigma status continues for 10 generations or, to some rabbis, forever. So, it is very important tomany divorcing women that they obtain a get. Some husbands used the get as leverage in divorce negotiations. Professor Lieberman created the Lieberman Clause in an attempt to address the problem of men not providinga getto their soon to be ex-wives. Theissue is that the Lieberman Clause states that in the event of divorce, the divorce will be adjudicated or decided by the rabbinic court (the Beth Din). This means that issues of alimony, child custody, property division could be decided by the rabbis sitting on the Beth Din and not by the secular court of law. Thus, theLieberman Clause introduces legal ambiguity thatcould be detrimental.

During my research, I came across what may be a solution and alternative to the legal ambiguity caused by the Lieberman Clause. If you have questions about your ketubah or your get, callthe Chicago family law and divorce law firm, The Witt Law Firm, P.C., at (312) 948-9884 or email info@thewittlawfirm.com. The above blog post does not constitute legal advice.Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney.