Postnup Parties Get Happily Married Orthodox Couples To Plan for Divorce

Preventing 'Chained Wives' — One Marriage at a Time

Grandpa’s Got a Postnup: Kenneth and Annabelle Chapel, the author’s grandparents, will celebrate their 60th anniversary this summer.
Hody Nemes
Grandpa’s Got a Postnup: Kenneth and Annabelle Chapel, the author’s grandparents, will celebrate their 60th anniversary this summer.

By Hody Nemes

Published February 09, 2014, issue of February 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Bobby and Chelle Medow are happily married — and have been for almost 50 years. Yet one Sunday evening in January, the St. Louis couple made contingency plans for a divorce. And 31 other Orthodox married couples joined them.

They are part of a small but budding movement that is being promoted by some Orthodox rabbis around the country as a way to expand protection for Jewish women. But like its precursor, the prenuptial agreement, the postnuptial agreement now spreading within Orthodoxy’s liberal wings has yet to catch on more broadly as a way to prevent the phenomenon of agunot, or chained women, in the world of the traditionally observant.

Like a prenuptial agreement, postnups are designed to help solve the issue of men who refuse to grant their wives a religious divorce during or after a civil divorce settlement. Without such a written agreement from her husband, known as a get, a religiously observant woman may not remarry.

Under a system first proposed to address this inequity in the early 1990s by Modern Orthodoxy’s largest clerical association, prospective marriage partners can sign a prenuptial agreement that requires each partner to grant his or her spouse a get upon civil divorce or face steep fines enforceable in civil courts. But even as some Orthodox rabbis embraced the concept, requiring the couples they wed to sign these forms, the Rabbinical Council of America, which first proposed this idea, has itself never made using prenups a requirement for its member rabbis.

Among Orthodox rabbis who did embrace prenuptial contracts, another issue remained: Many Orthodox couples were wed long before the prenup appeared on the scene, or were married by a rabbi who did not require it. These women, though already married, were no less subject to peril in the event of a divorce.

“This isn’t something you just get grandfathered into,” said Rori Picker-Neiss, a fourth-year student at Yeshivat Maharat, a liberal Orthodox yeshiva for women. Picker-Neiss, who works for Bais Abraham Congregation, the venue for the St. Louis event, summed up the problem succinctly: “If we changed the policy and every Orthodox rabbi tomorrow started to only do weddings with a prenup, then we could maybe solve this problem in 50 to 60 years.”

As with prenuptial agreements, the postnuptial contracts require couples to appear before a predetermined beit din or rabbinic court for religious divorce arbitration when a civil divorce takes place. If the man subsequently refuses to grant his wife a get, the beit din will require him to pay his wife $150 per day until he relents — a fine enforceable in civil court.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.