Ketubahs & Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

November 27, 2023

Ketubahs, or Jewish marriage contracts, are an important component of many Jewish marriages.  They outline the rights and responsibilities of the bride and groom.  In fact, Ketubahs, which back 2000 years, are one of the first known legal documents in any culture to give financial and legal rights to women. But what happens to a ketubah in a divorce?

Read on to learn more.

Background on Ketubahs, Religious Marriage, and Civil Marriage

Clergy members like rabbis are authorized to perform legally binding, civil marriages in Connecticut.  Weddings performed by rabbis in the Jewish tradition generally are simultaneously legal, civil ceremonies.

In other words, if you have a marriage license, whether you have a civil marriage ceremony performed by a justice of the peace or a religious ceremony conducted by a rabbi, you generally still have a binding, legal marriage under Connecticut law.

Read: Civil Marriage vs Religious Marriage

Ketubahs and Divorce

Many couples see their Ketubah as a religious document rather than as a legal document.  In some cases, however, a spouse will seek to enforce the Ketubah in a divorce.

Whether a Connecticut divorce will enforce a Katubah depends upon the nature of the terms or provisions in that specific Ketubah.  There are two main issues the court considers.  First, would enforcing the Ketubah violate the First Amendment.  Second, does the Ketubah at issue meet the standards for an enforceable prenuptial agreement under Connecticut law.

Read: Understanding the Limitations of a Prenuptial Agreement

Katubahs and the First Amendment

In order for a Connecticut divorce court to enforce a Ketubah, it can’t violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”

What this means is that a Connecticut divorce judge can’t take actions that “foster an excessive entanglement with religion.”  The Connecticut divorce court can, however, resolve disputes involving a Ketubah if it can do so by applying “neutral principles of law.”

Ketubahs and Prenups

A “prenup” or a”prenuptial agreement” allows future spouses to decide and determine what will happen to their finances at the end of their marriage.

In order for a Katubah to be enforceable by the court, it must follow the requirements of Connecticut law, including those lists in section 46b-36g of the Connecticut Statutes.

For example, a Ketubah is most likely to be enforced as a prenup if:

  • Both parties received a fair and reasonable disclosure of the amount, character and value of property, income and financial liabilities prior to signing the agreement.
  • Both parties entered into the agreement voluntarily and without force or duress.
  • Both parties had a reasonable opportunity to obtain the advice and guidance of their own independent legal counsel.
  • The agreement is not so one-sided that it was unconscionable when entered into and is not unconscionable at the time one

Next Steps

Now that you have learned more about marriage in Connecticut, you may want to check out our Divorce Information and Facts for answers on other topics. Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals.  Then, we take those goals along with the facts of your case and analyze them so that our divorce attorneys can present you with recommendations and options on how to move forward.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC