Long Island, New York City and The Tri-State Area
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New York Jewish Divorce Law Attorney

Agunah Attorney Serving Roslyn, Woodbury, Five Towns, Rockville Centre, & Great Neck

Attorney Kroll has been serving his community of New York and surrounding areas for over 15 years. As an experienced and skilled New York divorce attorney, he has helped many of the Jewish faith to properly finalize their marriages both civilly and within the Jewish Laws. In the case of a woman being an agunah, Attorney Kroll can take an aggressive stance to represent you and assist you in obtaining a get.

An agunah (or chained woman) was traditionally a woman whose husband had disappeared, for example in wartime or at sea. Such a woman cannot remarry under Jewish law because her husband cannot be proven to be dead; in the event he is still alive, he and his wife are still married if he didn’t give her a get before disappearing. As a solution to this problem, in the contemporary State of Israel, many men write their wives a conditional get before leaving for military service. This document assures that if the husband is lost in battle, his wife will be free to remarry and go on with her life.

Today, many agunot find themselves chained by husbands who refuse to give them a get. In many cases, refusal to give a get is a form of spousal abuse, a way to exert control over a woman. An abusive husband may refuse to grant his wife a get because he wants to leverage his power in civil court so that she may be willing to give him custody or visitation with the children or perhaps be willing to ask for less spousal support or other economic support for granting her a get. This puts the abused woman in the impossible predicament of potentially being coerced into making decisions that may not be legally or financially in the best interests of her or her children so that she can secure a get. Being an agunah can create real hardship and sorrow for a woman, her children, and for all her friends and family. As an agunah, she is unable to marry again and have full control over her own life decisions.

Proactive Measures to Prevent Becoming an Agunah

One of the best ways to prevent the possibility of becoming an agunah is either to sign a prenuptial agreement or to write a statement into your ketbuah indicating that, in the event of divorce, the husband agrees to give a get and the wife agrees to accept it. The Orthodox rabbinate argues that writing such a clause (called the Lieberman Clause, in honor of the Reform rabbi who first introduced it) into the ketubah is non- halachic (invalid under Jewish law), but the Conservative rabbinate supports this measure. Many rabbis, including Orthodox rabbis, however, support the signing of a prenuptial agreement. This can be entirely separate from a secular prenuptial agreement, and can refer exclusively to the responsibility of both parties to give and accept a get should the necessity arise.

Few who are about to get married really want to think about divorce because no one thinks it will ever happen to them. But the problem of the agunah is a serious one, and it is wise to be protected against such a situation. Jewish couples already sign a ketubah, detailing their obligations to each other, so signing a prenuptial agreement is only one more step.

Many rabbis, including Orthodox rabbis, suggest that couples who are already married sign a postnuptial agreement stating that, in the event of divorce, the husband agrees to give a get and the wife agrees to accept it. This, too, may seem like an awkward step for a married couple to take, but it just another way to safeguard both parties’ rights in the event of the marriage’s demise.

At Jonathan E. Kroll & Associates, PLLC, we believe in being strong advocates on your behalf. We encourage you to meet with us to discuss the best way to protect yourself from future marital problems or to advise you on your best recourse should you find yourself in this position.

If you find yourself to be an agunah or want to make sure you do not become one, contact a Jewish divorce law attorney at Jonathan E. Kroll & Associates, PLLC who can provide you with specialized help.

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