Ask the Rabbi

Is a Ketubah and Jewish marriage if its made with conditions


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 23, 5783
If a couple obtain a ketubah and have a religiously valid ceremony, is the Ketubah/religious marriage still valid if they additionally agree that the Ketubah is just to keep the parents happy etc. but that they do not intend to be actually (legally/civilly) married or have any financial responsibility and they sign an agreement to that effect (without telling the parents!) or is the ketubah invalid because it was entered into in bad faith? This is in NYS, USA if relevant.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. In general, any legal document, or agreement, entered into by two people is binding, no matter what thoughts the sides might have had in their hearts at the time. So, a couple who married according to Jewish law are considered married and obligated fully to what they signed etc. even if the motivation and thoughts they had at the time were “in bad faith.” None the less, the agreement was “entered into”, and is binding. (There are extreme exemptions to this – but this case does not sound like one of them). This is very important, as a married couple has many obligations both during the marriage, and in how to dissolve a marriage. If the couple is planning to not live together as husband and wife they should definitely go and talk to Rabbi who married them, to find out what to do (they will probably need a religious divorce [a “Get”] – which can be arranged). Blessings.
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