I spoke with a Rabbi in Far Rockaway NY who indicated that in the frum world civil marriage license is not required. Just the religious ketubah is necessary?

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    Required for what? Religious purposes (which?)? Civil purposes? Please edit your question to clarify. – Isaac Moses Jan 28 '13 at 15:50
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    @msh210, I'm a little surprised that this got past the stickler side of you. It's not at all clear what this person is asking, and if the question is what I think it is, I'd vote to close as off-topic. Sounds like a legal question to me. It sounds to me like: Does the religious Ketubah serve as a legal marriage document if it's a "Frum" Ketubah (because in the Frum world Ketubah is taken more seriously than by other Jews)? – Seth J Jan 28 '13 at 16:15
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    @SethJ, I thought it was pretty clear: "in the frum world" seems to me to mean "according to societal norms in religious circles", "according to halacha", or both, but decidedly not "according to the law of the land". That said, considering that you and Isaac both think it's unclear, and your read ofit differs so widely from mine, I guess it's unclear. :-) I'll close it. – msh210 Jan 28 '13 at 17:39
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    user2321, after editing the question per the comments above, please comment here, including @msh210 in your comment so I see it, and I'll be glad to reopen the question. – msh210 Jan 28 '13 at 17:41
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    @SethJ, I'm not too concerned about that issue, in particular, with respect to the legitimacy of the question. An answer to that question could be of the form, "According to p. 77 of Planning your Jewish Wedding in the State of Hawaii, by Ch. A. Tuna, at least there, you don't need a marriage license if you have a ketuba. Of course, talk to your spiritual, legal, and/or financial advisor before making your own plans." – Isaac Moses Jan 28 '13 at 19:48

Not only the k'suva is necessary: there's more to a marriage, in Judaism, than that. But it's true that you don't, according to Judaism, need a New-York-State-legal marriage to be considered married. Moreover, religious Jewish societal norms are such that religious Jews will generally consider you to be married if you are married according to Judaism and not the state. However, a state marriage is necessary for other non-Judaism-related purposes, which may (I don't know) include some tax breaks, inheritance issues, custody issues in case of divorce, etc. My understanding [citation needed] is that most Jews (in the United States, anyway) who are married according to Judaism are also married legally.

  • I've heard that the rabbi officiating is supposed to check for a civil marriage license first. Regardless, I can say it's strongly normative. – Shalom Jan 28 '13 at 16:05
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    FURTHERMORE, as from Rabbi Yonah Reiss: if they get a civil marriage license, then we presume they enter the relationship on monetary terms similar to the general population, i.e. if they divorce, then property will be divided on equitable-distributions principles, even if beis-din rabbis are doing it. But if they opt out of a marriage license, then we'd work with the assumption that there is no monetary commitment beyond halachic requirements, which means in the event of a divorce the best she can hope for is approximately $20,000 (or whatever the value of a kesubah is today). – Shalom Jan 28 '13 at 16:11
  • I think that this answer is attempting to get around the unclarity currently in the question. I agree with SethJ's comment and have cast a vote to close pending clarification. – Isaac Moses Jan 28 '13 at 16:33
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    @DoubleAA, technically, what the heck are you talking about? Biblically, rabbinically or in terms of effecting Kiddushin/Nisuin? Because I'm pretty sure we require it these days by force of Beith Din at least. – Seth J Jan 28 '13 at 19:42
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    @DoubleAA so it's not necessary in the math sense of necessary, but it's necessary in the "requirement" sense. – msh210 Jan 28 '13 at 21:09

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