If while a married couple are divorcing but before the husband has given a get at the Beit Din, the woman gets pregnant from a new boyfriend, can a get be given retroactively? Would it help that the husband had at some point beforehand told her that for all he cares she can date / go out with whomever she wants to, can prove he said so in a dated email exchange with the woman, and would cooperate in an effort to prevent mamzerut?

  • I think I saw this somewhere here already (why can't one pull the trick from the beginning of Kesubos) Nov 26, 2013 at 17:49
  • possible duplicate of How to fix Mamzeirim Nov 26, 2013 at 20:13
  • @ShmuelBrin, the mechanism proposed here - a get given now to apply in the past - is different from the one proposed in that question - a get given in the past whose status is to be determined now.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 27, 2013 at 4:10
  • @IsaacMoses My question was about giving a get now to apply in the past (through Rabanan being Mafkia Kiddushin) Nov 27, 2013 at 6:03
  • @ShmuelBrin, OK. Still a different mechanism than this, which doesn't include the concept of hafka-a.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 27, 2013 at 8:02

2 Answers 2


Hello Baal Rishon, and welcome to J.SE.

It sounds like there's a very thorny situation underfoot, and this is going to require a real-life expert rabbi. I strongly recommend you contact the experts at the Beth Din of America. May G-d help everyone involved in this difficult matter, and may it be concluded in such a way that the pain to everyone involved is minimized.

Hopefully we can give some background information:

Firstly, I should point out a halacha that has been the saving grace in many situations like one -- a child can only be rendered a mamzer if both its biological parents were Jewish.

But basically, no; there is no way to give a Get now that would have it work back in time. The Talmud Gittin 17a says that a Get must accurately document its date to prevent a man from falsely claiming that he gave it before his adulterous wife (now ex-wife) had relations with another man.

The Talmud describes a small handful of rare situations in which the rabbis retroactively annul the entire marriage, but these are few and far between and would require an expert.

Consent to the adultery doesn't help.

However, the case could occasionally be made that the entire marriage was a joke to begin with (e.g. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein addresses a sham wedding conducted just to obtain a green card), or that the marriage was based on faulty premises because at the time of the wedding there was some serious deal-breaker preexisting condition of which one spouse was not aware. If the intention was clearly an "open marriage" from Day One, it could perhaps be argued that this was never halachic marriage. Once again, this is a job for an expert to address.

Lastly, if the first wedding did not meet Orthodox standards (e.g. two adult, male, non-related, Shabbat-observant witnesses), many rabbis would declare the child not a mamzer. This was the opinion of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and, after some deliberation, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveichik.


A get can only be a get from the time that it is actually given, so it cannot be given retroactively.

But a dated get can be given with a stipulation that it will not take effect until a certain date or until a certain condition is fulfilled in the future, at which time the get will be effective from the time it was given.

  • this makes me wonder whether every man can be required to give a conditional get to his wife on the day of the marriage so that, if a condition is met (that they settle a divorce in secular court?) the get is delivered by the beit din so he has no choice to be recalcitrant. just a random wondering.
    – rosends
    Nov 26, 2013 at 14:49
  • 1
    @Danno That would mean retroactively they lived and had kids together for possibly decades out of wedlock.
    – Double AA
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:12
  • 2
    @Danno the idea was proposed over half a century ago. One triggering condition suggested was "if we remain not under the same roof for one year straight" or the like. It's not the happiest of ways to start off a marriage, and Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer pointed out that many husbands going through rough times, who would otherwise stick around and fix things (or make a proper clean break), would choose to just run away instead, knowing that their wives will be un-married automatically within a year. (I.e. there are public-policy considerations of unintended effects.)
    – Shalom
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:17
  • @Danno hebrewbooks.org/595
    – wfb
    Nov 26, 2013 at 16:35
  • @Shalom, thanks for the history - I was shooting from the hip so it is nice to know that I came up with something which someone else at least considered. I was suggesting a more extreme condition so that walking away wouldn't be a simple option and if the get was tied to a prenup the man couldn't run away leaving the woman high and dry. An RCA prenup is not the happiest way to start a marriage either but I signed one. I understand that it isn't a viable solution but I am just playing with options.
    – rosends
    Nov 26, 2013 at 16:53

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