Feb 18, 2018

can one marry a wife with Bitcoin?

A young couple decided to marry, after knowing each other for 4 years. And now they are divorcing.

Mr has a managerial position in an investment house. Mrs is a senior bank employee. They decided to make a big fancy wedding, and Mr told Mrs that he would put a significant ("scary") amount in for the ketuba, and they agreed to use Bitcoin. They agreed on 30 Bitcoin, the value of which at the time came to 2 million NIS. At the time of the wedding, they all thought it was cute, as once camels and sheep were used and now it is Bitcoin.

Now that they are getting divorced, she wants to claim her ketuba of 2 million shekels. Mr, on the other hand, says he is fine with paying her ketuba, but wants to pay in the 30 Bitcoin he promised her, at today's value, which is much less.

It seems from the brief story unclear exactly what is written in the ketuba. Mrs says that at the time of the wedding she told him to just write "bitcoin worth 2 million shekel". It seems like he write 30 bitcoin, value being 2 million shekel.

Mrs also adds that being that he is an investment broker and she is a banker  they are both aware of the issues with Bitcoin and they both agreed to consider bitcoin legitimate for this purpose.

The dayanim now have to figure out what to do with this and how to settle the dispute.
source: Rotter

The easy way to settle the dispute, and the one preferred by beis din in most situations, is a compromise, and I would guess that's how this will end.

The actual value should be dependant on what precisely is written in the ketuba. Currency always changes value, so if it just straight up says bitcoin, I would think it would be valued at current value.. Otherwise every divorce (not using the shekel currency or without usng the standard ashkenazi text) would have a dispute over exchange rates.

In the meantime, it seems to me that marrying with bitcoin should be considered problematic, as it has no actual value and its value is just based on speculation. While perhaps a transaction can be done with bitcoin if a kinyan is made and both parties agree, marriage needs the kinyan of kessef, and bitcoin might not be considered such a kinyan. The beis din might have to decide this.

This is a very interesting case and could become a serious precedent.

If I see any follow up on this case with the decision of the beis din, I will be sure to bring it to your attention

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  1. https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/891946/rabbi-dani-schreiber/bitcoin-in-halacha/


  2. Start with a more basic question.

    Can you write a kesubah where the amount is stated in commodities rather than money? For example, "I owe you 5 tons of wheat" or "I owe you 4 kilograms of pure gold bullion."

    And what happens if the husband does that -- and then the price of the commodity goes up or down. How much does he pay?


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