My wife (a conservative convert) and I (raised conservative) were married in a conservative ceremony under a Chuppah which was hand made by my mother and given to us. Roughly six years later my wife committed multiple acts of adultery and the mandated divorce is in the proceedings.

She has not officially asked for a Get yet, but in the division of property, she is seeking possession of the Chuppah. I am also seeking possession of it- though it has less spiritual meaning to me now, it is still a treasured heirloom of my Mother’s handicraft and artwork.

I intend to pass it to my (and my wife’s) daughter someday. Needless to say, my poor mother is crushed and wants it to remain in “our” family if possible.

My question is- does she have any Halachich claim to it? Do I? To whom does a Chuppah “belong” in a marriage? Does her adultery nullify any claims to it? What are my obligations in regards to the Chuppah?

I have researched what I could according to Mishnah and found nothing. I do not have access to the Shulchan Aruch or Even Ha’Ezer right now but am looking to get one soon.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Answer:

The halachah of a woman who commits adultery is that she loses her rights to the ketubah, and gifts that were given to her also go back to the husband.

Furthermore, according to halachah, the covervative ceremony is possibly not valid (depends on witnesses, among other factors), and the conservative conversion is also possibly not valid (this is the ruling given by Rav Moshe Feinstein; however, this will again depend on circumstances, and cannot be decided without further investigation). Because of these factors, the wife will in any case not have rights according to Jewish Law.

However, she will not lose her financial rights as given her by the civil law of the land, and this will usually mean that she will receive half of the property — again, depending on circumstances.

The “half” that is usually given according to civil law is divided by principles of equity and fairness, and in this case, it certainly seems more fair that the Chuppah should stay with “your side” of the family.

In addition, the some authorities maintain that the entire idea of the Chuppah is that the husband brings the wife into his own domain, and therefore the Chuppah certainly “belongs” to the husband more than to the wife.

You should definitely claim your rights to it.

Best wishes for the future.

[Of course, this answer is given after hearing only one side of the argument, and is only given by way of halachic advice.]

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