When Faith & Religion Impact Divorce: The Jewish Divorce “Get”

Torah and Yad

Faith and religion can play a major role in divorce, whether it is how someone’s faith shapes their views on marriage and divorce, or the specific rules about marriage and divorced a couple’s religion prescribes.

The complex interplay of faith and religion on divorce is perhaps no more readily visible than among followers Orthodox Judaism. When a husband and wife who practice Orthodox Judaism decide to divorce, in addition to obtaining a civil divorce, the couple must also follow Jewish divorce laws, including the granting of a a document given by a husband to a wife that declares the marriage over.

Referred to in the Talmud as a sefer k’ritut (scroll of cutting off), but more commonly referred to as a get, the document’s traditional text states that the woman is now free to marry another man.

What does a get say? According to Chabad.org, an example of a Jewish divorce get language includes the following statement:

On the __________ day of the week, the __________ day of the month of __________ in the year __________ after creation of the world, according to the calendaric calculations that we count here, in the city __________, which is situated on the__________ river, and situated near springs of water, I, __________ the son of __________, who today am present in the city __________, which is situated on the__________ river, and situated near springs of water, willingly consent, being under no duress, to release, discharge, and divorce you [to be] on your own, you, my wife __________, daughter of __________, who are today in the city of __________, which is situated on the__________ river, and situated near springs of water, who has hitherto been my wife. And now I do release, discharge, and divorce you [to be] on your own, so that you are permitted and have authority over yourself to go and marry any man you desire. No person may object against you from this day onward, and you are permitted to every man. This shall be for you from me a bill of dismissal, a letter of release, and a document of absolution, in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel.

_________ the son of _________ — witness
_________ the son of _________ — witness

Under Jewish Law, a couple remains married until the woman receives the get. Because husbands are the ones to “give the get,” those husbands who refuse wield enormous power over their wives. Even with a civil divorce decree in hand, a woman is not divorced in the Orthodox Jewish world until her husband gives her a get. Until then, she is an agunah, a “chained” woman. If she falls in love and decides to remarry without the get, she could be considered an adulteress, and her children from that union would be shunned.

We have seen cases in the news recently of the lengths wives go to in order to obtain a get from a reluctant husband, from taking to social media to make a public plea for a get to other more questionable methods to obtaining the get.

The get is a faith-based divorce requirement and does not affect a couple’s ability to pursue a civil divorce in the family courts. Are you in the process of civil divorce and obtaining or giving a get? Working with an attorney who is knowledgeable and understanding of the dual nature of your divorce can help put your mind at ease. To speak with an attorney, please contact us to schedule your free confidential consultation.