Divorce

What is a Get

A Get is a Jewish divorce. Jewish divorce requires the consent of both the husband and wife; there is no requirement that either party establishes grounds for divorce such as unreasonable behaviour, separation or adultery. All that has to be shown is that both the husband and the wife agree to the Get taking place. The basic laws of the Jewish religious divorce can be found in the Bible (Devorim/Deuteronomy 24: 1-5).

 

The Get Process

On receipt of an application for a Get, our Beth Din invites both husband and wife to attend interviews at the Beth Din. The average duration of each interview is approximately fifteen minutes. During the course of this interview, the Dayan will seek to check the names and other relevant data relating to the writing of the Get. Applicants will be asked for details of their father's English and Hebrew names.

 

The Dayan will also seek to ascertain if there are any problems which may cause difficulties at a later stage in the process.

 

The Writing of the Get

At a second session, the husband will attend the Beth Din and instruct the Scribe to write the Get. The Beth Din will present the husband with writing materials, which the husband will then give over to the Scribe so that he can write the Get on the husband's own materials.

 

Before instructing the Scribe, the husband will be asked to give proof of his identity. He will also be asked to confirm that he is giving the Get of his own free will.

 

Once the instruction of the Scribe has taken place (this takes about twenty five minutes) the Scribe, together with two witnesses (Eidim) and the husband's representative (shaliach), where appropriate, adjourn to a writing room. The Scribe then writes the Get. During this time, the husband and wife may leave the premises but must stay in London. The Get is usually completed, signed and witnessed within a period of two to two and a quarter hours.

Once the document is complete and the Get has been checked by a Dayan, it is ready to be presented to the wife or in the event that the parties do not wish to meet, to the husband’s representative.

 

When the Get is handed over, the wife will be asked if she is willing to receive the Get. If she is, her husband or (in the event that the husband is not present) his Shaliach, will recite a form of words at the request of the Dayanim, which indicates that on receipt of this Get, his wife will be free from the marriage. The Get is then placed into the wife's hands.

 

Once the Get is in her hands, the procedure is:

  • The wife clasps the Get between her hands (there should be no rings on her fingers) and lifts the Get above her head as a sign that she has acquired it for herself.

  • The wife then tucks the Get into her pocket or under one arm, turns away from her husband or his representative and walks several steps away from him as a sign that she has asserted her independence from him.

  • She then hands the Get back to the Dayan, so that it can be checked again by the Eidim (witnesses).

 

Once received, the Get is the wife’s property. However, it is standard practice to deposit the Get with the Beth Din, which has ample storage facilities. The wife is then presented with a certificate, in Hebrew and English, stating that the Get has been duly executed and that the parties are free to remarry under Jewish law. The husband receives a similar certificate as well.

 

Any party who feels that he or she is in need of moral support is welcome to bring a friend or family member with them to ease the strain and to provide some company. The Beth Din enjoys the services of a voluntary group of female Get helpers, who work to welcome wives to the Beth Din when they come to collect a Get and to provide valuable moral support when it is needed. These ladies are experienced in the Get procedure and are helpful and sympathetic. The Get procedure is a religious ceremony and ladies will be expected to dress modestly and cover their heads. A selection of scarves is available.

 

Once the Get has been received by the wife, she is reminded by the Dayan that there are two restrictions upon remarriage. The first, which is biblical, is that a Cohen may not marry a divorcee. The second, which is rabbinic, is that a period of ninety two days should elapse before she can remarry. In due course, after full payment has been made and the Decree Absolute has been obtained, a Get certificate is normally issued to both the husband and the wife as evidence that they are properly divorced in accordance with Jewish law.

 

Where a remarriage is being contemplated by other party, they will need to obtain authorisation for this. The registration formalities involved include the presentation and, usually the surrender of the Get certificate. The Get certificate should therefore be retained in a safe place.

 

For more information and answers to the following questions please click here to go to the United Synagogue website

 

  • Who Needs A Get?

  • How do I Apply For A Get?

  • What Will Happen Next?

  • Do I Have To Meet My Spouse At Any Time During The Get Process?

  • Can I Apply For A Get Before Completion Of The Civil Divorce? 

  • What Happens If I Remarry Without A Get?

  • Who Should Pay For The Get?

  • How Much Does A Get Cost?

  • Why Does A Get Cost So Much?

  • What Happens If I Do Not Pay For My Get?

  • What Happens If My Spouse Is Resident Abroad?

  • I Married In A Religious Ceremony Overseas. Do I Need A Civil Divorce As Well As A Get? 

  • My Spouse Lives In Israel And I Live In London. Would I Need A Civil Divorce? 

  • Do I Need A Lawyer?

  • Do I Need The Consent Of My Spouse For A Get?

7 GOLDEN RULES for GETTING a GET

by Deanna Levine,Co-author of Getting your Get

Introduction

A Get is a Jewish divorce document which dissolves the marriage of a Halachically Jewish couple, ie both are Jewish as recognised by an Orthodox Beth Din, a court of Jewish law. When a couple marry, there is a single ceremony which combines both the Jewish and civil marriage requirements. The civil law permits this. Should they divorce, however, two separate divorces are required: the civil one and the Get (Jewish divorce).

 

If there is no Get, but only a civil divorce, Orthodox Jewish law does not permit a couple to remarry under the auspices of the United Synagogue or under any other Orthodox auspices. The couple remain married for all Jewish purposes. For a religious remarriage to take place, the couple must have a Get in addition to the civil divorce. In Orthodox Jewish law the divorce is facilitated by the Beth Din. Orthodox Jewish law requires the couple to agree voluntarily to the Get - this is done by the husband granting the Get and the wife accepting it. This happens in a simple and dignified ceremony, to which a woman can be accompanied either by a family member, friend or a trained volunteer from the London Beth Din. If preferred, it's not necessary for the couple to meet each other at the Beth Din.

 

Critically, if a husband refuses to grant his wife a Get and she then goes on to have children by a different Jewish man, those children are mamzerim. A mamzer is a Jewish child whose status is religiously "illegitimate". A mamzer will suffer severe and tragic restrictions in later life. A mamzer, together with any descendants, cannot normally marry another Jew or Jewess, so every effort should be made to avoid inflicting this status on a child.

 

7 Golden Rules

The Get should ideally be obtained before the civil divorce to avoid problems in the future, when it can be more difficult - and sometimes impossible - to obtain the Get. Although the couple cannot remarry until the civil divorce has been granted, obtaining the Get first avoids any problems which may arise during the civil divorce process.

 

The solicitor should know about the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002. It is his or her professional duty to know about this law and to advise Jewish clients about it. This should be checked before someone decides to instruct the solicitor. Briefly, a person whose spouse is refusing to give/accept a Get can apply to the Court handling the civil divorce, for an Order preventing the Court making a Decree Absolute until such time as a Get has been given/accepted. It is therefore advisable to apply to the Beth Din for a Get well before the making of a Decree Nisi in the civil proceedings.

 

The solicitor (Jewish or not) should know (or be told about) "Getting your Get" at http://www.gettingyourget.co.uk , as it contains lots of information for lawyers - as well as for individuals seeking a divorce. It is a known fact that it is hugely helpful when used.

 

Contact should be made with the Beth Din early on in the process. This can be done either by the husband or wife, jointly by the husband and wife or with the help of the solicitor. If the solicitor does not wish to help, a different solicitor should be found.

 

The Get can be obtained before the civil proceedings have even begun or while they are ongoing; as this can avoid lots of problems and saves the Get from becoming an issue in the civil divorce.

 

If the Get cannot be obtained before or early on in the proceedings for the civil divorce, the solicitor should know how to build the Get into the negotiations regarding the house, finances, contact with the children, etc. If the solicitor does not know about this, a different solicitor should be found.

 

The Get should be mentioned at the outset and then at every stage of the negotiations. If left til later or the end, it could lead to problems. As one individual said when she obtained the Get after reading "Getting your Get" at http://www.gettingyourget.co.uk , "I had to nudge my solicitor to mention the Get in all the early correspondence, even if it was apparently irrelevant to the particular matter in hand - just to keep the Get issue live."

 

If these golden rules are followed, all the problems about the Get which we hear about should be avoided.

 

 

Further information

Further information may be obtained from the widely acclaimed e-book, "Getting your Get" at http://www.gettingyourget.co.uk , where there is also a link to a short 3 part video interview, in which Deanna Levine is interviewed by a TV correspondent.

 

"Getting your Get" explains just about everything that anyone needs to know about the Get process and explains how the civil law can be used to assist when one spouse is not co-operating with obtaining the Get. It includes information and guidance for solicitors and other advisers. There are lists of solicitors who have indicated that they practise family law and take Get issues into account, as well as lists of Orthodox Batei Din and useful organisations to contact. There is also an article specially written for rabbis, entitled "The Rabbi, the Divorcing Congregant and the Get." A Rabbi is of course in a prime position to assist a divorcing congregant with obtaining a Get and the article suggests additional ways in which such an individual might be supported by our spiritual leaders.

 

DEANNA LEVINE MA LLB NP 

is a dually qualified Scottish and English Solicitor and Consultant to Barnett, Alexander Conway Ingram, Solicitors, London. She is Honorary Secretary of The United Kingdom Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, represents B'nai B'rith UK on the Board of Deputies and is a member of the Board's Family Law Group. Co-author of Getting your Get at

http://www.gettingyourget.co.uk , Deanna is also a Get Adviser with the Jewish Marriage Council, a member of Gettlink (an international forum for Agunah advisers). A member of the Society of Authors, she is a well published author and lectures widely to synagogues and other organisations, Jewish groups and lawyers about the Get and how the civil law can help. At Woodside Park Synagogue Deanna chairs the Get Information Group, which provides assistance in confidence to divorcing members.

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