Divorce and Separation for Jewish Couples

Divorce and Separation for Jewish Couples

McAlister Family Law has over 35 years of experience in advising Jewish couples who are facing divorce or separation. Liz Cowell, herself a member of the community.

Has experience in working with the Beth Din for many couples some of whom have been members of the Chardi community.  It is important that you find a solicitor that understands the need for this liaison.

Jewish divorce and obtaining a GET

For a Jewish couple to be divorced according to Hallacha (Jewish Law) they will need a Get, which is obtained by the husband from the Beth Din, an organisation that administers Jewish Civil Law for the Jewish community.  It recognises the English and Welsh Court system, and operates with three Dayanim (judges) when it deals with hearings.

The Manchester Beth Din have an excellent website (www.mbd.org.uk) which has been set up to demystify and explain the forms and process needed to obtain a Get, information on which is downloadable from the website.

If you are Jewish and you want to remarry within the Jewish faith, you will need a Get as well as a civil divorce. You cannot rely on only obtaining one form of divorce.

Jewish couples

In cases where the husband refuses to apply to the Beth Din for a Get, the wife will require the status of Aguna  – ‘a chained woman’.  She will be unable to remarry under Jewish Law and if she enters into a civil marriage she will be classified as an adulteress.  Any children she has will be considered to be illegitimate by the Jewish community. 

Because of the importance of the Get and the uneven playing field on which some wives can find themselves, the Beth Din has worked with the Family Court to make matters fairer. 

The result is an Act of Parliament called The Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002.  This provides that a civil Decree Absolute of divorce will not be granted to a husband who is withholding a Get.  This helps to prevent husbands refusing to grant a Get to wives, particularly where there is an attempt being made to acquire a financial advantage, for example where an unreasonable offer of settlement is made in exchange for a Get.

The Beth Din

The Beth Din is highly attuned to the abuse of the process by husbands, and will work with the Family Court to prevent this happening wherever possible.

It is also the case that as an arbitration forum the Beth Din can assist parties in reaching a mediated settlement, both with respect to the arrangements for their children and their finances.

Indeed, on occasion the Family Court has agreed to stay its own proceedings to allow the Beth Din to help the parties reach settlement.

In this jurisdiction the Family Court will always retain overall jurisdiction over the Beth Din as to whether or not a settlement achieved is fair and can be made into a Consent Order, but it is undoubtedly the case that negotiating and reaching an agreement is a far better solution than litigating through the courts.


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