Obtaining a Jewish divorce

10th December 2020

Obtaining a Jewish divorce is completely separate from obtaining a civil divorce, but how do the two interlink?

Couples of Jewish faith often marry under both civil and Jewish law, in separate ceremonies. If your marriage later breaks down irretrievably and you wish to divorce, it is important to remember that a civil divorce will not also end your Jewish marriage. These need to be dealt with separately.

In order to obtain a Jewish divorce, the husband of the marriage will need to present the wife with a Get (a writ of Jewish divorce that has been hand-written by a Jewish scribe under the supervision of a Bet Din), which the wife needs to accept. In order to initiate the process, either or both parties should contact their local Bet Din. The relevant Bet Din will then be able to provide guidance, information on the costs of a Jewish divorce and can arrange and conduct the divorce ceremony.

Jewish divorce requires the consent of both the husband and wife. Unfortunately, there have been many reported instances of one party refusing to engage with the Jewish divorce process, which means that the other party is unable to remarry despite having obtained a civil divorce. This can have implications for both parties and their future families. For example if the wife has any children with a new partner, the children will be awarded the status of “mamzer” which prohibits them from being able to marry in an Orthodox synagogue.

It is important therefore that a Jewish divorce is obtained before civil proceedings are concluded, which occurs when you receive “Decree Absolute”. Under the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002, you can apply to the court handling your civil divorce for an order that no Decree Absolute will be granted until such time as a Get has been given and accepted.

When negotiating financial settlements upon divorce, either voluntarily or through civil court proceedings, your family law solicitor can also include the requirement that a Jewish divorce must be obtained before any formal agreement can be reached.

If you need advice in respect of divorce proceedings, where you will also require a Jewish divorce, please contact our Family Team.

This blog has been co-written by Abbie Coleman and Simon Burge.

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