A Jewish woman whose husband refused to give her a divorce for 14 years was finally freed from her marriage last week.
Jewish law states that a man must willingly agree to grant a bill of divorce, or a ‘get’, to his wife, and that she must willingly accept it, in order for the marriage to be dissolved. In this case the husband refused to grant the divorce.
The woman first requested a divorce 14 years ago after she discovered her husband was having a homosexual relationship. The woman immediately filed for divorce in the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court. The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court which translates to the ‘House of Judgement’ is a rabbinical court of Judaism. It is invested with legal powers in a number of religious matters in Jewish communities.
After 12 years, the Rabbinical Court jailed the husband for continuing his refusal to grant the divorce, or get. At the same time, however, the wife filed for damages in Family Court. The husband said he would continue to refuse the divorce until the wife withdrew the Family Court claim.
A panel on the Supreme Rabbinical Court threatened to release the husband from jail if the wife did not withdraw the family proceedings. The wife then appealed this judgment to the High Court of Justice, arguing that the Supreme Rabbinical Court had no legal right to force her to withdraw her family proceedings. The High Court ruled in her favour and issued an order to keep her husband in prison.
The Supreme Rabbinical Court then offered the woman a deal, saying the husband would agree to the divorce if she paid him 18% of a jointly owned apartment. The woman refused, arguing that it was an attempt to force her to buy her divorce from her husband. It should be noted the husband owed considerable sums in child maintenance payments as well.
Despite the High Court decision, the Supreme Rabbinical Court eventually released the husband from jail and the case returned to the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court. The woman continued to insist she had a right to make a family law claim, so the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court cancelled its original ruling requesting the husband to give his wife a get. The woman then appealed again to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.
The case was heard last week in a hearing that lasted for five hours. The husband dropped his claim to 18% of the apartment and granted the get of divorce, in return for which the woman dropped her claim against him in the family court. After a very long battle the woman reportedly left court in tears of happiness.
At Slater and Gordon Lawyers we do appreciate that each divorce case is very different and getting the appropriate religious divorce, in addition to a divorce which is recognised by courts in England & Wales, can be very important.
Hannah Cornish is a Family Law & Divorce Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
For a free initial consultation call freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we will call you.
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