A man who had refused his wife a divorce in Israel has been extradited from the United States, Arutz Sheva reports. The unidentified man fled Israel to avoid getting divorced, after he was accused of pedophilia for alleged misconduct with his wife’s underage sister and the couple’s young son. Seeking to avoid this, the Rabbinical Court in Israel contacted the US Justice Department. After lengthy negotiations, in an unprecedented move, the US extradited the man to Israel. After threatened with prison time, the man acceded to the divorce.
Divorce is a touchy subject, especially in Orthodox Judaism, in which the rules state that only men can agree to the divorce. Women cannot unilaterally decide on a divorce. In order for a marriage to end, the man must sign a document dissolving it. This document is called a “get,” and without it, life becomes difficult for the wives of men who leave the marriage. If a man does not grant his wife a get, and then becomes somehow unavailable, his wife becomes what Orthodox Jews call “agunah,” or a chained woman. She loses the privileges of both having a husband and seeking a new one. This was especially cruel during wartime, when soldiers in battle went missing, but were not confirmed dead. However, for cases in which men simply refuse to grant a get, the community often gets involved. In Israel, in some cases, refusing a get can result in jail time. Here in the US, a rabbi in New York did not shy from resorting to kidnapping and physical intimidation to obtain the necessary get for wives in his community.
Marriage rules differ from religion to religion. In Islam, depending on whether the couple is Shiite or Sunni, a woman can petition the imam for divorce, but only for cause. A man, however, merely needs to say the phrase “I divorce you” three times to the woman to affect a divorce. In Catholicism, there is no divorce. If a couple marries in the Catholic Church and seeks to end their marriage, they must receive an annulment, or a statement from the Church that the marriage was never valid in the first place.
Regardless of your faith or the rules of your religion, in the US, divorce is a civil matter, one that is dealt with by the family courts. There are rights and responsibilities that come with marriage, and significant legal hurdles that come with ending it. An experienced family law and divorce attorney can help you achieve the equitable solution you deserve. If you are thinking about divorce, contact Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. today.