What Is a “Get”, and Is It Required for a Jewish Divorce?

Going through a divorce is challenging and a range of factors can make this process more complex. Some religious organizations have customs for married couples to complete their divorce under Jewish law. One example of such a practice is a “Get” or “Gett,” a document given from a husband to his wife in a Jewish divorce ceremony.

For those unfamiliar with Jewish tradition, getting the paperwork required for this ceremony through proper religious channels can be confusing. A Jewish divorce attorney at Moskowitz Law Group could explain the requirements for this process, including what it may mean to not get a Get in the Jewish community.

The Get Ceremony Explained

In Jewish tradition, a Get involves a formal document as well as a ceremony. While a Get can technically be written in any language, it is a custom to write the document in Aramaic and include certain phrases in accordance with Jewish law. The document is also typically 12 lines long, and witnesses sign beneath the 12th line as part of a ceremony.

While the Get ceremony only requires the husband, wife, and two witnesses, it is typically overseen by the Beit Din, or Jewish Ecclesiastical Court, under Rabbinic law. A scribe writes the Get document, and the husband hands this paper to his wife in front of two kosher witnesses. Then, the marriage is dissolved, and the Beit Din gives both parties a certificate confirming their new marital status.

While this process seems relatively straightforward, there are several complications it can bring to your divorce. Scheduling the ceremony, going through the proper channels, and ensuring you follow every part of Jewish tradition can be complicated. This begs the question — is this whole process even required?

Is a Get Required?

While a Get is not required for a couple to be divorced under civil law, traditional Jewish law does require this ceremony. In Jewish tradition, a married couple can only be released from matrimony if they get a formal bill of divorce proving the dissolution of the marriage. Whether a Get is required for a couple ultimately depends on how religiously observant the couple and their family and community are. Most secular couples and communities do not consider obtaining a Get to be necessary.

An observant Jewish couple only getting a civil divorce could face problems within their community. While civil law allows divorced spouses to remarry no matter what, Jewish law does not allow a divorced wife without a Get to remarry or have any children from other relationships. If she has children, they are considered Mamzer or Mamzeret and cannot marry anyone except for another Mamzer or Mamzeret. These restrictions do not apply to divorced husbands because, in biblical times, it was common for men to have multiple wives.

These struggles are not the only ones that can impact Jewish divorce proceedings. Some interpretations of Jewish tradition suggest that a man can divorce his wife without her consent, while the same does not hold true for women trying to divorce their husbands. Many of these rules are still in place in extremely Orthodox Jewish communities. However, the shift into the modern era has loosened some of these rules in certain circles.

Speak With a Jewish Divorce Attorney About Get Requirements

A Get ceremony is not required under civil law. However, Jewish couples and Orthodox communities often follow Jewish law and traditions. The decision to pursue a Get should be between the couple themselves and the values of their community. Navigating obtaining a Get in a high-conflict divorce can be challenging because husbands can withhold a Get from their wife as leverage in the divorce process. Unfortunately, due to constitutional issues, a civil court cannot order a husband to grant his wife a Get. Thus, a family law attorney versed in Jewish law is essential to remediating such a situation.

Our family law attorneys are trained in handling both the secular and religious processes involved in a divorce. We understand couples come from distinct backgrounds and believe you deserve to work with a legal team who understands your culture and religion. Call Moskowitz Law Group today to learn more about Get requirements for divorce proceedings.


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