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Judaism and Divorce

Divorce is not an uncommon topic in our world today and is becoming seemingly less and less so as time passes. We all know a friend, co-worker or family member who has been divorced. You may have even been divorced previously. There is nothing illegal or immoral about divorce but different religions have different requirements for ensuring that a divorce occurs within the confines and based on the principles of that faith.

Judaism is no exception to this rule. Judaism teaches that divorce may be necessary for certain circumstances. The sacred text of Judaism, the Torah, teaches the proper methods for acquiring a divorce. What then is the proper method of divorce for a Jewish person? Today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will focus on this subject.

How can you get a divorce according to Jewish religious custom?

I will note at this stage that I am not Jewish. However, I did my best to research this topic so hopefully, I am not stepping on anyone’s toes or offending anyone’s religious sensibilities. If I have done so I apologize in advance. This is a topic that is interesting to me and I hope interests many of you out there reading this blog post.

For a Jewish man and woman to get a divorce from one another, the man has to give a document known as a “Get” to the woman. The Torah describes this document in some detail and is the ultimate source for much of the information that I am sharing with you today. The Get voids a marriage between two Jewish people and makes known to the world that these folks are now free to remarry one another according to Jewish customs and practices.

A Get is essential to a Jewish divorce. Without one, you and your spouse can be separated from one another physically but emotionally and spiritually there has not bee a division or formal separation. In the Jewish faith, the couple would still be considered as married even if they had separated from one another physically.

How must the Get be written in order to move forward with a divorce under Jewish law?

Unlike your Original Petition for Divorce or the Final Decree in your civil divorce case, a Get cannot contain boilerplate language that is included in all divorces across Texas. Rather, a Get is a very specific document that must be created and tailored to you and your spouse as an individual couple. A Rabbi with a great deal of experience in the Torah, Jewish tradition and drafting these sort of documents must be enlisted to do the heavy lifting in creating a Get for you and your spouse.

Once the Get is completed, there must be witnesses present as well as a specific practice in place for naming you and your spouse within the document. It is a precise process that requires a great deal of specificity and exactitude. The rabbi will have a scribe actually write the document. Each Get contains twelve lines of text written in Aramaic. Aramaic was the language that was utilized by Jewish people during the time the Get was popularized and made into a part of the Jewish legal tradition.

Your name and your spouse’s names are included in the Get as well as the location that you and your spouse are living. The Get does not specifically state that the man is free to remarry but does give that permission to the woman.

The reason for this is that the man will hand the Get to the woman in front of two people that are authorized to act in this capacity. A temple will be the site for this exchange, typically in the office of the rabbi. In the event that you are involved in a marriage where emotional or physical harm may be the result of you and your spouse being in the same room then substitutes may be allowed to complete this transaction instead of you and your spouse.

Where does the Get go after the Get transaction?

Once the Get ceremony has been completed it will remain in the office of the rabbi.

A certificate will be issued to you and your spouse so that you all have proof that the procedure was followed correctly and the divorce was successful under the terms of Jewish law. You and your ex-spouse may now remarry according to Jewish law.

Why is a Get so important to Jewish people?

The Get allows you and your ex-spouse to move about in your community freely without the hindrance of your marital vows. It clears the air for you to talk to potential partners in the future without fear that issues related to your marriage could resurface and cause problems down the line for either of you. In order to remarry a rabbi will usually ask for proof of the Get prior to officiating any ceremony involving those persons who were previously married.

The Get also allows your children to be able to go about their lives freely. For example, a child born to a mother who was married to two men at once due to her not receiving a Get after her first marriage is subject to being ostracized from daily, Jewish life. This means that he or she may not be able to date or marry the person of their choice. All because you failed to get the Get done and over with.

What does being married mean to a Jewish person?

Being married means that you and your spouse are more than just a man and woman married in a ceremony. It is more than the sharing of vows, bank accounts, children and a bedroom. Marriage is more than all of that. It means that you and your spouse are now one person, one body and indistinguishable from one another.

In the event that your marriage is causing you harm, you may consider a divorce under Jewish tradition. Until that point, it is your responsibility to care for your marriage and ensure its success even under difficult circumstances. After all, this is not another person we are talking about.

Rather, we are talking about a part of your body. Jewish people believe that marriage is about giving and not taking. When you and your spouse give to one another it is a symbiotic relationship that benefits both of you.

How do children figure into a Jewish divorce?

Divorce can leave a lasting impact on your children. We like to think of children as being resilient but we do this often times in order to make ourselves feel better about the decisions that we make as parents. Making sure that your children understand that the divorce is not their doing and not influenced by them whatsoever is important. Your marital disputes are just that- marital related- and should not involve the children or force them to be in the middle of the problems.

Finally, you and your ex-spouse should do everything you can to ensure that each of you has a meaningful and strong relationship with your child even after divorce. Alienating your children from their other parent is one of the worst things you can do to a child and is frowned upon not only by the State of Texas but by Jewish religious leaders as well.

The bottom line is that you can help your family and yourself by going about your divorce in the manner prescribed by your faith. The rules may seem strict to many, but its practices ensure an efficient and complete break in the marriage to allow for new beginnings for both spouses and their children.

Questions about divorce in the context of your religious denomination? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

The attorneys and counselors with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC believe that your ability to practice your religious faith is one of the things that makes our country great. If you have questions about how your faith can potentially impact your divorce in Texas please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to answer your questions in a free of charge consultation.

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