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What are divorce laws for Orthodox Jewish women?

When most women decide to divorce their husbands, it is a fairly straightforward process. However, the process for Jewish women seeking divorce from their partners is more difficult, as the process is twofold.

Under terms of halacha, which is the law that Orthodox Jews must follow, a civil divorce filed in the state courts is not acceptable. First, a Jewish wife must obtain a "get," or scroll of severance, from her husband.

The get is similar to a civil no-fault divorce, as no reasons are cited for the split. Jewish law permits divorce under numerous circumstances, including abuse by either partner. But because Jewish law states that the man is the only one who can initiate a divorce, the wife must first obtain the get through a rabbinical court.

Once the scroll of severance is delivered to and accepted by the wife, she has her get, and according to ancient laws, is considered divorced. This get frees her to remarry, as without the get, she may not.

Of course, in New York state, a get is not sufficient to the civil courts, and therefore, another set of civil proceeding still must be filed. The two sets of proceedings must both be filed for Orthodox and Conservative Jewish wives to be divorced according to the state and Jewish laws.

There are some similarities between the Jewish process of obtaining a get and the Catholic process of seeking a marriage annulment, as both carry religious repercussions that civil divorces do not. If you find yourself in the position where you need a get, it is a good idea to seek assistance from a New York family law attorney simultaneously to hasten the process.

Source: womenslaw.org, "Jewish Get Law (Divorce Law)," accessed Nov. 04, 2015

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