Divorce can be a civil affair

Some marriages are harder to get out of than others are. Consider the case where two Brooklyn men, sons of a rabbi, who last year pleaded guilty to extortion in a case with charges that included conspiracy to commit kidnapping, according to a United States attorney.

Federal prosecutors last month released an indictment that read like a script for an episode of "The Sopranos." They allege that the men were part of a rabbinical ring that grabbed Orthodox Jewish husbands off the streets, tossed them into vans, and under threats and torture, managed to "persuade" them to give their wives a "get." A "get" is a signed document allowing her to pursue a divorce. Without the get, under Jewish law, the divorce cannot occur.

These circumstances took place recently across the river in New Jersey. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents learned of the special brand of persuasion and arranged a sting operation with a female agent posing as a wife. Another agent posed as her brother, who offered some incentive pay to obtain the get. Allegedly, an electric cattle prod would be used as motivation for the man to give his agreement. The sting was successful and resulted in eight arrests.

The gets didn't come cheap -- the rabbis who approved the kidnapping split a payment of $10,000, while their enforcers shared a bounty of $50,000 to $60,000 for their night's work.

Fortunately for New York residents contemplating divorce, the process may be unpleasant, but is far less arduous than that employed by the rogue band of rabbis and hired thugs. If your marriage has become untenable, the courts offer you a civil way to sever your marital ties and equitably divide your assets without relying on violence.

Source: The Washington Post, "Rabbis charged with kidnapping Orthodox Jewish men and forcing them to grant divorces" Lindsey Bever, May. 23, 2014

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