Friday, February 06, 2015
Jewish Law and Divorce
In theory, a husband promises to financially compensate a wife and free her in the Ketuba, the document incorrectly known as a marriage contract. The wife doesn't sign it; only the husband does. A contract is signed by both sides. Since only the husband signs the Ketuba, it is more a legally binding witnessed pledge to the wife by the husband. The man promises large amounts of money if something goes wrong.
That's great in theory, but we all know that reality is different. It's rare to hear of a man who admits the marriage must end, even if he initiates proceedings, and is willing to financially compensate the wife and end the marriage by giving her a Jewish Gett (divorce document.)
Yes, I know of cases in which the husband was the one to initiate the divorce and then refused to complete it, give his wife a Gett and finish all legal and financial matters between them.
I have an idea that would help in those cases. Any man who comes to a Beit Din, Jewish Court, to initiate divorce must deposit the Gett with the court. That means that as soon as the wife is ready, her Gett is fully signed and waiting for her. That will also stop men from frivolous divorce cases just to pressure and harass their wives. And if you want to make it extra fair, then any woman who initiates must leave a legally signed document saying she will agree to accept a Gett the minute it is offered.
No doubt, the Batei Din will have less work to do once they make it clear that only people truly serious about divorce can initiate it.
I have no idea what the background of this story of the man who has refused his wife a Gett almost twenty years is, and I really don't want to start searching, but I admire the man who recognized him and sent him packing.