Court Crosses Constitutional Line by Ordering Husband to Give Get

Case: Lowy v. Lowy, N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., Dec. 21, 2011.

Facts: The parties were divorced in 2004, pursuant to a divorce judgment which, by agreement, incorporated the decision of a beis din. The beis din‘s decision addressed issues such as child custody and visitation, education of the children, and financial matters. Also included in the beis din‘s decision was the following provision:

If the arrangements for a Get will be made between Plaintiff [wife] and Defendant [husband], Plaintiff shall pay for Get fees incurred.

After the divorce, the wife filed a motion in the New Jersey family court seeking to compel the husband to provide her a get. The court granted the motion and ordered that: 

Defendant [husband] shall cooperate with regard to providing a Get in accordance with the decision of the Bais Din.

Issue: The husband appealed, arguing that:

  1. The beis din never actually ordered him to give a get.
  2. The court’s order was unconstitutional, because it entangled itself in a religious matter and violated the husband’s right to free exercise of religion.

Held: The appeals court ruled in favor of the husband. The language of the beis din‘s decision clearly omitted any order to give a get. As a result, the lower court’s order constituted “impermissible judicial involvement in a matter of religious practice.”

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2 Comments

Filed under American Law, Marriage & Divorce, News

2 responses to “Court Crosses Constitutional Line by Ordering Husband to Give Get

  1. Pingback: News & Links | Hirhurim – Torah Musings

  2. The court was absolutely correct in its interpretation of the Judgment. It’s time for the Orthodox to rise up and protest, en masse, against the rabbis who don’t have the courage of their convictions, and are as complicit . . . as are the recalcitrant husbands. This is not a civil court issue; it is a Jewish law issue . . . . Take the issue of the “get” out of the hands of the husband altogether, and you destroy the ability of men to strangle the life out of their wives. The rabbinate fails, and it will destroy its own power. Increasing number of Orthodox women will no longer consent to an Orthodox wedding, they will not consent to leaving themselves unprotected . . . nor will they subject themselves to permanent fear of being left a living dead whenever their husbands feel like it. Orthodox rabbis have tools–just look at Rabbi Broyde’s Tripartite Agreement, which, in my 39 years of family law practice I have found to be the only prenuptial agreement that works. Get the Orthodox rabbinate behind it, or the rabbinate lose respect and lose control (not to mention become the laughing stock of the world) . . . .

    [COMMENT EDITED]

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