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Getting a Get
A secular divorce is insufficient for an observant Jew. After a secular divorce, in order to subsequently marry a religious Jew, they must first obtain a “Get” or Jewish Bill of Divorcement. Ironically, the Get is a “no fault” document. Jewish divorce must originate with the husband (unless otherwise agreed), as only a man may authorize a scribe to write the divorce, and further, to request two other religious Jews to witness the document. Failing to obtain a Jewish divorce may leave a Jewish woman unable to marry another religious Jew – or to suffer the fate of being considered an “agunah,” or one who is permanently unable to marry, frequently treated as an outsider and shunned by other religious Jews because of her ghastly status. Agunot are considered to be “chained women.”
For most Jews, the marriage begins with a Ketubah – a Jewish marriage contract. It is a legal document, frequently written in Aramaic, and beautifully decorated. The Ketubah functions as a premarital agreement, spelling out the rights and obligations of each party to the marriage. Ironically, divorce was contemplated even in early Ketubahs, as such documents not only set out dowry, but what the wife was to receive in the event of divorce. At a religious Jewish wedding, the wife is often asked to march around her husband seven times – symbolically breaking all of his other ties to the community, as the connection between spouses is second only to their devotion to God. In a Conservative Ketubah, there is now often language that provides that if ever the marriage is dissolved through a secular divorce, either party may invoke the authority of the Beth Din, or Rabbinical Assembly, to grant a Jewish divorce.
The Get process may take place in a rabbi’s office. If the parties reside in different cities, or if there is conflict between the parties, the process may either take place in the party’s respective cities of residence, or via proxy or power of attorney. The process traditionally includes:
A Jewish Get may be obtained locally, or through Kayama.org, among other resources.
Grounds for divorce in Texas include irreconcilable differences and being unable to re-unite as well as adultery, abandonment, commitment to a mental health facility for three years, a felony conviction and imprisonment for at least one year, cruel and inhuman treatment, or living separately for at least three years. The most common divorce grounds for an uncontested divorce are irreconcilable differences and living separately for at least three years because these are the two grounds that do not place blame or fault.
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