For those who are not of the Jewish faith, going through what is often referred to as a “Jewish divorce” may seem unnecessary. After all, in the state of Florida, having a Jewish divorce is not recognized as a legal way to divorce one’s spouse and civil divorce procedures still need to be followed.
But to those who are of the Jewish faith, having a Jewish divorce and having the “get” document in hand can be a critical document which officially severs all ties between a husband a a wife.
What Is a “Get”?
A “Get” is a document (or a “bill of divorce”) which a husband will present to his wife to release both from the bonds of matrimony. This document is often presented in front of a beth din (a rabbinical court where three rabbis are present), though all that is necessary for the Get to be effective is to have the husband, the wife, and two kosher witnesses present.
The document will be written by a scribe and passed to the husband who will then hand it to his wife in the presence of their two chosen witnesses. Once complete, the marriage has been dissolved by religious law and the beth din will provide both parties with a certificate ratifying their brand new marital status.
Does the Husband Require His Wife’s Consent?
Originally a wife’s consent was not necessary for a husband to proceed with a divorce. Nearly 1000 years ago this changed after Rabbi Gershom, a German scholar, prohibited a husband from divorcing his wife without her authorization.
What If a Spouse Cannot Be Present?
In this situation, the husband has the option of appointing an emissary to act on his behalf and to deliver the bill of divorce to his wife.
The wife also has the option of appointing an agent to accept the “get”. The appointing of an agent, however, is incredibly complex and must be done with the beth din present.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Get?
An attorney is not required for spouses to obtain a Get. But having a legal counselor by your side during this stressful time can give you additional reassurance and support.
David Anton is a member of the Tampa Bay Jewish community and respects the wishes of those who want to abide by Jewish law.