Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Help Me Howard: Can't get a 'Get'
The institution of marriage. For some, it works. For some, it doesn't. For some of those, there's divorce, or is there? One South Florida woman says her ex refuses to grant her a divorce within their religion, so she's put her faith in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Shari Lipson: "May our home be built on the Torah and loving kindness. May my love for you last forever."
In an ideal world, it would last a lifetime.
Shari Lipson: "It was the best wedding I had ever been to, everything was done perfectly."
But in the real world, reality sets in.
Shari Lipson: "We fell out of love. We just had nothing in common."
Shari Lipson was married in a conservative Jewish ceremony in 1995, then got divorced in a Broward court in 2000. Well, sort of got divorced.
Shari Lipson: "The state of Florida yes, but he never wanted to sign the Get."
What's a Get? Let's get Mr. Finkelstein to explain.
Howard Finkelstein: "A Get is a Jewish divorce document given by a man to his ex-wife which frees her from her marriage and allows her to remarry. In Shari's case, her ex won't give it to her."
Shari Lipson: "We are divorced, but until he signs that paper, if anybody knows about the Get, we are still married."
If Shari seems determined, it's because she wants to get married again next year and would like another conservative ceremony, but without the Get it's a no-go.
Shari Lipson: "My future fiancé is religious, his family is. I want to get married in front of a rabbi in a temple. I don't want to get married at a clubhouse. I want to try and make it as beautiful as possible again."
Shari has contacted her ex to ask him to sign the Get, but, needless to say, the love has gone out of their relationship.
Shari Lipson: "He's angry at stuff that happened, maybe in court, that I said about him, but all of it was true. I cry mostly at night, and I try not to cry all day or at work."
But legally, can Shari force her ex-husband to release her from their Jewish marriage? Do they teach you about these things in law school, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, they do and what they teach us is that courts will almost never interfere with the internal workings of a religion, so, in this case, her ex-husband can refuse to release her to remarry."
When we contacted Shari's ex to ask why he wouldn't grant her the Get, he told us, for personal reasons, that he has no interest in discussing it with the news. It's strictly a religious matter, case closed.
Shari Lipson: "I want a closure, doesn't everybody want a closure in something? Well, this is my closure."
And to get closure, there is one more option available for Shari. Rabbi Paul Plotkin explains what needs to happen.
Rabbi Paul Plotkin: "The National Jewish Court of the Rabbinical Assembly can evoke this ancient Jewish principal. They would basically annul or take away the original marriage, as if it never happened, and if that were the case, she would be returned to the status of never been married, and therefore would not need the Get."
Shari can hope for that, and has some advice for any other Jewish women planning to get divorced.
Shari Lipson: "I think it should be part of the law when a Jewish couple gets divorced, right then and there, in the courtroom, you need to get the Jewish divorce plus the civil."
If Shari can't get the assembly to annul her first marriage, she will still get married to her fiancee, just not in the religious ceremony she wanted, and the Jewish religion is not alone in rules like this. Catholics have rules about annulments, a lot of religions do, but while the religions may not recognize another marriage, the courts do.
Frustrated, fuming and fighting to keep the faith? Want a clean split? Contact us. We'll get going on your problem and attempt to annul your worries.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your contact number when emailing)