Jewish Divorce Law
Jewish divorce law is ruled by the ancient Talmud, but most of the divorce laws are realistic and fair and can be applied to today's situations. Judaism has recognized "no-fault" divorce for thousands of years. One of the few Jewish divorce laws that seems strange today is the fact that only the husband can initiate a divorce, and the wife cannot refuse the divorce. Rabbinical authorities have since taken steps to modify these rules by allowing the wife to prohibit the divorce without her consent or to compel the husband to divorce the wife under certain just circumstances.
A "get" is the word for "divorce document" in Hebrew, and means "scroll of cutting off." A Jewish marriage has been issued by a legal contract, so it can only be terminated by a "get" to make that contract null. The document is drawn up with rabbinical supervision and must be signed by both parties and witnesses. A "get" must wait for a civil divorce to be obtained. However, without the "get," the couple remains married in the eyes of Jewish law. Under Jewish divorce law, most rabbis will not officiate at a new wedding ceremony if either party has not obtained a "get."
The rabbinical court ("beit din") supervises the divorcing couple. This includes adjudicating cases, resolving disputes, and helping mediate custodial and financial issues. A qualified marital counselor is often suggested if there is a chance that the marriage can be saved. Child custody is decided by what is in the best interests of the children. Under Jewish divorce law, a "beit din" must not be prejudiced in favor of either party, even though many think that it would show favoritism to the husband. The Beth Din of America can coordinate with rabbis throughout the world to help finalize divorce cases and order a "get" to be delivered by proxy if necessary. The Beth Din also strongly encourages pre-nuptial agreements so that details are resolved beforehand and the couple agrees to submit to the decisions of the Beth Din. Regardless of any pre-nuptial arrangements, both parties must enter into a binding arbitration agreement, which is routinely upheld by the civil courts.