Jewish Divorce Lawyer Chicago
How do Jewish divorces differ from secular divorces?
Like other faiths, a Jewish marriage generally has both secular and religious components. Unlike other religious faiths, an essential part of a Jewish divorce is obtaining a “Get.” A Get, essentially a contract and ceremony, recognizes the Jewish divorce as valid, whether members of the strict Orthodox Jewish Faith, where a Get is mandatory, or practitioners of more relaxed movements of Jewish religious practices, where a Get, while not mandatory, ensures that the civil divorce is accepted and honored no matter what movement of the Jewish Faith the parties practice.
Why do I need a Get?
A Get is basically a Jewish divorce. Dating back to early Biblical times, it is necessary for the Jewish divorcee to have the dissolution of their marriage considered valid by all movements of Jewish faith and its community. Without a Get, a wife in some Jewish eyes is still married to her husband despite the legal civil divorce. This has been described as “shackled” to her husband, and her remarriage is not recognized by some members of the Jewish Faith and community. She is considered unfaithful to her divorced husband, and her children with her new spouse will be viewed as illegitimate by some of the Jewish Faith. Obviously this can result in both emotional as well as legal damage.
Doesn’t it only apply to Orthodox and maybe Conservative observants?
While a necessity under the Orthodox Jewish practice, as pointed out above, even if Reformed (where the Get is not a necessity), it is considered essential by many of the Jewish Faith. As such, why not avoid future issues that may affect you, your new or former spouse, or your children? It’s a fairly straightforward procedure which, like the marriage contract (Ketubah) and marriage, is largely contractual.
Is the husband still in control of the wife receiving a Get?
Essentially yes, although that power has certainly been diluted. While the man obtains the document, written by a scribe under the direction of a Rabbi with proper witnesses, then physically delivered to the wife (certified mail will do), it is now voluntary on both parties to agree and participate in securing a valid Get. And while a woman once had no say, she now has the ability to refuse the requesting husband a Get. However, he doesn’t have the same consequences regarding remarriage as the wife does. It would be wise to obtain the husband’s agreement in your civil divorce Judgment to eliminate any risk.
What about timing?
A Get is usually the final step in a Jewish Divorce. Because those of the Jewish Faith recognize and follow the “law of the land”, they obtain a civil divorce with an attendant division of property and custody considerations which is written in the form of civil agreements called Marital Settlement Agreements and Allocation Judgments. Thus, if one party persists in refusing a Get, these other agreements still are valid and enforceable.
What can I do to ensure that my spouse gives me a Get?
We recommend partnering with the legal professionals at Katz & Stefani, who have decades of experience in successfully securing Jewish divorce settlements through the understanding of Faith, culture and contract/family law. This is not simply a “form document” and the best and easiest avenue to bringing closure to the divorce proceeding is to consult with our attorneys upon the decision to dissolve the marriage. If you have a Get set forth as a condition in a prenuptial agreement, our attorneys can then add sanctions or penalties recognized by civil law if your partner attempts to stonewall or rescind the promise if you divorce.
For those already married, a postnuptial agreement that includes language for a Get is recommended and has the same impact as the prenuptial agreement with some important differences ~ but the same result.
Absent a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the parties may include obtaining a Get as a condition in the civil divorce judgment. The final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage may set forth certain timing and procedures to ensure the Get is valid and enforceable by the Civil Courts in the event one party refuses to participate after the Judgment is entered.
At Katz & Stefani, LLC, our family law attorney in Chicago, IL focuses on the following practice areas:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Cohabitation Agreements
- Collaborative Divorce
- Grandparents Rights
- Prenuptial Agreement
- Spousal Support
Does your Chicago Jewish divorce law firm have the expertise to handle this for me?
Yes. The divorce lawyers at Katz & Stefani will effectively outline and explain all facets of obtaining a Get or ensuring that one will be obtained if your marriage should end. Our experience in representing spouses in Jewish divorce proceedings is unmatched in Chicago. Our lawyers will consult with other experts or your Rabbi, and display our full approach in harmonizing the securing of a Get with the couple’s need for a Marital Settlement Agreement (which is part of a Divorce Judgment) and other necessary components of a civil/secular divorce to ensure the process is handled with respect and professionalism.