There was a continued rise in the rate of divorce in 2013, with the Rabbinical Courts Administration announcing on Tuesday night a 5.8 percent increase in the numbers of couples ending their marriages over the 2012 figures.
In total, 11,219 couples got divorced in 2013, compared with 10,602 in 2012.
Jerusalem was the city with the most divorces, with 733 couples formally separating, while 678 couples divorced in Tel Aviv, 502 in Haifa and 492 in Rishon Lezion.
The rabbinical courts, which have exclusive jurisdiction over Jewish marriage and divorce, said it took an average of 96 days to complete a divorce case in 2013, 10 days quicker than a year earlier.
Additionally, the administrations’ special unit for obtaining bills of divorce (gets) for women whose husbands refuse to grant them obtained 159 gets in 2013 from men who had fled the country, compared to 163 in 2012.
There was a significant increase in the number of times the rabbinical courts imposed sanctions on men refusing to give their wives a bill of divorce.
The rabbinical courts are empowered to impose various sanctions on such recalcitrant husbands, including preventing them from traveling abroad, confiscating their driver’s licenses and even imprisonment.
In 2013, the rabbinical courts imposed such sanctions 168 times on 46 recalcitrant husbands, whereas in 2012 the courts used such tools just 60 times.
This year, the sanctions included preventing such men from leaving the country, revoking driving licenses, and preventing appointments to state-paid jobs.
On 19 occasions the courts imposed a prison sentence on the recalcitrant husband and five times it used the service of private investigators to track down men refusing to give their wives a bill of divorce.
Although the increase in the use of sanctions was welcome, rabbinical courts still impose them on too few occasions and do not use them quickly enough, said Batya Kehana- Dror, director of the Mavoi Satum women’s rights group. This is especially true regarding imprisonment, she added.
Kehana-Dror spoke of one case her organization dealt with, in which it took six years from the time the court ruled that the husband must give his wife the get until it imposed a jail sentence on him.
According to Dror, her organization, one of several dealing with women unable to obtain a divorce, gets 200 requests for help from women every year. One in every five women getting divorced experiences some form of extortion over the terms of the divorce in return for the get, she said.
There are also many men whose wives refuse to accept the divorce, similarly in order to obtain better terms in the settlement. Precise details from the rabbinical courts are not available either for men or women.