Divorce gavel court get 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
A new bill may obligate religious courts to hold hearings on applying punitive
sanctions to a husband who is ignoring an order to give his wife a get, or bill
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved
the measure on Tuesday.
The bill, proposed by MKs Otniel Schneller
(Kadima) and Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), will require the courts to
initiate a hearing within 30 days if the court had previously ordered the
husband to give a get to his wife through a “obligatory” or “coercive” decree,
and within 90 days for an order which “recommended” or “commanded” that the get
“The bill stems from the distressing phenomenon of men refusing
to give their wives a get, and from the need to streamline the work of the
rabbinical courts,” said Orlev after the hearing.
Jewish law stipulates
that a divorce can only be enacted if a husband gives a get to his wife. If he
refuses, she cannot remarry. A get is only valid if it is given of the husband’s
Punitive measures, such as confiscation of a man’s driver’s
license and imprisonment, can be imposed on a recalcitrant husband to persuade
him to give the get, but such sanctions are looked at with concern by the
rabbinical courts due to the concern that the husband will not be giving the get
of his own free will, thus invalidating it.
The purpose of the bill is to
expedite the process by which sanctions can be imposed and to force the
rabbinical courts to deal with a man who, having been ordered to give his wife a
get, continues to refuse to do so.
According to Mavoi Satum, a women’s
rights advocacy group, many years can pass even after a the courts have ordered
that a get be given, before the husband agrees to do so.
Chairman of the
committee MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) also welcomed the approval of the
“The law is designed to solve the problem of men refusing to give a
get,” he said “and to transfer the obligation of the imposition of sanctions on
to the rabbinical courts, in hearings which will not require the presence of the
man in question.”
Batya Kehana, director of Mavoi Satum who helped draft
the bill, expressed hope that the bill will help accelerate the process for
women to be granted a get.
“We hope that the bill will help shorten the
period of abuse and blackmail that women who are denied a get experience, and
put an end to the foot-dragging that characterizes the rabbinical courts,” she
told The Jerusalem Post
“Unlike the situation currently prevailing in
the courts, in which nothing is done when a ruling granting a get is ignored by
the husband, the courts will now be required to hold a follow-up hearing
regarding the imposition of sanctions. This measure imposes an additional
responsibility on the courts to ensure the enforcement of their
The bill was approved by the committee for its second and third
readings in the Knesset, with the support of committee members Orlev, Schneller,
Rotem and Herzog.
MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas) voted against the bill and
after the vote he requested from the committee chairman that a session be held
to debate certain revisions.
Michaeli was not available for comment
regarding the reason for his opposition.