A judge in the Krayot Family Court ordered a woman on Sunday to pay her husband
hefty compensation after she refused to accept a get, a Jewish
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Judge Marina Levy ordered the woman to pay her husband NIS
200,000 in damages compensation: NIS 25,000 for each year she has refused to
accept the get.
While disputes over refusals to grant a get are
relatively common, most cases involve husbands who deny their wives a
It is far rarer – though not unheard of – for a woman to refuse
to accept a get from her husband.
In this case, the wife – who cannot be
named for legal reasons – had refused to accept a divorce since 2003, even
though the Rabbinic Court had ruled to allow her husband to give her a
The couple, who were wed in 1978, have no children and although they
have lived apart since 2003, they are still considered a married couple under
Israeli and Jewish law.
The husband first filed for divorce in the
Rabbinic Court in 1986, citing as reasons his wife’s inability to conceive and
marital conflicts. However, at that time, the Rabbinic Court refused to allow
him to divorce.
In 2003, the couple separated and the husband again
turned to the Rabbinic Court for a get, on the grounds that his wife could not
On that occasion, the Rabbinic Court ruled that according
to Jewish law, the woman should be given a get [Jewish divorce] after medical
examinations of the couple revealed that the husband is capable of fathering
children, but the woman could not bear children except via a life-endangering
The Rabbinic Court later rejected the woman’s appeal
against the get, after she claimed her husband wanted to leave her for another
However, the woman had still refused to accept the get.
husband told the court on Sunday that the only reason the woman wanted to remain
legally married to him was because as his spouse she is entitled to receive a
third of his disability pension. He claimed her refusal to accept the divorce
had caused him severe psychological damage, and denied him the opportunity to
remarry and have children.
The woman denied this and claimed she had
refused the divorce because she is still in love with her husband and wanted to
reconcile. She told the court that under Jewish law, her husband was free to ask
the Rabbinic Court for permission to marry another woman without first divorcing
her. However, Levy ruled that the woman’s refusal to accept the get was not
Citing an academic paper titled ‘I want to get a Divorce
now!’ by family law expert Prof. Shahar Lifshitz, Levy said that the
right to disengage from a relationship should be an integral part of society’s
“When a person wishes to end a marriage, and that desire is clear
and consistent over time, the other party cannot refuse even if they would like
to continue the relationship,” wrote the judge. “The refusal to give or receive
a get usually intensifies the desire of the other side to leave the
relationship, it deepens the rift between the two and instills feelings of
anger, resentment and indignation.”
In ruling that the woman should pay
her husband compensation, Levy said that in refusing to accept the get she had
infringed on her husband’s autonomy. Levy pointed out that the same reasoning
would apply in the case of a man refusing his wife a get.
Levy also ruled
that the compensation ruling would not be canceled even if the woman now agreed
to a divorce, and added that the husband could also sue for future damages if
the woman continued to refuse to divorce.
Lifshiftz told The Jerusalem
that the ruling was an important one.
“The ruling maintains a firm
civil line which says that there is a price to be paid for allowing a person to
shackle their partner to them and for exploiting the religious court, which
requires that both sides agree to divorce,” said Lifshitz.
also reflects the concept of gender equality in which neither the man and woman
are in charge of their partner.”
Lifshitz pointed out, however, that in
terms of divorce there is not absolute equality between men and women,
particularly in cases where the wife is financially dependent on the
Batia Kahana Dror, leader of the nonprofit organization Mevoi
Satum, which advocates for women denied a get, said she backed the court’s
“It’s good that the man will receive compensation. A get should
not be used as a bargaining chip for a woman or a man,” she
However, Kahana Dror said that she did not agree with the level of
compensation the woman was ordered to pay.
“When a man denies a woman a
get, the damage to her is far greater than in cases like this where a woman
refuses to divorce her husband,” she said. “Jewish law does not treat men and
women equally in this respect, so the amount of compensation women must pay
should be less.”