Father of divorce refuser fined 5,000 shekels a day

The Tel Aviv rabbinical court ruled nearly five years ago that the man was obligated to grant a divorce, but he ignored the ruling.

Silhouette of a woman [file] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Silhouette of a woman [file]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The father of a man who has refused to give his wife a divorce for 13 years has been issued with an unprecedented fine of NIS 5,000 a day by the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court, due to the court’s firm belief that the he is behind his son’s divorce recalcitrance.
The disturbing case involves an American couple who were on a trip to Israel some 13 years ago.
During the visit, the wife suffered a medical brain trauma leaving her permanently disabled. Her husband abandoned her and their children in Israel and returned to the US, and has refused to grant her a divorce ever since.
The Tel Aviv rabbinical court ruled nearly five years ago that the man was obligated to grant a divorce, but he ignored the ruling.
When the rabbinical court investigated his motivation for refusing to grant the divorce for so long, it discovered that his father – a well-known and very wealthy businessman from the haredi community who has donated significantly to the haredi community in Israel – was behind his son’s divorce recalcitrance.
When the father and his wife came to Israel for a visit in 2016, the rabbinical court issued an order banning them from leaving the country and summoned them to give testimony to the court.
The court even sentenced the father to 30 days imprisonment, although he has appealed the sentence and has yet to serve it.
The father has made numerous appeals against the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court rulings to both the Supreme Rabbinical Court and the Supreme Court, including against the ban on him leaving the country.
In his latest motion, the father tried to claim that he had tried to convince his son to grant the divorce and brought several witnesses to testify on his behalf.
On Thursday, the court ruled the testimony of his witnesses was totally unreliable, and reiterated its belief that the father has told his son not to grant the divorce and is the prime motivating factor behind his ongoing recalcitrance.
The court acknowledged, however, that it did not fully understand the father’s motivation in his stance.
The rabbinical judges issued him with a NIS 5,000 daily fine until his son grants a divorce, as well as NIS 50,000 in legal costs, and an unusual fine of NIS 20,000 against his two lawyers in further legal expenses.
“After a lengthy and complex process, we have come to the decision that the accused continues to stand behind the ‘imprisonment’ of his daughter-in-law and that there is nothing to his claims that he acted to convince his son to give a divorce,” the court wrote in its decision.
“It is hard to establish what the specific, clear, rational motivation is for his cruel behavior,” the rabbinical judges wrote, “but it appears that his actions stem from a desire for revenge which increases as the process drags on – and due to his restriction from leaving the country, his hardness of heart, and his ‘intoxication from power and pride.’”
Attorney and rabbinical court advocate Osnat Sharon, from the Yad La’isha (Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center) organization, part of the Ohr Torah Stone network, which is representing the wife, praised the court and the head of the judicial panel, Rabbi Shlomo Shtasman, for their stance in seeking to obtain a divorce for the woman by pressuring all those involved.
“I and all of the Yad La’isha team assisting the woman in this long and exhausting legal process hope that this ruling will turn the father from his belligerent path and lead him to arrange the divorce,” she said.