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For some, divorce is more than just a civil matter

Many people in Little Rock may think of divorce as a purely civil matter; if you want a divorce you work with a divorce attorney to file legal motions, receive a judgment and have the backing of the judicial system should anything go wrong. For the religious, however, there are some requirements that go beyond the court room and require a member of the clergy's assistance. For anyone that follows Jewish law, or Halacha, divorce also requires a religious divorce, or a get.

When a Jewish woman is divorced in an American court, she is legally able to remarry whomever she chooses, but without a get, the religiously observant are considered "chained women." This means that they cannot remarry, despite their legal ability to do so. It seems that some men choose to withhold a get from their ex-wives, knowing that they will be forbidden from moving on.

That is what is happening to one woman, an Orthodox Jew who divorced her husband in civil court in 2010. She and her husband went through the traditional divorce proceedings, including crafting a coparenting schedule for their young daughter. The woman has even shown considerable flexibility, allowing the father's visitation to start a day earlier so as not to conflict with the Sabbath. Yet, the man refuses to grant his former wife a religious divorce.

While it is unlikely that a Little Rock divorce lawyer would be able to help with religious divorces, they can take care of the civil divorce. Regardless of if a couple receives a religious divorce, only a civil divorce is recognized in the eyes of the law and by the government. So, if a religiously observant couple truly wants to separate, they will need to ensure that they have both a civil and religious divorce.

Source: The Jerusalem Post, "Outrage at US Congress staffer over 'get' refusal," Sam Sokol, Feb. 27, 2013

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