A Get is a divorce document which according to Jewish Law must be presented by a husband to the wife to enable the divorce to be recognised. Only the husband can obtain a Get. This can cause difficulties when a wife Petitions for a divorce but the husband refuses to obtain a Get. The wife will have no possibility of remarriage within Orthodox Judaism without the Get. This can lead to a situation where the husband makes demands of the wife in relation to the finances or the children within the civil divorce proceedings in exchange for the Get.
The Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 which came into force on the 24th February 2003 has alleviated the difficulties to some extent as the wife may apply for an order that a decree of divorce within the civil proceedings is not to be made Absolute until the Get has been obtained.
However, many couples still face being divorced under Civil Law while still considered married under Jewish Law. Within the Jewish Law it is religiously forbidden for either spouse to remarry without a Get and doing so is considered to be adultery.
In modern day Israel Rabbinical Courts have the power to send the husband to prison and to even impose additional penalties such as solitary confinement to persuade him to obtain a Get. Rabbinical Courts outside of Israel do not have the same powers.
Recently it has been reported in America that two New Jersey rabbis have been arrested and charged with plotting to kidnap and torture a man to force him to obtain a Get. Both rabbis have been arrested by the FBI and are in custody awaiting trial.
Although this is an extreme example it highlights the difficulties the inequality in obtaining a Get creates in today’s society.