Getting Got: Jewish Divorce, Chained Wives, and Husbands on the Run

by Admin on March 26, 2012

As any family lawyer can attest, divorces are at the best of times unpleasant, and at the worst of times experiences that can be likened to getting teeth pulled – without Novocain. Unfortunately for a small subset of Orthodox Jewish women known as “agunot”, this disagreeable experience is one that might last for years or even decades, thanks to the mandates that govern Jewish divorces, or “gets”.


“Agunot” translates to “chained wife”, and indeed these women are figuratively bound to their husbands; under orthodox Jewish law, only men are allowed to give their consent for a religious divorce and provide their wives with gets. For religious women, the experience might be akin to being kept in limbo, as being an agunot prevents remarriage to a man with similar Orthodox Jewish values.

Get refusal and agunot have been publicly decried as forms of emotional abuse, nevertheless, the practice still continues, as husbands use get refusals as a means of blackmailing their wives into agreeing to child custody agreements or favorable alimony settlements.

It’s also worth noting that men as well as women can be victims of Orthodox Jewish divorce laws and the rules governing gets. Men who withhold gets due to divorce agreements that they find unfair may be targeted for violence, and may even choose to flee to places such as Thailand to escape the long arm of Jewish divorce law. However, as a Thailand divorce lawyer can attest, you can run but you can’t hide.

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