Religious Divorces

Hi there,

It’s a lousy, rainy day in Boston (don’t you hate rainy Mondays), so I decided to deal with an acrimonious, non-legal issue that can cause real problems.

Catholics and Orthodox Jews both have a requirement that the believer obtain a religious divorce before he or she can remarry in their faith.

The Catholic divorce is actually an annulment.  In other words, the individual must show the tribunal which handles annulments that the marriage was not a marriage from the beginning, due to a basic failure of the parties to have a true religious commitment.  This can, as you might imagine, cause a great deal of consternation both to the former spouse and the children.  Although the Church says that the children are legitimate (of course they are!) there can be a real feeling of abandonment and betrayal of the actual years of the marriage.

In the Jewish religion, the religious divorce is called a Get.  Only the husband can give the wife a Get and if he refuses then she can’t get remarried in her faith.  Often, the commitment to obtain a Get is set forth in the civil divorce agreement.  Oddly enough, there are often fights post-divorce to enforce that requirement.  It all can become very nasty.