כִּי-יִקַּח אִישׁ אִשָּׁה, וּבְעָלָהּ; וְהָיָה אִם-לֹא תִמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינָיו, כִּי-מָצָא בָהּ עֶרְוַת דָּבָר--וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ, וְשִׁלְּחָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ
“When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it comes to pass that she finds no favor in his eyes, because he has found some unseemliness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorce, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 24:1)
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What is a Get?
A Get is a writ of Jewish divorce which terminates a Jewish marriage and enables the former husband and wife to remarry freely under Jewish law. It is a 12-line document, written by hand by a professionally trained scribe under the proper supervision of a Bet Din, or Rabbinic Court, and signed by two witnesses. Under Jewish law, a Get is presented by a husband to his wife. When she acquires the document, both of them are released from all marital obligations. They must still fulfill the obligations and restrictions stemming from divorce under Jewish or secular law, such as support payments, and custody arrangements.
For most Jews, marriage begins with a Jewish ceremony uniting a man and a woman. The Get ends, or terminates that union. It is a formal, clear-cut, legal process which requires only the consent of both parties. A get is advisable anytime the couple was married, even if there was no Jewish ceremony.
The Get makes no reference to responsibility or fault. It has no bearing or effect on any aspect of the civil settlement and does not does not subject either party to personal questions. As long as there is mutual consent, there is no need to state detailed grounds for divorce, although the beit din may give the couple an opportunity to briefly state such grounds.
Why do I need a Get if I have already obtained my civil divorce?
To dissolve marriage between two Jews, a Jewish divorce is necessary. A woman who was considered married under Jewish law, but does not receive a Get, is considered by Jewish law to be still married to her first husband, notwithstanding a civil divorce.
1. For your future: You may one day want to remarry in a Jewish ceremony and Conservative and Orthodox Rabbis will not perform the ceremony if you do not have proof of divorce under Jewish law. A Get will assure that any future marriage is recognized by all streams of Judaism.
2. For your children. It can be important to get a get for the sake of any offspring of a subsequent marriage. If a Jewish woman remarries without having received a get, even if she has received a civil divorce, the children of her second marriage are technically considered illegitimate by Jewish law. Such a child may be barred from marrying into many segments of the Jewish community, possibly depriving them of the opportunity to marry the individual of their choice. The status of a child born to a woman who is still technically married to her former husband, will be inherited by their children as well. For this reason, Jews of all affiliations and backgrounds may want to get a get for the sake of their future children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, whose affiliation they cannot foresee.
What are the sources for these laws about Jewish divorce?
The Bible(Deuteronomy 24:1-4) states explicitly that divorce is effected by the husband writing a bill of divorce and transferring to the wife. The Mishnah and Talmud contain a full Tractate titled Gittin, or Bills of Divorce, and these laws have been followed and developed up to the present day.
What if my ex was not Jewish? Do I still need a Get?
No. If you are a Jewish woman whose former husband was not Jewish, you are not eligible to receive a get and do not need one in order to remarry.
What if I did not marry in an Orthodox ceremony? Do I still need a Get?
Any Jewish person who has been married to another Jew is eligible to and should receive a get to end their marriage. If you were married under civil law (by a justice of the peace) or in a non-Orthodox ceremony, you should still receive a Get. For example, Jewish law may accepts a marriage as valid even if it was made without signing a Ketubah, although Jewish law frowns on such marriages.
However, when one party refuses to participate in the Get proceedings, it may be possible for a Beit Din to determine that the marriage was invalid under Jewish Law.
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Do all Rabbis require a Get?
Many Reform rabbis are willing to perform a wedding for a person who has previously only received a civil divorce from his or her former spouse, but it is necessary to get a Get in the Orthodox and Conservative communities. Reform, Reconstructionist, and unaffiliated Jews may still feel they need a Get in order to assure that any future marriage and children will be recognized by all forms of Judaism.
Why is it preferable to go to an Orthodox Bet Din?
One can obtain a Get from a Conservative Bet Din. Conservative rabbis also often add a clause to the Ketubah, which authorizes a Rabbinic court to annul the marriage in the event the husband refuses to do so. However, a Conservative Get is not routinely recognized by Orthodox rabbis as valid, nor are they currently recognized as valid in Israel. Conservative annulments are not recognized by Orthodox courts.
I don’t speak or read Hebrew. How am I required to participate in the proceedings?
The get process does not require religious observance, belief, or knowledge of Hebrew. There are no prayers or blessings involved. Though Jewish divorce proceedings have not changed over several thousand years, their nature is similar to most present-day legal transactions. You will be required to simply show consent and accept the writ of divorce.
Does a man need a Get in order to remarry under Jewish law?
Yes, but the ramifications are different. By strict Biblical law, he can remarry without a Get. Historically, and during Biblical times, Jewish men were allowed to practice polygamy, but Jewish women were only allowed one husband at a time, and were forbidden to marry another until they obtained a Get from their current husband, or the husband died.
Among Ashkenazic Jews, however, a Rabbinic decree issued more than 1,000 years ago forbade polygamy, and, to prevent indiscriminate divorces by husbands, this same decree also mandated that no woman may be divorced against her will. As a result of that decree, Ashkenazic Jews were required to obtain the wife’s consent or “acceptance” of any Get before it could be valid. Many non-Ashkenazic communities did not accept this decree until the founding of the modern State of Israel. However, it is now universally accepted, and men may not remarry without a get. However, the children of a man who remarried without a get are not considered illegitimate and may marry any other Jew.
Is getting my Get complicated?
When a religious divorce is not contested by either party, the procedure is quite simple. It usually costs under $500 and takes approximately an hour. The Get is handwritten by a Jewish Scribe in front of two witnesses. The husband then hands the Get to his wife and she accepts it. The marriage is dissolved and the couple is then divorced according to Jewish law.
Where do I go to get a Get?
A Get must be given by a Jewish court, called a Bet Din. A Bet Din is a Rabbinic court that deals with various business related and commercial disputes, as well as matters of personal status, i.e., divorce. A Bet Din is comprised of three qualified Rabbis, called Dayyanim. Most Jewish communities have a local Bet Din.
When should I get the Get, after or before my civil divorce is final?
A Get may be obtained anytime but it is safer to do it as soon as both parties agree, even before the civil divorce. That way, there is no risk that one party will seek to use it as leverage in other disputes. The get can also be arranged at any subsequent time, even years later.
Must I appear with my ex to get my Get?
Usually a husband places the Get directly into his wife’s hands. However, in cases where the husband and wife no longer live in close proximity, when there is acrimony between husband and wife, or when there has been spousal abuse, it is permissible for the husband to appoint another person -called a shaliach - to deliver the Get. Inquire about a Get by proxy when you contact the Bet Din.
What occurs during the proceedings?
a. The husband authorizes a Jewish scribe to write the Get. The scribe, or Sofer, writes the Get on paper with a quill, usually while the parties wait. Two witnesses must witness the procedure.
b. The husband (or his agent) declares that he is giving the Get of his own free will. When the wife receives the Get she must also state, in the presence of two witnesses, that she accepts the Get of her own free will.
c. When the Get is given to the wife, she cups her hands and the husband (or his agent) drops the Get into her hands. She indicates acceptance of the Get by raising it up, then putting it under her arm and walking a few steps.
d. The wife then gives the Get to a Rabbi. The Rabbi makes a cut in the Get to indicate that it has been delivered and accepted and cannot be used again by any other party. A declaration is made by the Rabbi that no one shall cast doubts on the validity of the Get. The Get is then put into the files of the Bet Din and each party receives a document that certifies that a Get was given.
How do I begin the process of getting my Get?
One of the parties seeking a divorce must call the Bet Din and schedule an appointment to initiate the proceeding. Either the husband or wife may initiate this contact. In Israel, a file can be opened in
What do I need to begin proceedings?
You need to know your Hebrew name and the Hebrew names of your mother and father. Names are very important in a Get. A Get issued by or to a person using an incorrect name is VOID. Be sure to provide the Bet Din with your full name and the full name of your father and be sure to verify the spelling of every name. It is advisable to check your Ketubbah or a copy of it for reference to ensure that the names in the Get are complete and correct. If a party referenced in the Ketubbah is known in the community by another name or a nickname, these names too should be provided in writing to the Bet Din and should appear in
Do I need to bring someone with me?
No, but it is not recommended that a woman appear before the Bet din by herself. Appearing before the Bet din can be an emotional experience and the litigant may need support. We suggest that a woman ask a female friend and/or a trusted relative to accompany her. If the person accompanying a woman has knowledge of Jewish law, that may be helpful, however, each Bet Din differs with respect to whether a non-party will be permitted to attend and/or speak during the proceeding.
A “Toen/Toenet” is someone who is trained in Jewish Divorce law and can represent a woman in a Rabbinical Court, or Bet Din. Not every Bet Din will allow a Toen/Toenet to attend proceedings and it is important to call beforehand.
Do I need to keep a record of my Get?
Yes. Each Bet Din decides how it will maintain its own records, and records are not always computerized. We advise that each litigant keep records for him/herself of the full name of the Bet Din, the names of all the Rabbis, the names and addresses of any witnesses, name of the scribe, a list of all other people present at the proceeding, and the location, date and time of all proceedings.