Protestors at a Nevada wedding voiced their discontent towards a groom’s refusal to grant his previous wife a religious divorce, despite being civilly divorced for about seven years. The religious divorce is necessary because the man and his first wife are both observant Orthodox Jews, and Jewish law requires a religious divorce before either spouse can remarry. Unfortunately the religious divorce requires the consent of the husband and in this case he has refused to provide it. He has obtained a second marriage through a loophole in the law where he can get an exception with the consent of 100 rabbis.
This case is an example of a larger problem in the Orthodox Jewish community where many women are finding themselves in a marital limbo with ex-husbands who are not granting religious divorces. Without the religious divorce they cannot remarry or even date within their communities or among others who hold the same religious beliefs. This leaves many women with the difficult choice of leaving their friends, family, and a tight-knit community if they want to remarry outside of the bounds of religious laws.
Religious issues are no small part of the equation when it comes to marriage and divorce in Nevada. For many people the religious implications of a marriage or the decision to divorce weigh heavily on their ultimate choice, and this means that often family law and religious issues become intertwined. In these cases there is little that state family courts can do to help women obtain religious divorces, but family law advocates can help people work towards a solution using alternative dispute resolution tools.
Source: New York Times, “Unwilling to Allow His Wife a Divorce, He Marries Another,” Jennifer Medina, March 21, 2014.