Jewish Fathers Rights During Divorce
We list here some basic Torah divorce law generally applicable to Jewish fathers rights during divorce which have received little attention in the Jewish media:
1. Torah justice rejects arbitrary divorce on demand incited by either husband or wife. Forcing a decent, normal spouse to divorce is grossly unjust. Divorces should be prevented or discouraged except in the most extreme circumstances. According to normative halacha, a husband/wife cannot force a divorce on demand from their spouse for any superficial, emotional based reasons such as “I don’t like my spouse”, known as mous ali in halacha. Do not allow feminists to equate “divorce refusal” with “get refusal”. They are two completely different matters. Divorce refusal, when a spouse is not obligated to divorce by halacha, is NOT unethical or abusive, regardless of the feminist propaganda storms.
2. Halachic citations from the Shulchan Aruch and Talmud rule that women may not arbitrarily force divorce on their husbands:
“Halacha: The Shulchan Aruch (Evan HaEzer 77:2) rules that if the woman who rebels is ready to get divorced and to forgo her Kesuvah, she cannot force the husband to divorce her (the opinion of Rabeinu Tam). If he wants to divorce her, he may divorce her right away.”1
The normative halachic approach for hundreds of years has been that simply because a wife is demanding a Get is not proof that the marriage is really dysfunctional, rather a Beit Din has to be concerned that the wife demanding a Get has “cast her eyes on another man”. This is an important principle for debunking agunah feminists who utilize disingenuous arguments such as “how can we demand that someone stay married to a spouse they don’t want to remain married to?”
“We should be concerned lest she put her eyes on another man [and says “he is repulsive to me” in order to be divorced]!”2
3. According to normative halacha, if a Get is to be done, it should be done after all issues are properly settled, and without any persecution and harassment of the husbands. Harassment, slander, and persecution of decent husbands by feminist militants such as ORA must stop.
4. A divorced Jewish parent has a right to regular access and parenting time with their children without interference or alienation being caused by the other parent.
5. Divorces must be conducted according to Torah principles not feminist police state law. Torah justice rejects the gross injustices of the non-Jewish family courts including alimony payments, imputed income, debtor’s prison, high child support payments, restraining orders and jail for non-violent spouses, etc.
6. A divorced Jewish father who is denied access to his children, or who has been financially crippled and persecuted in family courts or persecuted by feminist groups such as ORA, may have every right to deposit a Get in Bais Din until he obtains relief from persecution and secures access to his children. (See the topic below “Depositing a Get in Bais Din”). Feminists who seek to deny justice to Jewish fathers are then the parties responsible for preventing Jewish women from obtaining Gittin.
7. There are NO normative halachic opinions (before the current modern Orthodoxy) that allow a feminist divorce on demand culture. The modern Orthodox rabbis are at a critical juncture. The modern Orthodox rabbis must decide whether they want to maintain any semblance of Jewish tradition and thus categorically reject “Orthodox” feminism and the feminist divorce on demand culture. Otherwise, the modern Orthodox movement will go down the same road of collapse and historical oblivion that Reform and Conservative already chose.
8. Marrying a second wife is of course allowed by Biblical law. Heter meah rabbanim refers to rabbinic permission given to an Ashkenazi husband to marry a second wife. This article3 on the daattorah blog describes how in some cases that are similar to the Friedman-Epstein case, a frum man may remarry without the need for a heter meah rabbanim, nor is the husband always obligated to give a Get.
In the many “frum” divorce cases where the wife is a moredes and has absconded with the children and ignored Bais Din, there is no basis at all for any coercion on the husband. Rather, the husband may remarry without any Get because the wife has forfeited the protection of the requirement for Heter Meah Rabbanim, which was never intended for a moredes.
9. If you are a Jewish husband whose wife has sent you a hazmanah (summons) to a Bais Din, keep in mind that as the Defendant (in Bais Din) you probably have a halachic right to choose the Bais Din you prefer to appear at. Of course, you should provide a written response to your wife’s Bais Din informing them as to which Bais Din you are willing to appear before. Otherwise, they might issue a “siruv” against you which feminists may exploit to justify harassing you.
10. If your wife sues you for divorce as Defendant in Family Court, and then summons you to Bais Din just to do a Get, you may very well be exempted by halacha from having to appear before ANY Bais Din until and unless your wife withdraws from Family Court and removes all court orders she obtained. In such a case though, you would be well advised to consult with a non-feminist rabbi who is knowledgeable in Bais Din procedures, before you take any actions. You want to defend yourself from having a phony “siruv” issued against you that can be exploited to justify persecuting you.