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Religious Divorce

A Jewish woman will often request a Get from her husband. A Get is a Jewish, religious divorce that is granted to the wife by the husband. According to the Jewish religion, a woman must have been granted a Get in order to remarry in the Jewish religion. 

The husband must consent to the provision of a Get in order for it to be valid. However, if a husband refuses to provide a Get to the wife, a husband could be seen to be attempting to influence the wife in the civil divorce proceedings.

Pursuant to Section 21.1 of the Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c. 3 (2nd Supp.), a spouse may file an Affidavit with the Court indicating that the other spouse has not removed religious barriers to the remarriage of the spouse filing the Affidavit.

Also pursuant to section 21.1, if a spouse does not reply to the deponent's Affidavit within 15 days of filing, indicating that the religious barriers have been removed, the Court is permitted to dismiss any Application filed by the other spouse under the Divorce Act and may strike out any other pleadings and Affidavits filed by the other spouse under the Divorce Act.

However, pursuant to Section 21.1 of the Divorce Act, a Court may refuse to exercise its powers to dismiss an Application or strike out any other pleadings and Affidavits filed by the other spouse if the other spouse files an Affidavit or otherwise satisfies the Court that the other spouse has genuine grounds, of a religious or conscientious nature, for refusing to remove the religious barriers.

Sometimes questions arise regarding the timing of the granting of the Get. The Get may be granted prior to the granting of the civil divorce. In consideration of Section 21.1 of the Divorce Act, it is important for a husband to consider proceeding with the Get when requested because as noted above, the Court has significant powers to impose negative consequences for a husband who will not grant a Get.

For those clients that follow the Jewish religion, it is important to consult a lawyer regarding the implications of the Get in the context of a civil divorce.

Authors: Joni J. Funk and Leigh Sherry

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