The 'Chained' Woman's Unfinished Divorce

, New York Law Journal

   | 3 Comments

Michael F. Beyda, a partner with Chemtob Moss Forman & Talbert, writes: Although we can finally say that there is "marriage equality" in New York, there is at least one class of New Yorkers who have yet to enjoy "divorce equality." Specifically, there are a substantial number of New Yorkers who, though able to obtain a civil divorce from their spouse, are unable to obtain a religious divorce. This predicament effectively leaves these unfortunate individuals - at least according to their own traditions - married indefinitely.

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What's being said

  • Dave Cote

    Mr Beyda's analysis could be adequate and otherwise informative were it not accompanied by the overriding and ever present gender bias.
    The fact is that religious barriers are used to threaten or in fact punish a former or soon to be former spouse, come as no surprise to anyone with even a moderate experience with Family Law.
    However, the vengeance is not limited to men attacking women. Their relationship breakdown brings out the worst in both partners.
    Women use the religious tool as well. They have the power to accept or not the Get Mr. Beyda highlights above. They refuse in many cases where they have no interest in obtaining the Get. For example, when a woman abandons or was never interested in a religious marriage, and she either sees no benefit, or in fact gains no benefit from a subsequent religious marriage, she doesn't need a Get. She could, and in many cases does, stop her previous husband from moving ahead with his subsequent religious marriage.

    The abuse is no less harmful if perpetrated on a man; it should therefore not be seen as a nonissue, and Mr Beyda would serve us and himself well by recognizing the issue as none gender specific.

    I am not in a position to comment about the relative number of men to women who find themselves in this intolerable position, however, that would seem a practical issue and not concerned with the principle of Family Law.

  • Dave Cote

    Mr Beyda's analysis could be adequate and otherwise informative were it not accompanied by the overriding and ever present gender bias.
    The fact is that religious barriers are used to threaten or in fact punish a former or soon to be former spouse, come as no surprise to anyone with even a moderate experience with Family Law.
    However, the vengeance is not limited to men attacking women. Their relationship breakdown brings out the worst in both partners.
    Women use the religious tool as well. They have the power to accept or not the Get Mr. Beyda highlights above. They refuse in many cases where they have no interest in obtaining the Get. For example, when a woman abandons or was never interested in a religious marriage, and she either sees no benefit, or in fact gains no benefit from a subsequent religious marriage, she doesn't need a Get. She could, and in many cases does, stop her previous husband from moving ahead with his subsequent religious marriage.

    The abuse is no less harmful if perpetrated on a man; it should therefore not be seen as a nonissue, and Mr Beyda would serve us and himself well by recognizing the issue as none gender specific.

    I am not in a position to comment about the relative number of men to women who find themselves in this intolerable position, however, that would seem a practical issue and not concerned with the principle of Family Law.

  • Eugenia

    The Roman Catholic annulment procedure is quite different from the religious traditions discussed here, and has often been the subject of hurtful misinformation. A divorced Catholic remains welcome in the church and is by no means excommunicated; the annulment process is not expensive and costs are subject to waiver in appropriate cases; the children of annulled marriage are not considered illegitimate by the church. While a divorced Catholic cannot remarry in the church unless s/he obtains an annulment, the process itself cannot be started until a final judgment of divorce is entered by a court of appropriate jurisdiction. The annulment process also includes procedures to be followed when one spouse does not cooperate or communicate with the marriage tribunal. Not everyone qualifies for a religious annulment, but since the focus is on healing and forgiveness, it has been my experience tat more qualify than not. I urge counsel to refer clients to their diocesan marriage tribunals for further information.

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