What is a Get?
A Get is a Jewish divorce. Jewish divorce requires the consent of both the husband (who must freely give the Get) and the wife (who must freely receive the Get); there is no requirement that either party establishes grounds for divorce such as unreasonable behaviour, separation or adultery. The basic laws of the Jewish religious divorce can be found in the Torah, (Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:1-5).
Where a marriage has broken down with no prospect of reconciliation, a Get should be given as quickly as possible after the couple has separated and will not be linked to any other issues arising out of the marital breakdown such as the resolution of finances or child contact issues. A Get relates singularly to the halachic dissolution of the marriage and not the consequential ancillary issues involved which are the sole purview of the English courts.
The Get Process
The Get process comprises two appointments.
On receipt of an application for a Get, the London Beth Din invites both husband and wife to attend a telephone appointment. The average duration of this appointment is approximately fifteen minutes. During the course of this appointment, the Dayan will seek to check the relevant information relating to the writing of the Get. This will include the Hebrew names of the parties and of their respective fathers.
The Dayan will also seek to ascertain if there are any issues which may impede the administering of a Get.
Our team includes five Dayanim: Dayan Gelley (the Rosh Beth Din), Dayan Binstock, Dayan Simons, Dayan Englander and Dayan Zobin (click here for more information about our Dayanim). In addition, Get cases are managed by Ela Nicolaides, the Get Case Director, and David Frei, the Registrar, both of whom have an English law background. Our team of Clerks, who provide administrative support, consists of Vivienne Pottesman and Suzanne Phillips.
The London Beth Din understands that divorce can be a very difficult time and places enormous importance on dealing with each case sensitively. Where difficulties arise during the Get process, a member of our team will seek to progress towards the Get as proactively as possible with a view to ensuring that the Get is given and received without undue delay. When a couple have separated, our normal expectation is that both parties will honour their responsibility to ensure that the Get is completed within a few weeks of application, rather than months, regardless of whether all other issues in the divorce have been resolved.
The second appointment is when the Get is written and handed over by husband to wife. This appointment takes place in person at the offices of the London Beth Din. It is preferable that both husband and wife attend this session at the same time. We appreciate, however, that either a husband or wife may find it emotionally difficult to effect the Get together and, accordingly, if the parties are (or even one party is) unwilling to attend at the same time, each spouse will attend separately. The husband, whose appointment takes place first, will at this appointment instruct the Scribe to write the Get and instruct a member of the London Beth Din to act as his deputy/agent (shaliach) to hand the Get, once completed, to his wife.
Before instructing the Scribe, the husband will be asked to give proof of his identity. He will also be asked to confirm that he is giving the Get of his own free will.
Once the instruction of the Scribe has taken place (this takes about twenty five minutes), the Scribe, together with two witnesses (Eidim) and the husband's representative (shaliach), where appropriate, adjourn to a writing room. The Scribe then writes the Get. During this time, the husband and wife (if both are attending) may leave the premises if they wish, for approximately an hour, but for technical reasons must remain in London (Borehamwood and Radlett, for example, are considered outside of London), returning to our offices after an hour to finalise the Get process. The Get is usually completed, signed and witnessed within a period of around two and a half hours.
Once the document is complete and the Get has been checked by a Dayan, it is ready to be presented to the wife. If the parties do not attend together, the Get is handed by the husband to his representative and then handed over by that representative to the wife on a separate occasion.
When the Get is handed over, the wife will be asked if she is willing to receive the Get. If she is, her husband or (in the event that the husband is not present) his representative, will recite a form of words at the request of the Dayanim, which indicates that on receipt of this Get, she will be free from the Jewish marriage. The Get is then placed into the wife's hands.
Once the Get is in the wife’s hands, the procedure is:
1. The wife clasps the Get between her hands (there should be no rings on her fingers) and raises the Get as an act of acquisition.
2. The wife then tucks the Get into her pocket or under one arm, turns away from her husband or his representative and walks several steps away from him as a symbolic act that she is divorced in Jewish Law and is permitted to remarry should she so wish, after 90 days excluding the day of the Get and the day of subsequent marriage.
Once received, the Get is the wife’s property. However, it is required by Jewish Law to deposit the Get with the London Beth Din, who will keep it on file on her behalf. Get certificates, written in both Hebrew and English, will subsequently be issued for both parties and will be sent out by post. These certificates are evidence that the parties have been properly divorced in accordance with Jewish law. The Get certificates should be retained in a safe place.
Any party is welcome to bring a friend or family member with them to provide some company and moral support during the second appointment. The London Beth Din is fortunate to have the services of a voluntary group of female Get helpers, who work to welcome women to the London Beth Din when they come to collect a Get and to provide valuable moral support when it is needed. These helpers are knowledgeable in the Get procedure and are experienced and sympathetic. The Get procedure is a religious procedure and women and men will be expected to dress modestly and married women to cover their heads. Men are asked to wear a Kippah. A selection of scarves and kippot are available.
Once the Get has been received by the wife, she is reminded by the Dayan that there are two restrictions relating to remarriage. The first is that she may not marry a Cohen (those descended from the Priestly Tribe) as a Cohen may not marry a divorcee. The second is that a period of 92 days should elapse before she can remarry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs a Get?
Any person who has been married under Jewish law and wishes to terminate that marriage requires a Get.
Since in some situations, Jewish law regards the mere fact of setting up home and living together as being construed as a marriage, the question should be asked of the London Beth Din whether a Get is required in the event of separation of a couple cohabiting or those who have undergone registry office marriages and marriages between Jews which take place under non-Orthodox Jewish auspices.
If a party to a marriage is not Jewish, a Get is not necessary.
How do I apply for a Get?
To make an application please click here and complete the relevant details.
Alternatively, if you prefer you can write to the London Beth Din requesting a Get, giving your name, address and daytime telephone numbers together with those of your spouse. You should enclose a photocopy of your Ketuba, (Jewish Marriage Certificate), a copy of your Conditional Order (formerly called Decree Nisi) and Final Order (formerly, Decree Absolute) (if these have already been obtained) and a deposit cheque payable to USKB in the sum of £100. One of our Clerks will then contact you to take further details by telephone. The balance can be paid in advance or cheques and card payments can be taken at the London Beth Din on the day of your appointment. See How Much Does A Get Cost?, below, for more information.
If you prefer to discuss the points below on the telephone rather than complete this online please phone 020 8343 6270 and one of our Clerks will assist you.
What will happen next?
The London Beth Din will acknowledge your application and will write to you and your spouse individually inviting you to a preliminary appointment. If you wish to be seen separately for the second appointment, please mention this in your response.
Do I have to meet my spouse at any time during the Get process?
No. If the parties to a marriage are unwilling to attend the London Beth Din at the same time, the London Beth Din will give the wife the option to receive the Get from her husband’s representative (Shaliach), who will be a member of the London Beth Din team.
Do I need the consent of my spouse for a Get?
Unlike the Courts of most countries which make an Order terminating the civil marriage (hence the terms ‘Conditional Order’ and Final Order’) the London Beth Din simply supervises the writing of the Get on behalf of the husband and its transmission to the wife, to make sure that the many detailed halachic requirements relating to the Get are complied with.
If either party is unwilling to co-operate in the Get, the London Beth Din cannot override the consent of the parties for the Get but the Dayanim and other members of the London Beth Din staff will do their best to bring about the full and free consent of each party in order to enable a Get to be written.
The London Beth Din seeks to ensure that the Get process is not abused and that the Get is not used as leverage in the context of ancillary issues in the divorce. It views such abuse as a chillul Hashem (a desecration of G-d’s name) and will use all sanctions at its disposal in such cases to bring about the giving and receiving of the Get.
These may, in appropriate cases, include communal sanctions such as alerting the community to the Get refusal and advising them to refrain from business or social interactions with the Get refuser. In the case of members of the United Synagogue this could also include the withdrawal of privileges of US membership, including burial rights. In such cases the London Beth Din will first issue a series of formal summonses (‘hazmanot’), following which an individual refusing to give a Get may be declared a ‘mesarev’ Get.
Can I apply for a Get before completion of the civil divorce?
You can apply for a Get at any time after you have separated following the breakdown of the marriage. Although a Get cannot be written whilst the parties to a marriage are still living under the same roof, a Get file can be opened and the preliminary appointments can be held even whilst the parties are still living together. Under the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002, a person whose spouse is refusing to give/accept a Get can apply to the Court handling the civil divorce, for an Order preventing the Court making a Final Order until such time as a Get has been given/accepted. It is therefore advisable to apply for a Get well before the making of a Conditional Order in the civil proceedings.
Please also see the FAQ below entitled "Do I Need a Lawyer?"
What happens if I remarry without a Get?
An Orthodox synagogue will not permit any remarriage without a Get. A wife who has a relationship with another man without first obtaining a Get is regarded by Jewish law as being adulterous. Any children from such a relationship (if the relationship is with a Jewish man) will have the tragic status of mamzer, (illegitimate in Jewish law) and will therefore not be permitted to marry in an Orthodox synagogue.
Who should pay for the Get?
The couple should arrange between themselves or their solicitors, in the course of any negotiations, as to which of them will pay for the Get, if this expense is not to be shared equally, and this should be clearly stated in any consent order relating to financial provision.
When a couple agree to share the cost of the Get, this agreement is only enforceable under English Law by the parties themselves and not by the London Beth Din. Accordingly, the London Beth Din reserves the right not to issue a Get certificate to either party until payment is received in full.
How much does a Get cost?
The standard cost of a Get is £695.00. For United Synagogue members there is a special reduced rate of £495.00. If the Get is being written overseas and handed over to a wife in this Beth Din, the fee is £100.00.
You will be sent an online link for payment. Alternatively, cheques are payable to USKB and card payments can be taken at the London Beth Din on the day of your appointment.
Why does a Get cost so much?
The completion of a Get involves the services of a “Sofer” (Scribe), “Eidim” (Witnesses) and (in some circumstances) a “Shaliach” (Agent). The overall cost of administering Gittin is subsidised by the United Synagogue.
What happens if I cannot pay for my Get?
Given the halachic importance of the Get, the London Beth Din will never turn away a couple seeking a Get on the basis that they cannot afford to pay for the Get. We may hold back the issuance of the Get Certificate (which is necessary if either party wishes to remarry) until payment has been made, but in cases of financial difficulty an application can be made to have the fees waived. If you are worried about being able to afford the Get fee, please contact us.
Can the London Beth Din help with ancillary issues?
A Get relates singularly to the halachic dissolution of the marriage and not the consequential ancillary issues involved which are the sole purview of the English courts. Nonetheless, if both parties mutually request, the London Beth Din can provide the halachic opinion on financial and ancillary matters through a Din Torah. Whilst not enforceable in the civil courts, with the agreement of both parties, the Din Torah outcome could be enshrined in a civil Consent Order. If divorcing parties wish by mutual consent to enter a Din Torah to settle such matters, this must be undertaken entirely separately from the Get process. The parties should be cognisant that the laws of financial settlement may differ greatly from English law. The giving and receiving of a Get has no bearing on the adjudication of the issues that are the subject matter of the Din Torah, which are determined solely in accordance with Halachah.
What happens if my spouse is resident abroad?
If the overseas resident has access to an Orthodox Beth Din capable of administering the Get process, a Get can either be written in London and handed over to a wife overseas or written overseas and handed over in London.
I married in a religious ceremony overseas. Do I need a civil divorce as well as a Get?
If your overseas marriage is recognised by English Law (which will usually be the case if it was legitimately performed and registered by the civil authorities in the country in which it took place) then you will require a civil divorce in addition to a Get.
My spouse lives in Israel and I live in London. Would I need a civil divorce?
If the Get is both legitimately written and received in Israel and at least one of the parties to the marriage has a sufficient continuing legal connection with Israel, then no further civil divorce will usually be needed. However, if the Get is written in Israel and handed over in England or vice versa, a civil divorce will be required. This can be a complicated situation from the English legal point of view, and parties are advised to consult with a solicitor if in any doubt as to their civil marital status.
Do I need a lawyer?
It is unnecessary to instruct a lawyer with regard to a Get itself if there are no outstanding issues relating to children, the couple's financial arrangements or the matrimonial home. The London Beth Din staff are experienced in dealing with members of the public and do their best to make sure that everybody who comes to the London Beth Din is kept fully informed of the Get procedure in general and of the progress of their own case.
If, however, your spouse is not co-operating with obtaining the Get, it would be in your interests to instruct a lawyer to advise you about the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002. There is an equivalent law in Scotland.
Where a lawyer is instructed in relation to the civil proceedings, Ela Nicolaides, the Get Case Director, or David Frei, the Registrar of the London Beth Din, will be happy to liaise with them. It can often be beneficial, as part of the Get process, for the London Beth Din team to be fully aware of the stage reached in the civil proceedings and vice versa.
Please also see the FAQ above entitled "Can I Apply For A Get Before Completion Of The Civil Divorce?"
For more information, please contact us using the form or details below.