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Knesset Imposes Sanctions on Men Who Deny Divorce Papers

The Knesset passed a law Monday night aimed at encouraging rabbinical courts to impose sanctions on husbands who refuse to give their wives a get, or Jewish bill of divorce.

Officially, there are hundreds of women in Israel who have been denied a get by their husbands. But surveys by women’s rights organizations suggest the actual number runs into the thousands.

By law, marriages and divorces of couples in which both spouses are Jewish are handled only by the rabbinical courts, which are governed by Jewish religious law. In Jewish law, divorce requires the consent of both husband and wife, and one spouse will sometimes exploit this requirement to extort concessions on custody or financial settlements from the other.

The new law, which was sponsored by MKs Otniel Schneller (Kadima) and Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), states that every divorce decree issued by a rabbinical court must include a date by which the get is to be arranged. If either spouse fails to provide the get by the specified date, the rabbinical court will now be required to reconvene and consider imposing sanctions.

The law also requires the court to reconvene on a regular basis to track the status of the get, whether or not sanctions are imposed.

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