In the cycle of life, there are moments of extreme joy and profound sadness, both of which come into play in connection with marriage and divorce. In the words of Rabbi Perry Netter (Divorce is a Mitzvah):
“Divorce is no less a life transition than marriage. But no invitations are sent out to attend the ritual of divorce. No one hires a caterer, a band, a photographer… While all other life cycles events are public, divorce is intensely private.
“Divorce is not about the division of property; it is about the division of lives. And lives are not divided until there is closure, until both partners accept that part of their lives and their history is dead and their marriage is over… The ritual of Jewish divorce choreographs the death of marriage. It is a ritual of termination, of cutting off, of final separation, leading to a process of closure.”
Under Jewish law, a marriage can be ended only by the death of a spouse or by a get. A get is a hand-written, legal document that formalizes the divorce. It is issued after a civil divorce is granted and is necessary for either party to remarry. Without a get, a couple remains technically married and remarriage is forbidden.
The process of Jewish divorce is as follows:
1. Both husband and wife will meet with Rabbi Davis to fill out paperwork that authorizes the writing of a get. These meetings may be held separately.
2. Once the information is gathered, it is then sent to a sofer (scribe) trained in the writing of a get who lives in Los Angeles. The sofer will write the get and return it.
3. The get is hand delivered to the wife before three witnesses (generally three local rabbis). The delivery is ideally done by the husband but can also be by one of the rabbis.
4. The entire process generally takes three months. The cost of the sofer is $550. Special arrangements can be made in cases of financial need.
While the divorce procedure has many legal aspects, we know that it is also a painful, emotional time. The get procedure, therefore, is more than just a legal procedure but a spiritual moment of release and healing.
If you are contemplating divorce, are working through a divorce or are ready to obtain a get, contact Rabbi Alexander Davis who can offer support or officiate at the writing and delivery of a get.