A man has reportedly been sentenced to 18 months in prison after refusing to grant his wife a Jewish divorce known as a “get”.
According to the BBC, Alan Moher was jailed after admitting coercive behaviour towards his ex-wife, Caroline Moher.
After the couple separated in 2016, they were divorced in the Family Court. However, Mr Moher refused to provide his wife with a “get”, a document which in Jewish religious law terminates a marriage and enables the former spouse to freely remarry.
As Ms Moher did not have this document, she was not able to remarry or even begin a new relationship with another man.
After admitting to coercive control, Mr Moher was given an 18-month prison sentence, as well as being ordered to pay £11,000 towards the prosecution’s costs.
“You sought to manipulate and control her all in the knowledge that it would substantially impact her mental health and in some respects also impact her physical health,” Judge Martin Beddoe said to Mr Moher.
This case was the result of a private prosecution for the charge of controlling or coercive behaviour, brought by Ms Moher.
The trial was due to take place at London’s Southwark Crown Court but Mr Moher changed his plea to guilty.
The court was told by Mr Metzer QC that Ms Moher had attempted suicide as she was “so worn down” by “psychological and emotional abuse”.
Ms Moher’s victim statement, which was read to the court, compared the marriage to being “put into a straitjacket, gagged [where] your hands and feet are tied”.
“You are dependent on your captor to set you free. That’s how I feel still being married to Alan.”
What happens if a husband refuses a “get”?
In Orthodox Jewish law, without a “get”, the woman will still remain married in the eyes of worshippers. This is the case even if a legal divorce has taken place.
Women who are trapped in these types of religious marriages are known as “chained wives”.
The statutory guidance under the Domestic Abuse Act has now been amended to say that withholding a “get” can be viewed as a type of domestic abuse.
Can my husband refuse to grant me a divorce?
This case was about a husband refusing a divorce under religious law, despite the fact that the couple were legally divorced.
Following recent changes to English divorce laws, the Respondent in divorce proceedings can no longer defend a divorce petition, meaning that your spouse cannot prevent you from obtaining a legal divorce.
For more information on divorce and how we can assist, get in touch to book your free consultation with one of our divorce lawyers today.