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Divorce law blog

Is my Get accepted as a valid divorce in the UK?

16/01/2015   By:

In the UK, a divorce can only be obtained in the court so if you obtain your get in the UK Beth Din it will not be recognised as effective to dissolve your marriage here.

Conversely, a get that is given overseas will be recognised as a valid divorce in the UK provided that it is effective under the law of the country in which it was obtained and at the date the proceedings were started either you or your spouse were:-

  • “habitually resident” in that country;
  • “domiciled” in that country, or;
  • A national of that country.

It does not matter if one of you is living overseas but if it is to be recognised in the UK it is vital that the entire proceedings relating to the get are carried out in the same, overseas country as a single set of proceedings. So for example, if a get was written in London and delivered in another country, even if the get is recognised in the other country, it would not be recognised here. In those circumstances you would still need to go through the court in the UK to obtain a divorce if you want to remarry here or make a financial claim.

What can I do if my husband refuses to give me a get?
Under Jewish law, unless she has a get, a wife is regarded as a “chained woman” (“agunah”) and is deemed to remain “married”. This means that she is unable to remarry. If she lives with another man, she and her partner are guilty of adultery as a matter of Jewish law and any children the wife and her partner may have together would be regarded as illegitimate (“mamzerin”). So, for a Jewish woman, the potential consequences of failing to obtain a get can be cataclysmic.

If your husband has promised to give you a get and is now refusing to do so you may be able to delay any court-based divorce proceedings until a get is given. The court has the power to postpone the making of a final decree of divorce (“decree absolute”) until your get is handed over so if your husband is keen to remarry in England this could incentivise him to hand over the get. However, you must act quickly and you will need to bear in mind that if the court has made financial orders in your favour, you will not be able to enforce certain of those orders until there is a decree absolute.

This is a highly sensitive area which has the potential to cause real problems at a time which is likely already to be emotionally difficult for those involved, but with the right advice and guidance the potential problems can be overcome.

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