NATIONAL NEWS
Jewish divorce is put to court test

BY DOREEN WACHMANN

JEWISH and civil law appear to be at loggerheads in a multi-million pound divorce battle between a Salford businessman and his wife.

Alan (Altie) Moher is appealing against a Family Court ruling which, he claims, prevents him giving his wife Caroline a get, a Jewish divorce.

Before a Jewish woman can remarry in Jewish law, her husband must grant her a get.

In November, Mr Moher was ordered by the Manchester Family Court to give his wife a £1.6 million lump sum and pay her £1,850 in monthly maintenance payments until he gives her a get.

But he claims that a get is only valid if it is given freely, not when he is pressurised by financial payments.

Mr Moher told the Jewish Telegraph: “I am not refusing to give my wife a get. She has been to three batei din.

“No beth din wants to pursue the case at the moment, as certain beth din conditions have not been met as yet.”

He has been to both London Beth Din and the Federation who are withholding judgement until after this court case is settled.

They are torn over it as it is an extremely complicated case. Pre-get conditions have not been met.

Dayan Gabriel Krausz, who has written extensively on the subject of get and coercion, confirmed to the JT that such a get, could be “null and void” if a ruling was made by a secular court and not by a beth din.

But he emphasised: “The situation is very complicated. A get has to be given freely unless a beth din decides that circumstances are such that halachically the husband is obliged to give it.”

Retired Family Court judge Lindsey Kushner said: “I have not seen the judgment nor the court order, but very often there are two-tier orders, one which reflects the wife’s financial entitlement if she does get a Jewish divorce and one which reflects her financial entitlement if she doesn’t.

“That is quite sensible. I can’t see where the coercion lies.

“She has to project forward without any hope of remarrying or any form of sustenance from anyone else.

“If she can’t remarry, that’s an impediment to her future to have aclean break and move on financially.

“One financial award if she does receive a get and one without I presume is the sort of order that was made.”

The Mohers married in 1995 and have three children. They split up in 2016 and have since been engaged in an acrimonious financial battle.

Mrs Moher, who has since moved to London where she is an events and operations executive for the Jewish Learning Exchange, claimed the massive lump sum was fair because Mr Moher had failed to provide adequate financial disclosure. She used £750,000 of the money to purchase a mortgage-free property in the capital.

Lawyer Rabbi Ariel Abel said that, on the face of it, a court judgment to treat one’s spouse as maintainable under current conditions of marriage is an expected consequence of a failure to dissolve that marriage.

“There are modern halachic opinions which object to any form of pressure leading to the giving of a get,” he explained.

“But that is not the only view in existence: Maimonides goes to extremes including corporal chastisement, which would be unenforceable in any court nowadays.”

“However, when such pressure is merely the result of the law of the land that a get is accommodated between decrees nisi and absolute, the court’s decision should have no impact whatsoever on the essential validity of the get itself when it is given.”

Rabbi Abel added that the court’s financial decision in this case appears to have been weighted against Mr Moher due to issues of his own conduct regarding disclosure of documents — a circumstance which could negatively impact against a spouse.

He continued: “In all cases, it is highly recommendable that before a statement is issued about the potential or actual validity of a get, a properly constituted and authoritative beth din relevant to the halachic jurisdiction of the litigants is consulted on the matter and that beth din communicates, where and when appropriate, its view to the Courts of Justice.”

The Jewish Telegraph tried unsuccessfully to contact Mrs Moher for comment.


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