A personal trainer recently entered a guilty plea for his role in using intimidation to coerce Orthodox Jewish men in New Jersey to agree to religious divorces from their wives. Though irreconcilable differences are the only requirement for civil divorce, religious divorces under Jewish law require the husbands to sign a paper called a get.
Orthodox Jewish husbands sometimes engage in “get-abuse,” where they withhold their signatures from the document until their wives agree to less favorable property division settlements in the divorce.
To combat this practice, some desperate wives have hired men to physically assault and intimidate their husbands into signing off on the religious divorce. The trainer in this case was arrested as part of an FBI sting that led to the arrests of 10 men.
Undercover agents had offered to pay a total of $60,000 for the services of the criminal ring. The personal trainer agreed to kidnap, hold and intimidate the “husband” of the undercover agent.
This is not the first such ring to set up shop in the region.
Orthodox Jewish wives may be in a difficult position in divorce proceedings if their husbands refuse to sign the get. This may be used in divorce negotiations to settle disputes in favor of the husband in relation to child custody, child support, visitation plans and property division. In a high-asset divorce, the stakes may be large enough to tempt the wife to resort to illegal means to secure the document she needs to match her religious divorce with her civil divorce. It is important that both parties to such contested divorces resolve matters legally.
A skilled negotiator, such as an experienced divorce attorney, may provide mediation services to resolve the interpersonal disputes that sometimes make divorce both expensive and messy.
Source: Reuters, “Trainer admits guilt in New Jersey violent Jewish divorce scheme,” Dave Werner, March 6, 2014