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Can crisis in Jewish community be averted with divorce mediation?

Jewish women in Washington state may want to heed the lessons learned by a woman who was legally, but not religiously, divorced from her ex-husband, a devout Orthodox Jew. To avoid her situation, divorce mediation is suggested. They did not enter such a process, however, and two years after the courts dissolved their marriage, her ex-husband had not provided her what is called a "get," a religious divorce in the Orthodox community. Without that get, she was not permitted to date or remarry within her religious group. According to a recent report, her situation was not unique.

The noted that women, sometimes young women with small children and little to no money of their own, are forced to trade off their financial and property rights in a legal divorce in order to convince their ex-husbands to allow them the get. This has created a situation in which a group of rabbis was arrested after the discovery of a plot to coerce gets out of divorcing men through violence. Divorce mediation may be a solution to the Get Crisis.

Experts list several ways that mediation might be helpful to end the fight over a get. One is to avoid a big scene in court. Orthodox Jewish society puts the husband in the sole decision-making role, and so taking him to divorce court may make him feel wronged, which could translate shame into anger. Mediation, therefore, may benefit the couple by keeping things quiet and not making the husband feel ashamed or out of control.

Mediation services are available in family court. The emotional stress of a contested divorce may be minimized by discussing things with a court-appointed mediator, who can listen impartially to each party in a marital dissolution.

Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Ways That Divorce Mediation Can Help Resolve the 'Get' Crisis", Morghan Leia Richardson, January 06, 2014

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