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DivorceIsraeli Divorce Based on Get Not Recognized in New York

May 20, 2008

As reported on Law.com, a Brooklyn judge refused to recognize the validity of a divorce granted by an Israeli court. The Israeli divorce was based upon a “get,” a religious decree of divorce granted by a rabbi.

The Court found that allowing a get to serve as the basis of a valid divorce would provide an end-run around the New York’s fault-based divorce laws.

“If this court were to sanction the utilization of a ‘Get’ to circumvent the constitutional requirement that only the Supreme Court can grant a civil divorce, then a party who obtains a ‘Get’ in New York could register it in a foreign jurisdiction and potentially, later on, rely on the ‘Get’ to obtain a civil divorce in New York thereby rendering New York State’s Constitutional scheme as to a civil divorce ineffectual,” Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Sunshine of Brooklyn ruled in Tsirlin v. Tsirlin, 20542/0.

Commentators have found this to be a curious decision.

It’s most unusual for a domestic court to look at the reasons behind a foreign divorce decree.

It’ll be interesting to see how the decision not to give comity plays out in other situations. How would it apply when you have an administrative divorce from Japan, which is alien to our system, or a divorce from a country that allows divorce for grounds that we find unusual?”

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