The standard practice for Jewish divorce should look like this:
Choose a Beit Din
Contact the Beit Din to open a file to begin the Get Process
Schedule a Date for the Giving of the Get
The Giving Of The Get
Giving/receiving a Get without an understanding of the ritual can be scary. Here is what the process looks like and what to expect.
The beit din will contact you to collect some basic information. This includes your Hebrew name and your parents' names. Any nicknames need to be given as well as they are an important detail in the Get (for example “Jonathan" who is also known as "Jon")
The dayanim read out the document
Jewelry is removed from the hands.
Man and woman face one another.
The Get is placed in the woman’s cupped hands. The woman closes her hands around the Get.
The woman might be instructed to take a few steps towards the door to symbolize ownership of the document.
A sofer (scribe) writes the Get document on a piece of paper and it is signed by eidim (witnesses)
The dayanim confirm that the couple are giving/getting the divorce with free will
A dayan folds the Get and gives it to the man
The dayan says words for the man to repeat to the woman (“behold this is your Get”)
The dayan will instruct the woman to place the Get under her arm or in a pocket to symbolize that she has received it and it is hers.
The Get is often returned to the beit din for safekeeping and a divorce certificate is mailed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sometimes the process is not as smooth. Here are some FAQs about complications
How long does the Get ceremony take?Before the ceremony the dayanim will confirm details with the couple and a sofer (scribe) will write the Get with a quill and ink. The beit din might allow the couple to take a break while the Get is being written. The Get ceremony is a standard ritual though there can be variations (like if the Get is given through a shaliach or messenger). One should allow for an hour for the ceremony (not including the writing of Get).
What if I can’t afford the Beit Din fees?As a potential litigant in a Beit Din process, you can be open about your financial limitations and ask the Beit Din how they typically handle these situations. Many Batei Din offer reduced or delayed fees or payment plans to accommodate these scenarios. In addition, reach out to resources in your area to determine if they assist in paying fees.
What happens if a spouse insists on waiting until matters of finance or custody are settled?Although this is not yet the universally accepted practice in Jewish divorce, there are significant benefits to addressing the Get early on, particularly in order to avoid concerns of the get being used as a tool to extort concessions in a divorce. Please reach out to a local resource for guidance in determining a strategy informed by your particular case and needs.
What if a spouse doesn’t want to give a Get?In the event of a spouse refusing to give a Get, you will need to formalize the process through a Beit Din experienced in navigating contentious Get cases. Please reach out to a local resource to determine an appropriate forum and make sure you are factoring in additional considerations, such as safety, civil legal processes, and more. Most of all, research your options before you sign a binding arbitration commitment (sh’tar berurin).
What do I do if a Beit Din doesn’t respond to my emails?When communicating with more Beit Din, you can ask, “When can I expect to hear an update by?” If you have not received an update when the date arrives, follow up. You can also ask what mode of communication generates a faster reply, whether it’s phone, email, WhatsApp, etc. If you are still not receiving a response, please reach out to a local resource for support.
What if a Beit Din allows my ex to use the Get as a tool for manipulation (ie: demanding money, possessions, or a relinquishing of rights)?If you have not signed a binding arbitration commitment (sh’tar berurin), you are generally free to explore an alternative Beit Din. In some cases, however, there is only one local forum, in which case shifting the case is more difficult. Please reach out to a local resource for case guidance or to help identify an appropriate forum.
Can I bring a female friend or advocate to support me?Some batei bin have a female advocate to accompany women through the Get ceremony but one should always feel welcome to bring support to the receiving of a Get, female or male. The Get ceremony is an emotional moment and having the proper support is important. One should always notify the beit din as to who is accompanying them.