Israeli Husband Evades Religious Divorce for 14 Years – But Wife Finally Gets Her “Get“
An Israeli wife’s 14-year battle to get her husband’s cooperation to divorce is finally over.
Her husband, Ronen Vital, had deliberately vanished after leaving a Jerusalem Rabbinical Courtroom over seven years ago, where he had been ordered to facilitate the divorce or else be imprisoned. But the story starts more than 6 years before that, when his 42-year-old wife Orly first asked him for the needed religious writ of divorce known as a get.
Under Israeli law, marriage and divorce are overseen exclusively by the Chief Rabbinate, which is the state religious authority. Divorces are conducted according to Jewish law, which includes a prerequisite that the husband must give a bill of divorce (the get) and the woman must accept it.
But when when Orly asked Ronen for a get, he refused. Even in the face of her begging for the next 6 years, he was recalcitrant. This left her in a legal limbo, since she was stuck in the marriage in the view of both the religious authorities and the Israeli state.
In past cases where Israeli husbands have withheld a get, they have sometimes tried to extort large sums of money, or insist that the wife relinquish her legal rights to financial support or property. Israeli Rabbinical Courts have responded by imposing various sanctions, such as banning the husband from leaving the country, ordering their employment is to be terminated, or ordering their arrest.
Indeed in Orly’s case, she was forced to obtain an order from the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court that if Ronen did not provide a get, he would be immediately arrested. Instead of complying, Ronen fled the courtroom on the pretext that he was seeking legal advice, and then disappeared for about 7 more years, essentially abandoning his wife and their four children. He was also the subject of additional arrest warrants, sanctions to urge him to relent, and an order barring him from leaving the country.
As the years ticked by, Orly suspected that Ronen may nonetheless had fled abroad. As it turned out, he had been living nearby the entire time – less than an hour from Orly’s home. He was located and arrested recently in Tel Aviv.
For a time after his detention, he still refused to cooperate with Orly, and made matters worse by making a series of outrageous financial demands, including that she give Ronen’s mother money. But after spending several months in prison, he ultimately relented, and Orly got her divorce almost 14 years after she first requested it.
For more on this story, see: