Divorce, in Judaism, is subject to various religious rules and strictures.

Divorce documents

In Jewish Law a get (גט, plural gittim or gittin גיטין) is a divorce document, which is presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce. The essential text of the get is quite short: "You are hereby permitted to all men," i.e., the wife is no longer a married woman, and the laws of adultery no longer apply. The get also returns to the wife the legal rights which a husband holds in regard to his wife in a Jewish marriage.

Rights of divorce

According to the halakha, a husband may divorce his wife at any time for any reason.[1] However, one of the enactments of Gershom ben Judah was forbid a husband to divorce his wife against her will.[2]

Custody of children

According to halakha, both sons and daughters generally stay with the mother until the age of six, and the father must support them.[3] At the age of six, the father may stop supporting his male children if they do not live with him. However, if the court deems it preferable for the children to be with their father, the court has the right to give the father custody.[4]


In Judaism, alimony for a divorcee is a right written into most ketubos; the sum of money itself is often referred to as the ketubah, in consequence of this. According to the Talmud, a divorcee could collect her alimony at any point following her divorce, no matter how many years had passed[5]. The right of a wife to claim the alimony could also be transferred by her to anyone including selling that right.[6]

The minimum amount for ketubah is 200 zuzim for a virgin bride and 100 zuzim for a non-virgin bride.[7]; 200 Zuzim is generally considered[by whom?] to have been enough for a woman to financially support herself for a full year. These minimum amounts were not the upper limit, meaning that the groom could, if he wished, increase the amount of alimony that the bride would receive.[8]

There are, though, several things which Jewish tradition regards as sufficient to cause the alimony to be forfeited should the bride have committed them. Examples include certain violations of the rules of tzniut; adultery; and actively causing her husband to violate halakha through actions such as having sexual intercourse with her husband while she was a niddah, giving her husband non-kosher food.[9]


To the same person

The Mishnah forbade remarriage if the ketubah contained a clause granting the wife alimony in the event of divorce, and a third party had been the guarantor of this money[10]. This was an anti-fraud measure; without it, the couple could collude against the guarantor, by divorcing in order to obtain the money, and then remarrying again[10].

To someone else

In Judaism, there is no inherent stigma to being a divorcee but the Talmud suggests that it would be unwise for men to marry a divorcee or a widow.[11]. The Talmud favors the remarriage of a divorced couple to each other again.[12]

The Talmud addresses the problem of fraudulent and conspiratorial divorces, by forbidding certain people from marrying particular widows or divorcees. A suspected adultress, once she became divorced or widowed, was forbade from marrying the paramour with which she was suspected to have committed the adultery[13][14], unless she had been married to someone else in between[15]; the intervening marriage was thought to refute, to some degree, the accusation of the adultery[15][16]. Nor does the Talmud permit anyone involved in a woman's divorce proceedings to marry her after the divorce, including the person who actually delivered the divorce documents (the get) to her[17][18][19].

In order to prevent doubt about the paternity of children, the classical rabbis forbade all women from remarrying until at least 90 days had passed since the end of their previous marriage, so that it could be determined whether she was pregnant[20]. For the sake of standardisation, the classical rabbis insisted upon a woman waiting the 90 days even when it was obvious that she could not be pregnant[21]. Women were also forbade from re-marriage if they were visibly pregnant during this period, or had a child younger than 24 months old, if it was still breastfeeding when the previous marriage ended[22][23]; once the child had reached 24 months in age, or died, the mother was allowed to re-marry (if there was no other impediment)[22][23].

See also


  1. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (119:1) Bais Shmuel loc. cit. gloss 3
  2. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (119:6) Rama loc. cit.
  3. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (82:6)
  4. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (82:6) gloss of the Rama
  5. Ketubot 104a
  6. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (105:1)
  7. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (66:6)
  8. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (66:7)
  9. Shulchan Aruch Even Ha'ezer (115:1)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Tractate Bava Batra, 10:9
  11. Pesahim 112a
  12. Tractate Eduyot, (4:7)
  13. Yevamot (2:8}
  14. Sotah 25a
  15. 15.0 15.1 Yevamot 24b
  16. This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article "Adultery", a publication now in the public domain.
  17. Yevamot (2:9)
  18. Yevamot 25a
  19. Gittin 45a
  20. Yevamot (4:10)
  21. This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article "marriage laws", a publication now in the public domain.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Yevamot 41a
  23. 23.0 23.1 Yevamot 42a

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