Religious practices and traditions may impact the creation and termination of marriages. In some religions, a person once married, may not validly remarry unless the previous marriage has been declared to be a nullity or terminated in accordance with practices and procedures of that religion. Failure to abide by the cannons of the church before a civil remarriage can result in exclusion from confession and communion in the Catholic Religion. A declaration of nullity, which declares that a valid marriage never existed, allows for a valid Catholic remarriage.
The procedure for Jewish couples to terminate a marriage is referred to as obtaining a Get. Like in other religious proceedings terminating a marriage, the Get, in the Jewish Religion, is granted by a tribunal. The process requires both parties to the Get to be in agreement that it should be granted. Absent a husband's consent, a wife would not be considered to be divorced and, therefore, unable to remarry under Jewish law. Once the Get proceedings are concluded, a man may remarry immediately. A women must wait at least ninety days so that there would be no question but that a subsequent pregnancy was not the result of cohabitation with her former husband.
A Get is not a universal requirement to remarriage in all of the Jewish religion. Orthodox Jews still recognize the need for a Get, while Reformed or Conservative communities may not.
Because both parties must agree and participate in the Get process, withholding consent could be seen as a negotiating tool or simply done out of spite. Convincing one to consent should not be coercive. It is unclear whether a civil court can compel participation even where the parties agreed to do so in their separation agreement.
In a recent article, USA Today reported the arrest of a Rabbi and others who allegedly used “kidnapping, cattle prods and karate” to convince Orthodox Jewish men to consent to a Get. Allegedly, the Rabbi and his “gang” charged women and their families substantial amounts to convince husband's to consent.
Hopefully, the alleged practices are not common practices. Surely, however, compliance with religious procedures and laws regarding termination of marriage is important to those who recognize them, and
wish to remarry.