Thursday, November 14, 2013

Court Invalidates Couple's Agreement Negotiated Before Bet Din For Lack of Formalities

In Katz v. Katz, (S.Ct. Kings Co. NY, Nov. 7, 2013), a New York trial court held that an agreement negotiated before a Jewish rabbinical court (Bet Din) by a husband and wife is unenforceable because it was not formally acknowledged in the manner required by NY Domestic Relations Law Sec. 236B(3).  As described by the court, the wife argued that she:
was a "victim of extortion" in the sum of $70,000.00 in order to obtain a get, a Jewish divorce, from the husband....  [She] alleges that she only conceded to joint custody and to the parenting access schedule detailed in the May 17, 2010 writing because she "was intimidated to give in to the Defendant's unreasonable demands of custody, visitation and holidays" and that she believed that the husband would not grant her a get [a religious divorce] unless she did so.... She alleges that she placed $50,000.00 in escrow to "guarantee performance" that the husband would grant her a get and that she has "not received [the escrow] money and believes that it has been given to the Defendant, and that he is using [her escrow] money to support this litigation."
The husband denies that the wife was a victim in process of obtaining the get and alleges ... that if the wife "did not agree with the tenets of the Jewish Law and Torah or felt that the process was unfair to her, she did not have to go through the Get process" and that it is "disingenuous of her to receive the benefit of the Get and then attack the Jewish Law and Torah under which it was issued." He "categorically" denies the he received any money from the wife in exchange for him granting her a get. The husband alleges that it is he, not the wife, who is being victimized in this litigation: he alleges that "[i]t is only because [he] did not think [the son] should be traveling to Israel, that [the wife] is now retaliating against [him] by trying to take away what [he] value [sic] most in life — custody of [his] son."