Guidelines for Jewish Fathers in Bais Din

We are presenting here a list of suggested guidelines for Jewish fathers (or husbands without children) who are in Beis Din – Beit Din – Bait Din – Bais Din (rabbinic court) to litigate their divorce issues.

These guidelines are only being provided as educational issues for fathers to research and consider. The guidelines provided here are not intended as legal advice, nor are they intended as binding halachic psak. The guidelines were not prepared by a lawyer or toen (rabbinic advocate for a litigant). Always review issues with your toen and/or lawyer before acting.

  1. ARCHAOT PROHIBITED: In Parshas Mishpatim we learn that Jews are normally prohibited from litigating (as a Plaintiff) against other Jews in non-Jewish courts, unless permission is granted to the Plaintiff by a halachically observant Beis Din. This is stated in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 26. If you cannot settle a dispute with another Jew by mediation, then you are required to submit the dispute to a halachic Bais Din. If you are sued as the Defendant in court, halacha will probably allow you to defend yourself in court, but you should consult with a rabbinic expert before you proceed.

  2. TOENS: Try to avoid, if possible, utilizing a Bais Din that allows “toens“, IE rabbis (usually not attorneys) who plead your case in Bais Din. These rabbis often charge their clients outrageous fees ($250/hr or more), while lacking professionalism and ethics, and while possibly offering inaccurate advice on family law, and while being subject to zero regulation by the “Orthodox” communities. For example, they may demand large sums for services they allegedly provided with NO itemized billing showing the hours they worked for their “client”. If you are to appear in Bais Din, ideally neither you nor your wife should appear with a toen. However, if your wife appears in a Bais Din with a toen, and you do not have one, you may put yourself at a significant disadvantage. If you don’t have a toen, your wife’s toen might “negotiate” the Bais Din’s “psak” with the Bais Din and without anyone being present to protect your interests!

  3. SETTLE ALL ISSUES: Settling all issues properly before a Get is delivered is standard halachic procedure specified in the Shulchan Aruch, Evan HaEzer. This approach is required to allow the husband to deliver a Get of his own free will in return for a previously agreed upon divorce settlement. Delivering a Get before all issues are settled may result in a coerced or invalid Get if the husband has not agreed to a defined divorce settlement. A father should not allow feminist rabbis and activists to trample on his halachic rights. Do not be bamboozled by claims that your wife will become more reasonable and fair to you after she receives her get. In many divorces women have become even more vindictive towards their ex-husbands after the get as they no longer fear him withholding it! A father should NOT deliver a Get until he has a proper divorce settlement, confirmed by the court, that preserves his relationship with his children and allows him to live normally, even though it may be a reduced standard of living. Using a Get for self-defense and defense of your children is not evil, regardless of the feminist propaganda onslaught. Before agreeing to appear before any Bais Din, make sure you are aware of their policies about when gittin are done.

  4. WIFE IN ARCHAOT AS PLAINTIFF: In this case the husband may very well have a halachic right to refuse to appear before a Bais Din until his wife exits family court and vacates the court orders. In this situation, a husband will need to consult with one of the few rabbis that respect men’s rights nowadays. Many feminist rabbis will simply pressure the husband to give a get, while making NO demands on the wife, while the wife destroys the husband in family court. A Bais Din settlement can be submitted to a family court for confirmation without engaging in litigation. If a father is sued as the Defendant in family court, halacha allows him to hire a lawyer and defend himself.

  5. PLAINTIFF IN ARCHAOT: It is very possible that if a Jew summons another Jew to a halachic Bais Din after first suing that Jew in court (without permission of Bais Din), the Bais Din will hold the plaintiff (from court) responsible for the defendant’s legal costs in court.

  6. BAIS DIN ARBITRATION: In the US, when a Bais Din arbitration contract has been signed by both litigants, the Bais Din rulings are considered enforceable arbitration decisions in many or most family courts. However family court judges will likely have the right to review the Bais Din decisions and possibly modify or nullify them under certain circumstances. Always check a Bais Din‘s policies before signing any arbitration agreements with the Bais Din. Is their policy to always do a Get immediately? Will they issue a “siruv” against a wife for using family courts without their permission? What is the Bais Din‘s hourly rate?

  7. FEMINIST MISINFORMATION: Jewish men may often be told erroneous claims that “Bais Din has no power”, therefore the father must accept that the wife has sued him in family court. This false claim is often used to legitimize use of secular courts by women who are actually in violation of halacha (as women will often prevail in family courts). In truth, the US family courts are often very overloaded and strongly support what they call “alternative dispute resolution”1 which includes mediation and/or Bais Din arbitration. If two parties submit any reasonable divorce settlement (that was reviewed by attorneys) to a US family court, without contesting the settlement, the settlement will likely be confirmed by the courts.

  8. REIMBURSEMENT: If your wife is a “moredes” that ignored halacha and sued you in court without valid permission from a halachic Bais Din, you may very well have the right to insist that all your damages (such as legal fees) be reimbursed prior to the issuance of any get.

  9. FEMINIST HARASSMENT: If your wife has engaged with feminist activists to harass or intimidate you in any way (such as by publishing your name on “The Jewish Press” site, on ORA’s website www.getora.com, or on social media sites), insist that all harassment and intimidation against you must cease prior to initiation of any mediation or arbitration of the disputed issues. No one should have to engage in good faith arbitration or mediation while being threatened, harassed, and intimidated by feminist hoodlums. Never allow yourself to be intimidated or harassed by feminist hooligans trying to coerce you to make concessions to your wife (including giving a get) before your wife has complied with halacha and before a proper divorce settlement was submitted to and confirmed by the family court. Show determination to the feminist hooligans that you have every intention to defend your God-given halachic rights.

  10. DO WHAT’S RIGHT AND SMART: A frum Jewish man should do what’s right (according to Torah) and do what’s smart during his divorce process. Preservation of his relationship with his children (if he has any) after divorce should be a top priority.

1 Alternative Dispute Resolution

Guidelines for Jewish Fathers in Bais Din