Thursday, May 22, 2008

New York Court Declines to Recognize Israeli Divorce

On May 8, we reported on a Maryland court's refusal to affirm the legal validity of an Islamic divorce or talaq obtained in Pakistan.

Earlier this week, Law.com highlighted an analogous decision by a New York state court, rejecting an Israeli divorce or get:

A New York state judge has declined to recognize an Israeli divorce judgment that was based on a "get," or decree of divorce, issued by a Brooklyn rabbi.

"If this court were to sanction the utilization of a 'Get' to circumvent the constitutional requirement that only the Supreme Court can grant a civil divorce, then a party who obtains a 'Get' in New York could register it in a foreign jurisdiction and potentially, later on, rely on the 'Get' to obtain a civil divorce in New York thereby rendering New York State's Constitutional scheme as to a civil divorce ineffectual," Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Sunshine of Brooklyn ruled in Tsirlin v. Tsirlin, 20542/06.

For additional commentary on the Tsirlin decision, see: Israeli Divorce Based on 'Get' Not Recognized in New York from International Family Law Blog:

In a decision last week, Justice Sunshine... found that allowing a U.S.-based get to serve as the basis of a valid divorce would provide an end-run around the state's divorce laws.

Justice Sunshine relied on the 1924 Appellate Division, First Department, decision Chertok v. Chertok, 208 App.Div. 161, in which the court found that a get acquired in New York and "consummated" in Russia was not binding in the United States.

"[A]pplying the holding of Chertok to the facts of this case, although the Israeli government may recognize the divorce granted in New York City, it is void in its inception under our law," Justice Sunshine held.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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