Why do people get divorced?

Family attorney discusses reasons people divorce, says disagreements are 'not enough' for court to allow divorce.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Will they divorce?
Will they divorce?

Family attorney Mickey Shifman, who works with traditional families in Israel, said "matchmaking" is still popular in Israel, and it brings with it unique challenges.

Most of the disagreements involve details which were hidden from one of the sides, and only revealed after the marriage took place. These include physical defects and illnesses, as well as mental and emotional issues.

Shifman says the rabbinical courts tend to look for a scapegoat in the family, and place sanctions on him, such as paying the fines stipulated in case of divorce, and financially compensating the injured party.

"Not getting along" is not a good enough reason to divorce, but fertility issues, defects, and chronic illnesses hidden from the potential spouse are often justified reasons for divorcing.

"A while ago, a young man, the son of Russian immigrants, came into my office and asked my help in divorcing," Shifman said. "A matchmaker had set him up with a young woman, whom he met a few times before they married.

"A few days after the wedding, the young wife became depressed and did not get out of bed. Since the wedding, she has not functioned as a woman and she had not functioned as a wife.

"Neighbors of his wife's family told him her depression is not new, and that during high school, she was treated by a psychiatrist for clinical depression."

Shifman submitted the husband's request for divorce, and was requested to bring proofs of the wife's medical condition.

Among other things, he presented a picture of the wife's medicine cabinet, in which antidepressant medications can clearly be seen. He also submitted letters from family and acquaintances which stated both the woman and her mother were known to have chronic depression.

As a result, the rabbinic court decided the husband did not have to pay his wife any money in order to divorce her.

Shifman notes some of the reasons for divorce are laughable, but make sense. One such instance was a man who decided to divorce after discovering his wife's political beliefs were completely opposed to his own. This husband said he and his wife were constantly arguing about politics, and described loud arguments which often got out of hand and caused him to feel that he needed to leave the house and calm down.

In this case, the rabbinical court asked the husband if the wife observed Torah commandments. The husband said she did, and described how her kitchen was always perfectly kosher. The rabbinical judges then asked if his wife had refused to be intimate with him after they argued, and the husband said she had not. However, he said he was unable to be intimate with her, since he was so angry at her.

The rabbinic court refused to divorce this couple, and sent them to marriage counseling, in the hopes that they would learn to manage their relationship properly.

Disagreements are common, Shifman explained, but in order to justify divorce, there must be other issues as well.