Getting the "Get": Understanding The Difference Between a Legal Divorce And Religious Divorce in North Carolina

Posted by Josh Valentine | Mar 18, 2021

In 2014 Matt Shaer wrote an infamous article in GQ magazine about a controversial rabbi who attempted to coerce Orthodox men into giving their wives religious divorces through questionable means. These means included kidnapping, beating, and torture. He also charged the women attempting to obtain these divorces a fee of up to $60,000. That rabbi is now serving a 10-year jail sentence. However, the coverage of that case brought to light a world that most Americans are unfamiliar with — the world of religious divorce.  

Religious Divorce in North Carolina

Obtaining a religious recognition of a divorce can be more difficult than acquiring a legal divorce, depending on your religious tradition. In Jewish tradition, the husband must be willing to present the wife with a get for religious recognition of the split. A get is a document in Jewish religious law that effectuates divorce. It returns to the wife the legal rights that her husband held over her because of their marriage.

As you can imagine, getting a get is a lot simpler if your husband wants a divorce, but the process leaves the wife's wishes and desires out in the cold. If a husband refuses to present his wife with a get, she cannot remarry under Jewish law. She also will be unable to leave even if she is a victim of neglect or abuse. 

Legal Divorce in North Carolina

Though the waiting period to get a divorce in North Carolina is rather long, the legal requirements are straightforward. There are only two grounds for an absolute or no-fault divorce in this state. You and your spouse must live separately and apart for at least one year, and one party has to live in North Carolina for six months before filing the divorce action. Alternatively, if the couple has been living separately for 3 years as a result of the incurable insanity of one partner, then the court may grant a no-fault divorce as well.

North Carolina also has something called a "divorce from bed and board," which is the state's unique take on a fault-based divorce. A "divorce from bed and board" actually is not a divorce. It's a way for a couple to obtain a legal separation, and it's available in the following situations:

  • A spouse maliciously forces the other spouse to leave,
  • One partner endangers the other partner's life through cruel treatment,
  • One partner mistreats the other partner to the point that the other partner's life becomes intolerable;
  • One partner suffers from excessive substance abuse,
  • Abandonment, or
  • Adultery.

Getting An Attorney To Help

If you need help with your North Carolina divorce and securing religious recognition of that legal status, don't resort to hiring religious consultants who may use shady means to get it done. Instead, contact us. 

The seasoned family law attorneys at the Caulder and Valentine law firm work hard to support our clients with the legal services they need to untangle any divorce issue, no matter how messy or complicated. Contact our offices today to schedule a private consultation to discuss your case. 

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar