Tuesday, May 23, 2017

CAN SPOUSE ASK COURT FOR FINANCIAL PRESSURE TO OBTAIN RELIGIOUS DIVORCE



Masri v. Masri, 2017 NY Slip Op 27007 - NY: Supreme Court, Orange 2017:

"In view of the foregoing, this court holds that in the circumstances presented here, increasing the amount or the duration of Defendant's post-divorce spousal maintenance obligation pursuant to DRL §236B(6)(o) by reason of his refusal to give Plaintiff a Jewish religious divorce or "Get" would violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. There is no evidence that the Defendant has withheld a Get to extract concessions from Plaintiff in matrimonial litigation or for other wrongful purposes. The religious and social consequences of which Plaintiff complains flow not from any impropriety in Defendant's withholding a "Get", but from religious beliefs to which Plaintiff no less than Defendant subscribes. To apply coercive financial pressure because of the perceived unfairness of Jewish religious divorce doctrines to induce Defendant to perform a religious act would plainly interfere with the free exercise of his (and her) religion and violate the First Amendment. The court accordingly declines Plaintiff's invitation to apply DRL §236B(6)(o) in determining Defendant's maintenance obligation."

A footnote in the decision notes: "On November 29, 2016, this Court gave notice to the Attorney General of the State of New York pursuant to CPLR §1012(b) and Executive Law §71 that the constitutionality of DRL §236B(6)(o), and of DRL §253(6) as incorporated therein, is at issue in this action. By letter dated December 27, 2016, the Attorney General responded that he does not intend to intervene in this action pursuant to CPLR §1012(b)."


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