A 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 (See Profile) ruled in Tsirlin v. Tsirlin, 20542/06.
"It would have the practical effect of amending the Domestic Relations Law section 170 to provide a new grounds for divorce," he said.
Justice Sunshine allowed the plaintiff-husband's
Jeremy D. Morley, an expert in international family law who is not involved in the case, called the decision surprising.
"Usually we would grant comity to a foreign divorce decree so long as at least one of the parties was domiciled in the foreign country," said Mr. Morley. "It's most unusual for a domestic court to look at the reasons behind a foreign divorce decree."
"It'll be interesting to see how the decision not to give comity plays out in other situations. How would it apply when you have an administrative divorce from
Alla and Alexander Tsirlin married in
In December 2003, the couple appeared before a
Two years later,
In July 2006, Mr. Tsirlin initiated the present divorce action, in which he also sought joint custody and child support.Ms. Tsirlin contested the action on comity and judicial estoppel grounds, citing the Israeli divorce decree.
In a decision last week, Justice Sunshine rejected Ms. Tsirlin's motion. He 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
By Mark Fass
New York Law Journal, May 19, 2008