Under Jewish tradition, a man and a woman are married forever, even if they get a civil divorce from a secular court. However, their own biblical literature allows for a man to divorce his wife if he finds anything “unseemly” about her (Deuteronomy 24: 1-2). For that divorce to be recognized by Jewish authorities, the man must give his wife a written divorce paper, which is called a get.
By tradition, the get is written in Aramaic, and it also contains 12 lines of text. Another unusual aspect of the get is that it is tailored to the specific condition of the couple using it. In other words, there is no “form,” or formula, for writing the document, but a professional scribe for the husband usually writes it.
The get must be given to the wife by the husband in front of two witnesses and in the presence of a special rabbinical court called a beth din. The court then issues a certificate of divorce and hands that to both parties. If either party can’t make the appointment, however, they can choose an agent to stand in for them.
Other Interesting Religious Divorce Rituals from Around the World
An ethnic minority group in China, the Jing, writes a divorce certificate, but they are careful not to write it inside the home. Once it is signed, the pen and inkstone are thrown away, because they represent bad luck.
In Japan, one zen temple allows women the opportunity to literally flush their marriages down the toilet. In this ritual, the woman writes a list of post-marriage aspirations on a piece of paper and flushes it down the toilet.
Unitarian Universalists celebrate their divorce in a Ceremony of Hope. The couple gathers in front of family and friends and a minister to apologize to each other for any pain inflicted during the marriage. Family and friends vow to support the couple in their divorce just as they did in their marriage.