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Where resolution of the disputes cannot be made without extensive inquiry by civil courts into religious law and polity, U.S. Const. amends. I, XIV mandate that civil courts shall not disturb the decisions of the highest ecclesiastical tribunal within a church of hierarchical polity, but must accept such decisions as binding on them, in their application to the religious issues of doctrine or polity before them.
The parties, plaintiff Sondra Faye Aflalo and defendant Henry Arik Aflalo were married and have one child. Plaintiff wife filed a complaint seeking a dissolution of their marriage. Defendant did not want a divorce and so he took an action with The Union of Orthodox Rabbis to have a hearing on his attempts at reconciliation. Defendant-husband's attorney asked the court to remove him as counsel because he had a religious problem representing a man who, at the conclusion of a divorce proceeding, refused, without reason, to give his wife a "get," a Jewish bill of divorce. Defendant testified that he would follow the recommendations of the rabbinical tribunal and would give the "get" if that was the end result of those proceedings. Additionally, plaintiff moved to compel defendant to provide her with a "get."
Should the plaintiff wife’s request to compel defendant to provide with a “get” be granted?
The court denied defendant husband's counsel's motion for removal for religious reasons because the defendant's position regarding his willingness to provide a "get," a Jewish bill of divorce, eliminated counsel's concerns. Also, the court denied plaintiff's wife request that the court require defendant to provide her with a "get" because plaintiff's choice to be bound by the religious tenets of Judaism could not have been remedied by the court. The court held that the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of U.S. Const. amend. I, prohibited it from interfering. Therefore, the court held that while it might have seemed unfair that defendant could have ultimately refused to provide a "get," unfairness came from plaintiff's own sincerely-held religious beliefs because, when she entered into the "ketubah," she agreed to be obligated to the laws of Moses and Israel. The court held that this choice could not have been remedied by the court.