January 2011 Archives

January 13, 2011

Reminders for Parents: What Your Kids Want You to Know

The Executive Director of KidsTurn, a wonderful San Francisco-based non-profit agency providing resources to children and parents experiencing separation or divorce, has offered a brief yet crucial reminder of some of the most important things that kids dealing with divorce want their parents to do--and not do. From not trashing your ex in front of the kids to making sure you still function as a parent even when you're struggling with your own emotional problems, each of these five pieces of advice can help parents help their kids through the turmoil of divorce. 
January 5, 2011

Religious Divorce Dispute Gets Attention

Aharon Friedman and Tamar Epstein married in April of 2006 and separated two years later. Ms. Epstein moved from their home in Maryland back to her parents' house in suburban Philadelphia. In April 2010, after a messy court proceeding, a Maryland entered a judgment of divorce. 

But for these parents, both Orthodox Jews, the matter doesn't end there. Jewish law has its own decree of divorce, known as a get, and an obstinate husband can withhold the get--preventing the wife from remarrying within the Jewish faith. There's a word for Ms. Epstein: an "agunah," or chained woman.

Usually, disputes over a get are resolved quietly within the Jewish community--often by a rabbi or other community leader pressuring the husband to give the get. But in this case, Ms. Epstein has gone public with a recent protest outside Mr. Friedman's apartment. And a rabbi sent a letter to Mr. Friedman's employer--he is tax counsel for the Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee--asking that the employer put some pressure on Mr. Friedman to release his wife from the religious marriage. 

Mr. Friedman may be withholding the get because he is angry about the portion of the divorce judgment that allows him to visit his three-year-old daughter three weekends a month--in Philadelphia. The weekends start on Friday at 6 p.m. and end on Sunday evening--and as an observant Orthodox Jew, Mr. Friedman cannot drive between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, so he sees his daughter only on Sundays. 

Whether that's a good enough reason to deny his ex-wife the right to move on with her life after their divorce may be a question best addressed to a higher power....but it doesn't look like he's going to get a moment's peace on the earthly plane until the get is given.