Canada’s highest court is being asked to consider a challenge to a controversial section of the country’s divorce laws that involve a religious divorce.
In 1990, Canada amended the act to prevent a spouse from using a religious divorce as a bargaining chip to exact concessions in a civil divorce. Jewish groups lobbied heavily for the change to ease the burdens of women whose ex-husbands were refusing to grant them a get, or writ of Jewish divorce.
Without a get, a Jewish woman is usually prevented from remarrying Jewishly.
The motion to the Supreme Court of Canada has been brought by Anne-France Goldwater, lawyer for Jessel Marcovitz, the Montreal man who in December was ordered by the high court to pay damages for withholding a get from his former wife for 15 years, despite a written agreement to grant it.
Goldwater argues that the amendment violates church-state boundaries and infringes on Canada’s Charter of Rights’ protection of religious conscience. She also argues that civil law should not be used to punish
someone for failing to perform a religious obligation.