Many religious couples seek the counsel of their imam, rabbi, priest or minister before they obtain a divorce. For someone who is active in their religious community it is prudent to know what’s next. However, it is important to note that just because you come to an agreement or resolution through your religious leader, does not mean you are divorced in the eyes of the law. Under current law in the United States, you cannot marry again until you obtain a legal divorce through the courts.
For someone seeking a religious divorce, think of a civil divorce and a religious divorce as two parallel paths. On the one hand, to be legally divorced from your partner, you must file a Complaint for Divorce with the Superior Court of New Jersey in your county. To be divorced in the religious sense, you must seek out your priest, rabbi, imam or other religious leader and request the termination of your marriage. Your religious entity is the only one who can divorce you in the eyes of that religion. That’s not to say some churches do not recognize a legal divorce. For example, in many Christian religions, a legal divorce is considered a divorce in their church and there is nothing further for you to do. On the other hand, in the Roman Catholic religion, you must apply to the Church for an annulment of your marriage as the Catholic Church does not believe in divorce. In addition, if you choose to obtain a legal annulment through the court, the Catholic Church will not recognize it. You must go through their tribunal to receive an annulment. Just as in the Jewish faith you must receive a Get from the rabbi terminating your marriage and allowing both people to remarry.
It is also interesting to note, that if you choose to mediate your civil divorce, aspects of your religious beliefs can be encompassed in the Agreement. For example, both parents may agree that each will do their best to bring their children to religious services each week during their parenting time. The parties can also agree the children will have a Bar Mitzvah when each child reaches the appropriate age. The mediation process can be beneficial to a couple with strong religious beliefs.