On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County, Docket No. FM-16-1420-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 6, 2011
Before Judges Carchman and Baxter.
Defendant Marc Lowy appeals from an August 27, 2010 Family Part order that required him to provide his ex-wife, plaintiff Rona Lowy, with a Jewish divorce, known as a Get.*fn1 We agree with defendant's contention that the judge exceeded his authority when he so ordered. We reverse.
The parties were divorced on September 20, 2004 when the Family Part issued a dual final judgment of divorce, which, by agreement of the parties, incorporated the August 4, 2004 decision of a Bais Din (rabbinical court) located in Monsey, New York. The August 4, 2004 decision of the Bais Din addressed an array of issues including child custody, visitation, the children's education, the children's religious instruction, child support and distribution of marital assets.
Moreover, the August 2004 decree issued by the Bais Din addressed the issue of obtaining a Get. A portion of Section 6 contained the following provision:
If the arrangements for a Get will be made between Plaintiff and Defendant [sic], Plaintiff shall pay for Get fees incurred.*fn2
As is evident, the Bais Din did not require defendant to provide plaintiff with a Get. Instead, the decree issued by the Bais Din specified that if such a religious dissolution of the marriage were to be obtained, plaintiff would be responsible for paying for it.
We note that there were other references to a Get in Section 6 of the Bais Din decree; however, none went so far as requiring a Get, or requiring defendant to cooperate with obtaining one. The other references to a Get were these: "Until the issuance of [a] Get, plaintiff and defendant have no halachic*fn3 or otherwise monetary obligations [sic] to one another"; "Upon the issuance of [a] Get, defendant is not obligated to pay Kesuba*fn4 (Jewish marriage contract)*fn5 to the plaintiff"; "After the issuance of a Get, the plaintiff and defendant are halachically not allowed to live in the same house."
The relationship between the parties after the issuance of the August 2004 Bais Din decree was acrimonious, with numerous motions being filed in the Family Part to enforce various provisions of the Bais Din decree. Among those motions was an application filed by plaintiff in the latter part of 2005 seeking to compel defendant to cooperate with providing her a Get. That motion resulted in a February 8, 2006 order which provided in relevant part:
Defendant shall cooperate with regard to providing a Get in accordance with the decision of the Bais Din.
The Get was not obtained, causing plaintiff to file the motion that is the subject of this appeal, this time asking the judge to "[f]ind defendant in violation of litigant's rights for failing to provide [her] with a Get in violation of the February 8, 2006 order." Plaintiff further sought an order imposing a monetary sanction for each day after July 1, 2010 that defendant persisted in his refusal to cooperate. In the certification plaintiff filed in support of her motion, she asserted that defendant refused to grant a Get, unless she paid him money. Expressing her "frustration and aggravation over the refusal of [defendant] to grant a Get over the last 6 ...