Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,
This opinion was issued by New Jersey's Appellate Division this past week. While I know little- if anything- about divorce law, I wish to make the following observations.
Some states have laws which require gittin to be issued prior to the settling of a civil divorce. Obviously, New Jersey isn't one of these states. We should encourage those "askonim" (read as the Aguda, OU, et al) to try to pass similar legislation in states such as NJ.
Sadly, I happen to know the husband in the NJ case. While I do not know this person well, and am not intimately familiar with the situation, this specific case has been festering in the Passaic community for several years. Whomever handled this issue from the rabinical side clearly botched it. As with other issues addressed in your blog, our rabonnim need training on how to address these issues properly.
Aside from the primary rabbi(s) involved, the beis din involved also clearly mishandled this situation. We must encourage bottei dinim to seek the assistance of attorneys when drafting such resolutions. The Court's opinion is heavily reliant on the unclear language in the beis din's ruling. B'H, some bottei dinim use attorneys (the RCA has one on staff).
It is clear that we have professionals in our communities who can assist with all of these necessities. What is unclear is whether the entrenched establishment will issue a mea culpa and seek help.
*Disclaimer: I do not practice divorce law and do not intend to dispense legal advice. As an attorney in private practice, please note that the foregoing is my opinion and not that of my employer.
A freilechen Channukah