Chapter 1 – It’s a Love Story
She got married at the age of 22 to her first boyfriend whom she fell in love with when she was 15. However, at the age of 27, she found him to be the farthest from the man she imagined would be the father of her children. Too kind, not sophisticated enough and not attractive enough. As a matter of fact, he had long since stopped exciting and interesting her and she felt lonely and longing for something else.
No children were born yet and she had already fallen in love with another man, more than 10 years her senior, powerful, ruthless and mainly exciting. The relationship began with the absolute belief that this was a love of a lifetime and she quickly decided to divorce and move on to her lover, a divorced businessman with three sons, who fought and won an all-out war against their mother for full custody. In those years custody battles were difficult but he was a strong man, fond of battles, who had not lost a fight and handled his divorce process as a take-no-prisoners battle, leaving scorched earth behind him.
She didn’t have it easy either. Her husband refused to let her go and she was at war with him mainly around receiving Gett (A Jewish divorce document signed by the husband in order to effectuate the divorce under religious law), which he refused to give her. Her lover paid for the proceedings against her husband and managed the battle behind the scene, supporting and encouraging her not to look back.
She left home and moved to live with her lover and his three sons, ignoring her husband’s pleas and her family’s attempts to warn her that her love was blinding her. Her mother, who did not accept her new relationship and saw her lover for what he was, did not like the battle they were conducting against the husband who was like a son to her. She was very worried for her daughter, who, with her lover’s encouragement, broke off contact with her family, angry that they were not happy for her and blinded by love. Scorched earth, indeed. Finally, half a year after she left home, he agreed to give her Gett and they divorced.
A few months after she moved in with her lover, she became pregnant by him and later gave birth to a daughter. A sweet little princess whose parents fell in love with at first sight. She has always dreamed of her on nights of loneliness and longing. He saw her as a genetic replication of his beloved, a magical princess following three sons.
Chapter 2 – An unexpected twist in the plot
Two years later, her ex-husband finally managed to get back on his feet, found a new woman and even moved in with her. It seemed as if everything was starting to fall into place in his life.
It was through Facebook, where he spent most of his time to escape his loneliness, observing pictures of his ex-wife hugging a blonde baby who very much looked like her. The jealousy he secretly felt motivated him to start a new life and raise a family. On Facebook he also found a new love, a beautiful young bachelorette who fell in love with his kind soul, and they bonded very quickly.
A month after he moved to his girlfriend’s apartment in the heart of Tel-Aviv, he went to change his address at an office of the ministry of interiors, mainly to issue the coveted parking sticker for Tel Aviv residents. When the clerk gave him the I.D. stub updated with the address, his eyes caught something that wasn’t there before. He grabbed the form and looked at it closely.
Shock. Total shock.
A daughter was listed on his I.D. stub. It took him 10 seconds to realize that this was the daughter of his ex-wife, who for some reason had been registered in his I.D. as his daughter. A brief legal inquiry made it clear to him that since the baby was born less than 300 days after the Gett was given, she was automatically assumed to be his and registered as his daughter to avoid the assumption of bastardy.
“Why didn’t you give her Gett when she asked for it?” Karma whispered in his ear. That’s what happens in a state governed by religious law. You can withhold giving a woman a Gett but you cannot put a child at risk of being viewed as a bastard, so you may get stuck with the consequences in the end (an important reminder for whoever thinks withholding Gett is a brilliant tactical move).
He first turned to his ex-wife who did not cooperate and made it clear to him that as far as she was concerned he could remain registered as the father and that only if he behaved nicely she would not require him to pay child support.
He then filed a motion against the ministry of interiors to remove from his records the registration of a child that is not his and conduct a paternity test. Her boyfriend, the real father, did not show his face once during the long proceedings. It was not clear whether his avoidance stemmed from the embarrassment he felt as a result of the situation, from trying to escape responsibility or from some strategic considerations of the lovers. During the proceeding, she argued all kinds of vague claims and in the end of it the child remained registered as his daughter as in the State of Israel no child can be put in jeopardy of being considered a bastard. He could do nothing about it.
Chapter 3 – Scorched Earth
Three years later trouble began in la-la-land. Her great love for her new partner had been replaced with a strong desire to escape his gripping embrace and her sense of suffocation gradually extinguished the flame of love. One day she just disappeared. She took the child from kindergarten and did not come back. She changed phone numbers, quit her job and disappeared. Just like in the movies.
He wasn’t short of cash and he hired a private investigator who searched for her all over the country, finding her finally staying with a friend in a godforsaken settlement in the south of Israel. She refused to go back to him and without hesitation filed a motion for a restraining order in which she described an uneasy life of obsessive love that eventually consumed her.
Her boyfriend was devasted. He could not believe that the love of his life had disappeared from him like that and had taken his princess daughter. He read and reread the love letters she sent him frequently (in court she claimed he demanded that she write them), carried pictures everywhere with him exhibiting a happy family and a girl who was dedicated to him. He could not fathom how his life fell apart like that.
The judge who ruled over the case recognized both of them from previous proceedings. Him – from his divorce proceeding and his bitter custody battles with his ex-wife over their three sons; and her – from the aforementioned procedure her ex-husband filed to null his fatherhood. He filed a motion concerning his daughter. Horrified that he would take the girl from her as he had taken his three sons from their mother, she was determined to cut him off from their daughter and was even careful not to sue him for child support, even though she was having a hard time financially. They both knew how to battle well, indeed it was he who had taught her how to do it when they met. She had fought and just as he had taught her, she had left scorched earth behind her.
In court he filed a paternity suit, motioning for a paternity test, but was dismissed once she claimed that he was not the girl’s father. as in the State of Israel no child can be put in jeopardy of being considered a bastard even if it is clear who their father is.
She moved as far away from him as she could so as not to allow any contact between him and the girl. They fought in court for five years, devoting their lives to it and burning all bridges between them.
The girl grew up and was made aware of the situation so eventually she was allowed to be in touch with her real father, on her mother’s terms and in a controlled manner. After five years, both parents realized that they better stop the fighting and reach an understanding, since in this war everyone had already lost.
The moral of the story –
1. In chapter 2 of your life, you should examine very carefully what your partner’s divorce process looked like in Chapter 1 and remember that some patterns repeat themselves.
2. For both men and women – do not play with the Gett. It’s not fair to hold someone else’s freedom in your hands and when you’re unfair, Karma will wait for you on the sidelines.
3. For the one who is withholding Gett — claiming he’s living in peace with his wife even though he knows his wife is living with her boyfriend (and for his lawyer who is encouraging him to do so) – it could happen to you too.