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Family & Divorce
Alan Moher pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour on 28 February 2022, in a landmark private prosecution brought by his ex-wife, Caroline Moher, in part concerning his refusal to grant her a ‘Get’ (the document effecting a Jewish couple’s religious divorce).
1 minute read
4 April 2022
This denied Ms Moher the freedom to remarry under Jewish law. Although the couple civilly divorced in 2019, a Get can only be granted voluntarily, with a husband’s free will, leaving many women chained to marriages which are over in all but name.
Moreover, in the pursuit of a Get, many women find themselves prisoner to their husband’s demands, effectively blackmailed into agreeing to a worse settlement in the civil courts regarding finances or contact with the children. Indeed, Mr Moher exerted such leverage, offering his wife an extra £80,000 in their civil divorce if he did not have to give her a Get.
There are a few options open to the English courts to persuade recalcitrant husbands to grant their wives a Get; for example, refusing to finalise the civil divorce, or ordering that the husband make periodical ‘maintenance’ payments to his wife until he grants the Get (this was ordered in the Moher case and is something Mr Moher unsuccessfully appealed). Some Batei Din also impose sanctions on these men, but ultimately a Get granted under coercion is invalid under Orthodox law.
Mr Moher was abusive to Ms Moher in other ways. He has previously received a public order conviction, when he “shouted abuse” at Ms Moher after a family court hearing and said she was “going to get what was coming to her”. He has physically assaulted and threatened to kill her.
On 1 April 2022, the property tycoon was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his controlling and coercive behaviour under The Serious Crime Act 2015. Judge Martin Beddoe said, “You sought to manipulate and control her all in the knowledge that it would substantially impact her mental health and in some respects also impact her physical health.”
Ms Moher’s victim impact statement read, “Imagine being put into a straitjacket, gagged, your hands and feet are tied… You are dependent on your captor to set you free. That’s how I feel still being married to Alan.”
After the sentencing, Ms Moher addressed the press, saying, “To those victims out there – you are not alone, and justice and humanity are on your side… I urge you not to stay silent, but to fight for your freedom.” However, even imprisonment cannot compel Mr Moher to grant his ex-wife a get, and Ms Moher remains shackled to her abuser.
With the new “no-fault” divorce laws coming into force in the English civil courts this week, in part so that someone whose spouse refuses to accept a divorce will no longer have to wait five years for one to be granted, many may feel that it is immoral that a woman can be indefinitely chained to her ex-husband and kept forever hanging at his whim.
At Collyer Bristow, we have experience in dealing with Jewish divorces. Please contact our Family & Divorce team if you would like any guidance.
4 April 2022
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