Following civil divorce proceedings which began in 2016, Alan Moher refused to give his wife a Jewish religious divorce ("Get"). This Get document formally ends the marriage in orthodox Jewish law, and until it is granted the wife is 'chained' to the Jewish marriage. She is unable to remarry, have more children or enter into a relationship with another man.
The Family Court did its best to ensure that Mr Moher gave the Get. Within the financial proceedings Mr Moher was ordered to continue to pay her £1,850 per month until he granted the 'Get'. Mr Moher unsuccessfully appealed this order, stating that under Jewish law, a man must give the Get of his own free will, and this financial incentive impeded that.
Ms Moher then brought a private prosecution under the Serious Crime Act 2015 for controlling or coercive behaviour, stating that Mr Moher: 'used or threatened her with violence causing her to fear for her own personal safety on two or more occasions; exercised unreasonable financial control, including by obstructing any financial settlements ordered by the Family Court; agreed to a civil divorce but prevented her from obtaining a Get (Jewish religious divorce) enabling her to remarry in accordance with Jewish law and practice'.
Mr Moher this week changed his not guilty plea to guilty and will be sentenced on 1 April 2022. He has, to date, still not granted his wife the Get.
The option of private prosecution is an additional sanction that Jewish wives chained to dead marriages can now use to try and regain their freedom and redress the power imbalance.
“Prosecution can provide a powerful remedy to protect vulnerable women whose treatment by recalcitrant husbands strays into criminal offending. “Get refusal involves a serious restriction on the liberty of the victim and is behaviour designed to control and undermine a victim, keeping her in an intimate relationship against her will and preventing her from remarrying.” Naomi Dickson, chief executive of Jewish Women’s Aid, said: “This is a really important precedent and sends a clear message to all would-be Get refusers that coercive and controlling behaviour can be successfully prosecuted in an English court. We are following the case closely and hold Caroline in our thoughts while she awaits her Get.”