Q: My husband and I had a civil wedding in NY in 2002. We then married religiously in Israel in 2005. We lived together in America, and had 2 children. In 2011 he decided to move back to Israel. I remained in NYS with my two children for 6 years. In 2017 we decided I would move to Israel with our children. Our marriage began to fall apart, and I became unbearably homesick. My children and I want to return to America. My husband said we could as long as I give him a rabbinical divorce. The agreement is completely unfair towards me, but unless I sign it he will not let me leave the country with our children. He is divorcing me in Israel according to the 2005 marriage date. If I sign the agreement, can I civilly divorce him in NYS for our 2002 marriage? Will the civil divorce override the Israeli rabbinical divorce? I am desperate to get myself and my children home.
A: You can, but generally the NY courts will recognize divorces (& settlement agreements) done in other countries. I’d advise you to put in writing to him your concerns that you feel pressured to sign the agreement because he’s threatened to not allow you to leave the country unless you do so (unless his threats were in writing). Schedule a consult with a Bronx Divorce attorney for a full assessment.