Appellate Division Enforces Beis Din Provision in Marital Settlement Agreement

Ava Satz v. Allen Satz

Docket No. A-3535-21

Decided August 18, 2023

Submitted by New Jersey Divorce Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent published decision the Appellate Division of New Jersey affirmed a trial court’s order enforcing a provision of the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) requiring the parties to following beis din proceedings to obtain a “get” – a divorce recognized under Jewish religious law.

In Satz v. Satz, plaintiff and defendant married in February 2006. They have four children together, born between February 2007 and May 2015. After twelve years of marriage, plaintiff and defendant separated in 2018. Plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce in June 2018.

With the consent of both parties, the trial court took testimony from defendant before the final MSA was drafted to confirm his agreement with respect to the beis din provision. Defendant testified that he would respond to any summons received from the beis din and would be bound by any decision the rabbinical court made regarding the get, which was to be decided by that body in accordance with Jewish law. Defendant further testified that he understood he would be subject to sanctions imposed by the Family Part in the event that he did not cooperate with the beis din in accordance with his agreement, which would be memorialized in writing and entered in the Family Part.

Following the divorce, plaintiff moved to enforce the provision of the MSA requiring defendant to participate in beis din proceedings.  Defendant moved for a stay of the beis din proceedings. The Court found no basis to challenge the MSA or for stay of the beis din proceedings and ordered defendant to pay plaintiff’s counsel fees as the motion for stay was made in bad faith.

Defendant appealed and the Appellate Division also found no basis to disturb the Court’s order, and it was not a violation of defendant’s constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion or violation of the Establishment Clause.

Marital Settlement Agreements (MSA) or Property Settlement Agreements (PSA) are detailed document dictating the terms of a divorce.  These agreements are usually a product of extensive negotiations and contain a variety of legal terms made with the purpose of resolving all issues of the divorce, both present and future.  In order for an MSA or PSA to become valid, the Court requires testimony or a sworn statement to each party’s understanding of the document and that each party enters into it voluntarily without coercion.

Once this process is complete, it is difficult to modify or forego provisions. As seen above, defendant was not abiding by the terms and requested a stay of enforcement of the provision for beis din proceedings. The Court found defendant acted in bad faith by opposing this and required defendant to pay plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees as a result – something well within the power of a family law judge to order.

If you have questions about MSAs or PSA, enforcement, changes in circumstance requiring a modification, parenting time, alimony, child support, divorce and custody, or appeals, contact the experienced matrimonial divorce attorneys at Hark & Hark today.

In recognition of these trying financial times, we are reducing fees and working with clients to come up with manageable payment plans. Initial consultation is always free and we are available remotely.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing domestic violence charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties. We represent clients in all towns in New Jersey, including Barnegat Township, Barnegat Light Borough, Bay Head Borough, Beach Haven Borough, Beachwood Borough, Berkeley Township, Brick Township, Eagleswood Township, Harvey Cedars Borough, Island Heights Borough, Jackson Township, Lacey Township, Lakehurst Borough, Lakewood Township, Lavallette Borough, Little Egg Harbor Township, Long Beach Township, Manchester Township, Mantoloking Borough, Ocean Gate Borough, Ocean Township, Pine Beach Borough, Plumsted Township, Point Pleasant Beach Borough, Point Pleasant Borough, Seaside Heights Borough, Seaside Park Borough, Ship Bottom Borough, South Toms River Borough, Surf City Borough, Stafford Township, Toms River Township, and Tuckerton Borough.


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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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