My husband has been in a mental hospital for years now, with no hope of recovery. He will be there until he dies. We are both Jewish. Can I get a divorce, or marry someone else ?By: דיאנה שאלתיאל•Published on: 02 May, 2022
No. Under Jewish law a woman is in an inferior position to a man who is placed in a similar situation, with his spouse incarcerated in a mental hospital. A Jewish wife cannot divorce her mentally ill spouse, nor can she get permission to marry someone else. Under Jewish law, divorce is a legal act requiring understanding, freewill and agreement, which a spouse who is incurably ill with a mental illness is incapable of. Thus, divorce is out, and also for a man, whose wife is similarly afflicted. There is, however, a major difference; a man whose wife is afflicted, can can apply to the rabbinical court for permission to marry another woman.
The only option for a woman in the predicament mentioned is to live with another man, as common-law husband and wife, and have a court-authorised agreement defining their rights and obligations towards one another.