Family breakdown in traditional-Orthodox Judaism: X (1, 2 & 3)

Three judgments have been published recently about a series of custody proceedings between a separated couple from the ultra-Orthodox Satmar sect: X (Number 1: Religious Differences: Schools) [2014] EWFC B230X (Number 2: Orthodox Schools) [2015] EWFC B237; and X (Number 3: Division of Religious Festivals) [2016] EWFC B91. Though they do not establish any new legal principle, they are a stark illustration of the difficulties inherent in the work of the Family Courts.

The background

The situation was set out very briefly by HHJ Rowe in X (Number 1). In 2014, The boy, A, was nearly five and the girl, B, was two. Their parents were separated but not divorced.

Possibly the crux of the matter was that, having left the Satmar community, the father had had to contend with the disapproval not only from the mother and her family but also from his own wider family: “Currently he is struggling to rebuild his relationship with his father who lives in Israel. The community now struggles to see the father as Jewish” [No 1: 14]. Continue reading