For the first time a man has been convicted in an English court of controlling behaviour for denying his wife a get.
Alan Moher, 57, from Manchester, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Monday in a private prosecution brought by his former wife Caroline, from whom he was civilly divorced in 2019.
Without a get, Mrs Moher will remain unable to remarry in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony.
Her solicitor, Gary Lesin-Davis, said, “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.”
Mr Moher, who owns a property company, admitted controlling or coercive behaviour over a period of five years from January 2016.
According to the indictment, he 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; and prevented her from obtaining a Jewish religious divorce.
Judge Martin Beddoe ordered him to return to court for sentencing on April 1, warning that he could face a custodial sentence.
Mrs Moher, who had petitioned for divorce in the Family Court in early 2016, was able to enter the courtroom only after his plea since she would otherwise have been giving evidence if the case had gone to trial.
Three years ago, her ex-husband unsuccessfully appealed a civil order for him to continue making payments to her until he had granted a get.
Under Jewish law, a man must voluntarily give a get - and a woman accept it - although there are circumstances when a rabbinical court will order him to grant the divorce.
Two years ago another woman refused a get became the first to launch a prosecution under the 2015 Act although she withdrew it before it came to trial when her husband agreed to the get.
At least one other prosecution is believed to be in the pipeline.
Draft guidance attached to the Domestic Act passed last year proposes to recognise get refusal as a form of “spiritual abuse”.