Marriage and divorce in Italy: what you need to know about the Italian divorce law
Marriages between Italian citizens and foreigners frequently occur – as with separations and divorces that involve cross-border issues related to property and children. Marriage and children can be complex to manage, when partners have diverse citizenship. If you’re marrying an Italian partner, you will want to consider the consequences of marriage and divorce in Italy: although separation should be the last thing that comes into mind when marrying someone, agreeing on where to divorce is a wise choice, that can prevent unpleasant family and financial matters.
According to international law governing matrimonial law, mixed couples can choose the divorce law which will apply, selecting among:
- the laws of any state of which one of the spouses is a citizen ;
- the laws of any state in which one of the spouses has his or her “habitual residence” at the time of selection;
- the law of the first state in which one of the spouses establishes a new habitual residence after the marriage.
If no such selection is made, the laws of the first state in which the couple had their habitual residence after marriage govern the property; if the selected state does not have a divorce law or does not guarantee equal access to the procedure, the law of the country in which the application is made will apply.
If you’re marrying an Italian, you might consider the option of choosing the Italian divorce law in case of separation.
Divorce in Italy is now “fast-tracked”
In May 2015 Italy introduced the so-called “fast-track divorce law”, which slashed the time it takes to get a divorce from three years to six months in uncontested cases, one year in contested cases.
The process still retains the preliminary separation phase, but:
- in the case of consensual separation, the couple may file for divorce after a 6-month period of legal separation (starting once the couple has filed an application for separation in court)
- in the case of judicial separation, that is when only one partner is requesting a divorce, or when the couple contests issues such as child custody, division of assets (including property) or maintenance arrangements, the legal separation period is extended to 12 months. Following this period, each party will be entitled to file for divorce.
Another important aspect to consider in the choice of divorce law is the Italian matrimonial regime.
Comunione dei beni (shared ownership) is the default matrimonial regime in Italy, but couples are free to choose a different arrangement when getting married or at any time during a marriage. The alternative to shared ownership is separate ownership (separazione dei beni).
In the event of a divorce, property and assets in the shared ownership regime will be normally split 50/50. There are exceptions, though, that need to be taken into account with your lawyer.
Let us know if we can help.
Handling an international divorce is difficult and stressful, for both the emotional and legal aspects. Each case is unique: an experienced lawyer will be familiar with international cases and will be able to assist you with the necessary care and consideration.
Our firm has handled a wide range of international divorce matters; if you have married an Italian citizen and you require advice regarding a divorce in Italy, contact us for a free consultation.
Notice: this article is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation and does not represent formal legal advice. Studio Legale Palmigiano accepts no liability or responsibility for any statement made.