Divorce Proceedings in Italy

For over a decade our family law department has been providing assistance to individuals in connection with divorce and family law issues in Italy. 

Our Italian family law team, which is led by Avv. Alessandro Gravante and Avv. Nicoletta Neglia, comprises of a team of Italian family lawyers who specialise in exclusively advising foreign clients on divorce, ancillary relief, judicial separation and child proceedings and other family law related matters throughout Italy. Our Italian lawyers provide a wide range of services which in addition to those already mentioned also include special guardianship orders, financial disputes, civil partnerships, cohabitation issues and associated property disputes. 

Our lawyers have considerable expertise in protecting clients with complex financial issues, including matters relating to diverse sources of income. The firm is also able to assist in all aspects of family and children law, including custodial parental rights and the creation of an alternative family structure. As well as advising on complex international children law involving more than one jurisdiction.

We welcome clients of different nationalities and our multi-lingual lawyers can assist clients involved in complex cross-border divorce cases. 

Giambrone was one of the first law firms whose family law teams specialised in “Collaborative Divorce Proceedings”, introduced by the new Legislative Decree 2014/1323

This new Decree introduced “Assisted Negotiation” as a compulsory step for separation and divorce proceedings in Italy; the new procedure is similar, in broad terms, to divorce through mediation rather than via the judicial proceedings courts, although lawyers are required to represent each party. Any agreement reached through “Assisted Negotiation” needs approval by the court but does not require a hearing. 

Giambrone can provide legal advice in:

  • Divorce and separation;
  • Italian child abduction;
  • Forced marriage cases;
  • Custodial parent rights;

Our aim is to offer is to provide solutions that attempt to limit the distress that accompanies a marriage break-up.

Giambrone’s family law team includes members of the International Bar Association as well as many international family law organisations and has well-established connections with other international law firms worldwide.

Judicial separation in Italy

The Italian legal separation of the spouses is regulated by the Italian Civil Code, the procedural code and related statutes.

When a couple decide to separate, they have to appear before the President of the Local Court (“Udienza Presidenziale”) who offers them the choice of reconciliation or a formal separation (separazione formale) for one year. Financial matters should also be dealt with at this time.

There are two types of legal separation in Italy. The first is consensual separation, which stems from a mutual agreement between husband and wife, and which is then approved by the court. The second is judicial separation, in which hearings and discussions are normally involved before an agreement is reached and the judge determines which spouse is responsible for the failure of the marriage.

The legal separation in Italy is a temporary measure as it does not terminate the marriage; the main consequences are that the joint ownership of assets between the parties is divided, the duty of cohabitation under the matrimonial home is interrupted and the duty of marital fidelity is no longer applicable.

Separation in Italy is a no-fault system but being able to successfully establish responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage is an important factor to establish the right to ancillary relief and maintenance

Within the judicial separation proceedings, the parties come to a temporary determination of their personal and financial circumstances and interim orders are made in respect any ancillary relief and patrimonial issues; the attribution of the family home; the maintenance (usually in favour of the wife) and the custody and visitation of the children

Divorce in Italy

In an absolute majority of cases, divorce in Italy follows a one-year separation period, or only six months for consensual divorce, following the "fast track" divorce reform of April 2015.

Since April 2015, Italy introduced a "fast track" divorce reform which reduced the time it takes to obtain a divorce from three years to six months in the case of an uncontested divorce and one year in the case of a contested divorce. 

The proceedings for divorce are expressly regulated by the Italian civil code, the civil procedural code, and by Statutes no. 898/1970 and no. 74/1987. Under Italian law, a divorce is the legal dissolution of the marriage, which puts an end to the spouses’ legal duties and responsibilities deriving from the marriage

Anyone may apply for divorce in Italy if the marriage took place there or if one of the parties is Italian or a resident in Italy. For two non-Italians or when only one partner is Italian, foreign law may take precedence over Italian law.

The mother is usually given custody of the children, with access for the father on terms to be agreed between the parties, and once any children of the marriage reach the age of ten they can decide which parent they want to live with.

As in the case of separation, the divorce proceedings can occur by mutual agreement or on a contested basis. In the former case, both the spouses agree on the terms of the divorce before filing a joint application for divorce with the court. They can be represented by the same lawyer if no conflict arises.

Should the divorce be contested, each spouse can be the “applicant” to file the petition for divorce and the grounds for divorce are indicated in art.3 of the Divorce Statute law 898/1970

No minimum standards for the division of matrimonial assets are set by the law in the case of uncontested divorces, provided there are no children, as the court will not usually intercede once the couple decided on the terms and arrangements relating to their divorce. However, a court may overrule a Consent Order when it would be contrary to the interests of any children of the marriage.

In general, consensual divorce proceeds fairly quickly; judicial procedures, on the other hand, are more time‑consuming and depend upon the individual circumstances. After the decree absolute is issued by the court, the parties are free to marry and the wife loses her former husband’s surname if she adopted it during her marriage.

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