Divorce Proceedings in Italy
You can apply to get a separation or a divorce in Italy if:
- if both spouses are Italian citizens, independent of where they live
- both spouses live in Italy at the time of the marriage breakdown or
- if the other spouse who intends to file for divorce lives in Italy or
- if the spouse making the application to the Italian court has lived in Italy for at least one year (or six months if your are an Italian citizen).
For two non-Italian citizens or when only one partner is Italian, foreign law may take precedence over Italian law.
In Italy a divorce generally follows a one-year separation period. In cases of consensual divorce, only a six month separation period is generally required.
Divorce proceedings can occur by mutual agreement where both the spouses agree on the terms of the divorce before filing a joint application for divorce with the court. You can both be represented by the same lawyer if no conflict of interest arises. If it is contested by one of the parties, it would be inappropriate for both to be represented by the same lawyer. The process will also likely be longer and incur more legal costs on both parties if they are represented by lawyers.
The good news is that Italy has a no fault divorce regime and you do not need to prove that the other spouse has particular faults.
You do not need to prove that the other person behaved unreasonably nor that they violated the duties arising from the marriage in order to obtain a divorce once the legal separation period has expired.
You can apply for divorce six months after a consensual separation or one year after you begin judicial separation proceedings as long as separation is pronounced in the judgement.
Separation of assets will depend on the regime of property chosen at the time of marriage. If the couple has not chosen the separation of property regime then “community property regime” is applicable and all purchases made during the marriage by each will automatically be divided 50/50 between the spouses.
Any property owned separately prior to marriage and the property acquired subsequently by donation or inheritance will remain personal and should not be divided equally.
Throughout the period of separation, the economically disadvantaged/weaker party may apply to receive a monthly maintenance allowance. The purpose of this maintenance payment is to balance the economic situation of the spouses. This can be extended until after the divorce as well.
Pre-marital or prenuptial agreements are valid under Italian law whereas in the UK they are not legally binding and are merely persuasive.
It is therefore important to consider carefully the financial implications of the jurisdiction you choose to apply for divorce in.