10 August, 2017

In Italy, what happens if alimony is not paid – Separation and divorce with an Italian qualified lawyer, specialized in Italian family law

The advice by an Italian qualified lawyer is necessary in case the obliged spouse, for example the husband, does not pay due alimony, due to separation or divorce sentence and its respective agreement. In Italy, in fact, if the obliged spouse does not pay the due amount(s), he/she risks of being charged by the beneficiary spouse, for example by the wife. The Italian law firm, therefore, can advise its client not to be surprised about it.

Who, for example, could request or pay a lump-sum alimony, getting a separation or a divorce pursuant to the Italian law:

  • An Italian citizen and a foreign citizen, both residing not in Italy but abroad;
  • Two Italian citizens, both residing not in Italy but abroad;
  • Two foreign citizens, residing not in Italy but abroad and who got married in Italy or had lived in Italy or had decided to apply the Italian law;
  • An Italian citizen and a foreign citizen, both residing in Italy;
  • Two Italian citizens, both residing in Italy;
  • Two foreign citizens, both residing in Italy.

Job termination, unexpected expenses, and health problems. The reasons, which may cause the lack of payment of alimony (assegno divorzile), could be many different ones and differently grounded.

It may happen, for example, that the obliged ex-spouse may have some problems concerning his job (e.g. because his clients are not paying him or because he lost his job) and therefore he may shortly face severe economic difficulties. The payment of the rent, of the car by instalments and of alimony (assegno) could heavily weigh on his income. Unable to deal with all the expenses, he decides autonomously to suspend for some months the payment of alimony. It is a drastic decision, which could cause serious problems.

Generally speaking, in Italy – pursuant to Italian law – the lack of payment (in whole or in part) of alimony and/or child support is a behaviour which could be charged with a felony in case this behaviour has caused the lack of support livelihood to the ex-spouse and/or to the children. The provided penalty is up to one year of jail sentence or a financial penalty from 103 to 1,032 Euro.


When the lack of payment of alimony / child support in Italy is not charged with a felony


About this specific matter, recently also the Supreme Court of Cassation has expressed its opinion, admitting the existence of some exceptions. If namely the ex-spouse obliged to pay is really and actually in economic difficulties and the lack of payment does not leave the beneficiaries (wife or children) without a complete sustenance, generally speaking this behaviour could also not be charged with a felony. But for not being charged with a felony, it is fundamental that the lack of payment does not leave the ex-spouse and/or the children without a complete sustenance.

Each situation shall be analysed on a case-by-case basis: it shall be taken into consideration, for instance, if the payments are lacking only for a limited period (e.g. the amounts are paid with lateness or are paid firstly in part and then in a whole). Furthermore, it shall be taken into consideration not only the economic situation of the ex-spouse obliged to pay alimony and/or child support, but also the economic situation of the family as a whole. If the ex-spouse and the children beneficiary of the payments, for instance, have enough support livelihood thanks to other incomes (e.g. salaries, capital gains, and so on), there would not be all the necessary assumptions for charging the obliged ex-spouse with the criminal charge of lack of payment; of course, the beneficiary spouse could in any case proceed by means of a civil proceeding for breach of agreement to request the payment of alimony.

In a nutshell, it is not taken for granted, therefore, that the obliged ex-spouse who has not paid alimony and/or child support shall automatically face criminal charges. The Italian law provides that some particular circumstances may happen independently to ex-spouse’s will, and these circumstances could be so heavy to make him unable to achieve all the expenses. When the separation or divorce sentence or its agreement has set forth the obligation to pay alimony / child support and subsequently a sudden and drastic change of the economic situation of the obliged ex-spouse happens, it would be better to request timely to the Court of law the upgrading of the amount of the alimony / child support.  It would be appropriate to get started as soon as possible in order to request an amendment of the same amount above indicated. This should be the right strategy to comply with and to carry out as quickly as possible. It is however worth noting that, in some cases, not every unpaid amount shall automatically be due and finally paid.

Marzorati Law Firm is specialised in family law, also internationally, and its lawyers usually deal with separations, divorces, child support and family support. To advise all its clients all over Italy and worldwide, Marzorati Law Firm has also developed a network, made also of at least a barrister/solicitor, an attorney-at-law, an abogado, and an avocat à la cour, all qualified in their respective country of practice.

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