12 August, 2017

How the standard of living influence alimony in Italy – Legal advice of an Italian qualified lawyer specialized in family law

For husband and wife who are divorced or who are filing for divorce, it may be useful to know that in Italy the criteria, analysed by the Judge to determine alimony (assegno di mantenimento) in favour of the economically weaker spouse, have recently been changed. In particular, the Italian Court of Cassation has ruled that, concerning the standard of living, it does not influence anymore the amount of alimony provided for the economically weaker spouse. The legal advice of an Italian qualified lawyer specialized in family law may simplify the couple who is filing for divorce, because he/she can evaluate the economic situation of the parties in order to pinpoint the most appropriate strategy to carry on in compliance with the interpretation of the Italian law.

Who, for example, could have the right to request alimony, getting 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.

Alimony may be issued in favour of the spouse who, as a direct consequence of the divorce, remains in an economic unfavourable situation. Having helpful nature, it has always been deemed as aimed to restore an economic balance between the parties, assuring to the economically weaker spouse the necessary livelihood to have the same standard of living (tenore di vita) that she/he had during the marriage evaluating the patrimonial conditions of the spouses.


Let’s suppose, for example, that during the marriage husband and wife had always carried out a quite modest life. Notwithstanding an important job in a company and a high salary for the husband and a part-time job for the wife, the family has chosen to carry out a simple and measured style of life. A small car, just few dinners at restaurant and only connected with important events, low-cost holidays. At the moment of the divorce the husband, who at the time already moved abroad, could offer alimony more in line with the former standard of living. However, the wife could believe that she has the right to pursue a more brilliant and less sacrificed life.


The value of possible standard of living in Italy


During the evaluation of their economic situations, therefore, the Judge would have analysed the adequacy of the livelihood of the spouse who requests alimony according to the real economic capacity of the spouses.

Today in an Italian Court of law a different option would be taken into consideration, analysing the incomes of the spouses and the consistency of their personal assets, as well as the actual possibility of each spouse to make ends meet on the basis of the labour activity or on the basis of the possible existence of owned assets.

It means that the wife could rely on an amount of alimony, which is parametrized to her real economic needs only in case she might not be able to make ends meet by herself due to objective reasons. The parameter of the former modest and simple standard of living, occurred during the marriage, therefore, could be useful to prove that these are the real needs of the woman.

This “twist” occurred in the interpretation of the Italian law by the Italian Judges, even though Italy is not a country governed by a common law system and no compulsory commitment concerning the previous issued sentence is in full force and effect, may lead to the updating of many alimonies on the basis of parameters which may by now be considered as excessive. The sentence rules out, instead, the application of these criteria during the separation legal proceeding.

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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