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Italian Couples Travel to End their Marriages

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If you are old enough, you may remember the 1961 film, “Divorce, Italian Style” with the legendary Marcello Mastroianni, well…. times have changed. Today Italian couples head to another European Union state to divorce.


In Italy, a couple wishing to divorce must first go through a three-year separation period. Because the legal process takes some time as well, a divorce in Italy usually takes about four years. But, it could take more depending on whether or not the split is consensual.


To avoid all of this, Italian couples wishing to divorce can fly to other European Union (EU) member states and obtain a divorce there. To do this, they must first apply for residency in their destination state and then file for divorce. Gian Ettore Gassani, president of the Italian Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers describes this trend as “a defeat of the Italian justice system.” In effect, these couples are sidestepping the Italian law by taking advantage of the more lax divorce laws in other EU member states. Although the Italian government does not grant divorces quickly, it will recognize a divorce granted by any member state of the EU.


There are even agencies that offer divorce packages, including airfare. Romania, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom are common divorce destinations, but Romania has the reputation of being the most affordable and the easiest. One group in particular, the Italian League for Quick Divorce, has been lobbying for the Italian Parliament to get rid of the trial separation period for those wishing to divorce, which was already reduced from five years to three. On the other hand stands the Vatican, a significant influence on Italy, which does not recognize divorce.


It will be interesting to see if this divorcing tourists phenomenon will have some effect on legislation regarding divorce in Italy. To read more about this phenomenon, check out this article from the New York TimesThere is always YouTube for a clip of that classic film.